Chikar Cholay – a quintessential Punjabi Streetfood:
Chikar Cholay is a popular street food in Lahore. It sounds almost unbelievable that we Lahoris can enjoy any other food which is not meat but in this case it’s true! Chickpeas and potato based dishes are cherished all over Punjab; such as Murgh Cholay,Β  Cholay Pathoray, Potato filled samosas with Chickpeas chutney and Aloo Channa Chaat (potato and chickpeas snack) are few of the most popular.

Chikar Cholay -the name says it all!

Chikar Cholay is a thick curry that gets it’s name because of the mud like consistency it gets due to roughly mashed up chickpeas. It’s often mixed up with other slightly similar looking curries but this one has a distinct taste from cinnamon, black cardamoms and fennel. There is a hint of sour in the background from crushed anaardana ( dried pomegranate seeds) but if you can’t find them, simply add some lemon juice.

Enjoy Chikar Cholay the way locals do!

This particular curry is always served with naan or khamiri roti ( leavened bread). And the traditional garnishings are daikon and onions and these garnishing are an integral part of the dish so try not to skip them or you won’tbe able to enjoy the true flavours that come from the gooey spicy chickpeas combined with the crunch of vegetables . If you want a gluten free version of this dish, add gram flour instead of wheat flour to thicken the curry. Or you can add two tablespoons of red lentils while the curry is cooking to make it thick. It’s a richly spiced, filling and delicious meal.


*Boiling chickpeas in bulk and then freezing them in smaller serving sized containers will make your life very easy in the kitchen.

*If using precooked or canned chickpeas for this recipe, skip the first step in the directions. Directly cook with just one cup of water and all the spices mentioned in the 2nd step. Omit baking soda.

For Chikar Cholay:
2 cups chickpeas
1 stick cinnamon
3 black cardamoms
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
salt to taste
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice or 2 tablespoons ground anardana/dry pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons wheat flour or gram flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For Tempering:

2 cups wate2-3 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
1 small onion, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

For Garnishing:

Thinly sliced Daikon/mooli
Onion rings
Green chilli peppers

This Is What You Do:
Soak chickpeas overnight.

Add chickpeas along with 8-9 cups water. Add cinnamon stick, black cardamoms, coriander powder, red chillies, black pepper, soda and salt.

Add ginger garlic paste and cook covered on medium low heat till the chickpeas are really tender. Add more water if required.

When the chickpeas are really tender, smash them up a bit with your stirring spoon.
Add lemon juice or ground dry pomegranate seeds.

Dilute flour in 1/2 cup water to make a smooth paste. Add to the the chickpeas to thicken up the curry. Add fennel seeds and cook another 10 minutes on low heat.

Fry onions in oil or ghee for tempering. When onions begin to turn golden add cumin seeds and red chilli flakes. Turn off the heat when cumin seeds begin to splatter.

Pour the tarka or tempered oil over the curry before serving.

Garnish with daikon, onions and green chillies. Serve hot with naan.

Serves 4

52 Replies to “Lahori Chikar Cholay, street food”

  1. These are too tempting Maria… Since long I wanted to try an authentic Chikar chole with your recipe I will soon give it a try..

  2. Looks yummy, although I haven’t tried. Can you tell me some recipe for multani cholay? I have tried many recipes on internet including making multani masala with all ingredients but they don’t taste anything closer to the original thing.

  3. I am a self confessed fan of Pakistani food… I can go into a restaurant and gorge on their food till my tummy aches and I can’t breathe… the chikar chole looks so flavorful. The color is so amazing that I may just take a spoon and finish off that whole platter…

  4. Bookmarking your chole recipe . I have never tried boiling all the spices along with chole , after reading your recipe , I can guess that chole would have tasted awesome . Will try your chole soon .

    1. Thank you, Swati! Boiling chickpeas with spices really makes them very flavourful. Hope you will enjoy!

    1. Thank you, Uma! Though this one you will find very different from the usual cholay curry which is served with puri.

  5. Maria I am learning so many new dishes from you. This is so flavorful n yummy. Will come back n read at leisure when I am making this, read when elder daughter is down.

    1. No worries, dear Archana! We food bloggers know how difficult it is at times to juggle real and online life together. My elder one is about to leave the nest for higher studies, I’m trying to spend maximum time with her these days.
      Thank you so much, for still taking time to stop by 😘

  6. This is fabulous stuff Maria. I am learning so much about your cuisine from the blog and though we have similarities, its the minute differences that make the dish taste totally different to our taste buds. Chickpeas are such a healthy ingredient and I can imagine the scooping of the curry with some naan would be just perfect! Spicy, tangy and delicious to sum it up.

    1. Thank you, dear Vidya, for summing it up so nicely! I couldn’t agree more – there are so many similarities in our cuisines and then there are all the unique regional tweaks, ingredients and cooking methods that create such colourful individual identities. 😊
      I always enjoy reading your comments!

  7. Chikar cholay looks so delicious. I do make the North Indian style one. Do need to try this version. Thanks Maria

    1. Thank you, Jaya! You will find this recipe quite different from usual Punjabi style cholay due to the prominent cinnamon and anaar dana flavours.

