Pindi Chole Recipe, Masala Chickpeas:

The calendar is moving once again towards cold weather. Though it’s only October but the mornings and evenings are already very pleasant, pink and crisp. My taste buds are once again craving hot and spicy food. Luckily, there is no dearth of spicy food in my country’s cuisine, therefore it’s quite easy to concoct a yummy dish from the available ingredients in the kitchen any given day.

It’s nearly end of the month and I am out of most grocery items but a few things I always stock in bulk and the ever versatile chickpeas are one of them. So I decided to cook my easy version of Pindi Chole recipe with some smouldering hot Pathoray(fried flat bread) for lunch to celebrate the long awaited relief from
hot and humid weather.

Pindi Chole, as the name suggests, is a popular street food recipe from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Located in the Pothohar region, near Taxila ,it is one of the oldest cities in the world, inhabited for thousands of years. While the newborn sibling city, Islamabad, is known for its serene scenic beauty and modern lifestyle, Rawalpindi remains embedded in simplicity and abuzz with cultural activity all day long.

Kirtarpura main bazaar used to be the Hindu quarter before partition of the Indian subcontinent, where mostly fairs and festivals were held. It’s food street is still the culinary heart of the city, with all kinds of desi delights available in abundance round the clock – from nihari, payae and grilled fish to crispy pathoray served with spicy Chole.

Pindi Chole remain popular in Pakistan and India despite an invasion of international food chains. The chickpeas simmering with tea leaves and spices smell divine and look so irresistible that I usually start eating while still cooking under the pretext of tasting for seasoning.

The spice list seems pretty long but really all you have to do is tie half of them in a muslin bundle and throw in with the chickpeas, and grind the rest to make a spice mix that goes in later. The hands on prep time is very little and at one time you can make a big batch for the whole family or even extra to freeze.

They are mostly served with Pathoray (a puffed up fried bread) or kulcha( a leavened flatbread) but you can serve them with any flatbread of your choice. To skip extra calories and carbs, I mostly dig in with a spoon with lots of onions and tomatoes heaped on top.

-If you can’t find dry pomegranate seeds where you live, you can use tamarind paste or lemon juice towards the end of cooking to add a touch of sour to the chickpeas.
-Want to pair them with Pathoray? Get my foolproof recipe
here .

1+1/2 cup White Chickpeas/Kabuli Channa
1 stick cinnamon
3-4 cloves
2 black cardamoms
1 teaspoon black pepper corn
2 curry leaves
2 chai teabags 2-3 teaspoons Chai leaves
4-5 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons dry pomegranate seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
A tiny piece nutmeg
1 teaspoon black salt or sea salt
2-3 tablespoons ghee, olive or any cooking oil
1 teaspoon carom seeds
1 inch piece ginger
2 green chilli peppers
1 medium onion
1 tomato
Fresh coriander leaves

This Is What You Do:

Wash and soak chickpeas overnight or for several hours. If you forget (as I usually do), just soak them in hot water for 20 minutes with a pinch of baking soda.

Make a bouquet garni or a little bundle of spices – cinnamon,cloves, black peppercorns , curry leaves and teabags/tea leaves, tied together in a muslin cloth.

Add chickpeas with 5-6 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the spice bundle into a deep pan and cook for one hour. If you are using pressure cooker, it will take only half the time.

Meanwhile prep all the other ingredients.

Dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dry red chilli peppers and pomegranate seeds on a skillet/tawa. Add to a grinder with turmeric, black salt and nutmeg. Grind to a fine powder. Set aside.

Peel and cut ginger into fine julienne. Slit the green chilli peppers. Peel and cut onions into rings. Cut tomato into wedges. Chop fresh coriander leaves.

Add oil to a small frying pan. Add carom seeds, julienned ginger and green chilli peppers. Fry for a minute. Remove from heat.

When the chickpeas are tender and water sufficiently reduced, remove and discard the spice bundle.

Add the dry spice mix and the tempered oil, along with ginger, carom seeds and green chillies to the chickpeas. Cover and cook another 20 minutes or till almost all the liquid is dried out.

Check for seasoning. Add more salt if required.

Garnish with onion rings, tomato wedges and fresh coriander.

Serve hot with Poori, pathoora, roti or any other flatbread OR simply dig in with a spoon.

Serves 6

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