Chholey Masala – Indian Chickpea curry
Chickpeas, also known as Chholey in North India and Garbanzo beans here in the US, is one of my favorite legumes. Indians prepare it in a spicy, tangy curry, using spices such as dried mango, cinnamon and bay leaves. I recall first savoring it at a family dinner, with abnormally large poori’s or fried Indian flatbread.
As you may know, chickpeas are available in 2 varieties – white & green. In India, you’ll commonly find both varieties being used in traditional home cooking. The white variety is made into Chholey puri – chickpea curry with fried Indian flatbread – a famous inclusion in most Indian restaurants and interestingly, also a favorite breakfast dish amongst North-Indians.
The green variety on the other hand, is eaten as a snack in Mumbai, spiked with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies (yes, it’s very very hot) and tons of tangy spices that go excellently with the sweltering heat in the city I love. On a train ride from Mumbai to Kolkata in India, I was once served this very concoction, but with a distinct flavor to it. I later learned that in West India, they prepare green chickpeas in mustard oil. (Travel Tip: for the ultimate green chickpea snack, go to Chowpatty beach in Mumbai, India, and buy a portion from any street vendor)
There’s something about chickpeas that I’ve always found very comforting. They really hold their shape during the cooking process, making them firm on the outside, and mushy when you bite into them. Perfect when had on a cold winter evening, I find it equally enjoyable in the pleasant Minnesotan summer.
You will need:
- 1 cup white chickpeas / garbanzo beans. Wash, cover with about 4 cups of water in a large bowl, and soak overnight
Note: you may also use cooked, canned Garbanzo beans. Follow the recipe as below.
- A pressure cooker (if using raw chickpeas) or large pot (if using cooked canned garbanzo beans)
- 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped OR equivalent amount of canned tomato puree
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 inch stick of cinnamon
- 3-4 dried bay leaves
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger & garlic paste
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp