Part street food fare, part homemade staple, chole masala always brings back memories of my fauji-brat childhood. As street food, this was married to the large, fluffy and mildly sour bhaturas. At home, it frequently cavorted with chapathis, rice, puris and even sliced white bread.
Ah, the flamboyant life lived by this lentil…
I light up with each morsel of this dish and I hope you do too. Here’s my version, one that is rather traditional, but that’s sure to stir up some warmth inside.
1 pressure cooker
1 chopping board
1 large strainer
1 serving bowl
1 fork / masher
2 cups kabuli chana
2 cups tap water (to soak the chana)
3 cups drinking water (to cook the chana)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp chana masala (I used MDH’s chana masala)
1 stick cinnamon
2 – 3 cloves
4 tbsp oil
2 sprigs coriander leaves (and stalks too, chopped)
salt to taste
lime juice (a good squeeze for freshness, but this is entirely optional)
1. Soak the chana overnight, or for about 6 hours.
2. Strain the chana and discard the tap water. Add the drinking water in your pressure cooker and add your chana to this. Cook on high heat for 5 – 6 whistles. When ready, gently mash the dal with the masher.
3. While your chana cooks, heat a kadhai with the oil on medium heat. Add the cloves, cinnamon and bayleaves and lower the heat when the cloves stop popping.
4. Add the onions and fry until translucent and golden brown.
5. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and chole masala to the onions and fry until the raw smell of the powdered ingredients goes away.
6. Add the tomatoes and cook on high heat till the pulp of the tomatoes mixes well with the onion mixture. Fry until the tomatoes and onions form a thick paste.
7. Add the boiled chana in along with the water and cook on high heat until the curry starts to thicken.
8. Season with salt and add half of the chopped coriander. Cook on low heat until the curry water coats the back of the spoon.
9. Turn the heat off and add the juice of the lime. Garnish with the rest of the coriander after transferring your curry to your serving bowl. Dig in!
Add salt to the chana when cooking it in the pressure cooker.
If your curry isn’t punchy enough with flavour, add more of the chana masala in 1/2 tsp additions.
The powdered spices are added before the tomatoes so that they are fried and cooked completely before the water content from the tomatoes attack them. This gives the curry a more rounded flavour and reduces the “raw” taste of the spices.