  8. One of my friend from Karachi used to bring chana aloo and we would love it. This Lahori version sounds more tempting.

    1. How wonderful to know you have tried Karachi style aloo chana, Sapna! This Lahori version has a deeper, stronger flavour that I’m sure you will enjoy.

  9. Can’t take my eyes off from these beautifully made delicious curry.. Feel like having now with some hot Rotis.

    1. Thank you, Nayna! Here it’s served with plain naan or khameeri roti (yeast leavened flatbread) but really it would go great with any flatbread, especially puris 😊

  10. Wow,Lahori chikar cholay makes me drool, i always love dishes cooked with cholay and this street foods tempts me a lot. Cant wait to prepare some soon.

  11. I am learning so much about Pakistani food from you, Maria. The Cholay look absolutely smashing and would be just the kind of snack I would opt for.

    1. That’s very sweet of you to say, Aruna. Similarly I’m learning a lot about Indian cuisine from you and enjoying it. 😊

  12. Choley looks so delicious and tempting. Love that idea of using gram flour into choley to thicken the curry..Thanks for sharing this beautiful tip !!

    1. I’m glad you like my little trick, Jolly! I use gram flour to thicken up many curries. 😊 It doesn’t have a starchy after taste like plain flour and corn flour.

  13. I love chickpeas and am always looking for new recipes to use them. Chikar cholay sounds absolutely delicious – spicy, tangy and fragrant. Will have to try your recipe some time soon.

    1. Great! I really like cooking with the very versatile chickpeas too. 😊 If you try, let me know how it turned out for you.

  14. Lovely recipe of chikkar Choley this is what I have had long back in Delhi and was looking for a good recipe for it, thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh how interesting, Soma! I guess, food in Lahore and Delhi have some similarities, being in such close proximity.
      Hope you will enjoy the recipe! 😊

  15. Nice recipe. However i would like to mention one point here. I have tried few times on the roads of lahore that they serve chikar cholay cold without any ghee. Any comment about it?

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Ijaz! Yes, you are absolutely right. I think serving them cold is not a prerequisite that must be followed to achieve a certain taste. Most vendors bring chikar cholay and naan already cooked from home and then stand for hours on roadside selling them, with no proper heating arrangements on the stalls. Maybe that’s why they are cold.
      While I don’t mind eating chickpeas hot or cold, curries taste best when they are served hot. Don’t you think so?!
      I’m glad you liked the recipe. 😊

  16. I made a similar version to this but i used 2.5 cups of vegetable oil and i used water for a mild spiced dish that was amazing. This one is a lot healthier but a lot stronger. What can i subtract from to tone this down for my family. I love strong and spicy food while the rest of my family does not

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, William! For a mild flavor, you can cut the quantity of spices and red chillies in half or even less to suit your family’s taste. Cinnamon and tang from pomegranate seeds/lemon should still remain the prominent flavours for the typical taste of this dish.
      Hope you will enjoy! 😊

    1. Hello Manju! 😊 Thank you for stopping by dear 😊 Yes, absolutely! The blog is full of recipes to try for Diwali. There is Namak Paray, Jalebi, Zarda, semolina and dates halwa, shahi tukrey, misi roti, tai roti, meetha paratha, tomato paneer masala, Hyderabadi khatti daal, Hyderabadi mirchi ka salan and many other recipes on the blog. Just type any of the name out of these in the search box on home page and you will get to the recipes.
      For complete halwa, pooris and channa recipe, click this link or type poori halwa in search box.
      And I just posted today Diwali special Badam Puri recipe. Hope you will enjoy 😊
      Keep watching this space for more Diwali recipes this whole week.
      A very Happy Diwali to you and your family in advance πŸ˜ŠπŸ’

  17. Hi Maria,
    You are truly the best and beautiful soul. In my blogging journey i found very few who interact so nicely and positively. May god always bless you. Wish u a very hapoy and blessed day ahead.. πŸ™‚

    1. Aww! I’m speechless now, Veg Indian Cooking! πŸ™‚ Bless you too dear. Your comment really made my day πŸ™‚ I believe at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how successful we are, or how many followers we have but what sort of human beings we are πŸ˜‰

  18. Hi again,
    Thank you so much dear, very much appreciate your feedback. Yes as said i will also go with as mentioned in the recipe.

    1. Good to hear from you again, Veg Indian Cooking πŸ™‚ And entirely my pleasure, dear! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you enjoy πŸ™‚

  19. Hi,
    Everything looks great, very healthy, tasty and excellent recipe. But,
    I have one doubt adding 3 black cardamom will give very strong flavors to this recipe. Whether that is required for this recipe !

    1. Veg Indian Cooking, thank you so much for stopping by πŸ™‚ I’m glad you like the recipe. Cinnamon and black cardamom are the dominant flavours in the recipe. The flour, lemon juice and tempering balance out the spices totally that’s why I keep them on the stronger side to begin with. But of course the quantity of any particular ingredient depends on preference. You can reduce the quantity to suit your taste, though I won’t advise any less than two.
      Happy cooking πŸ™‚

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