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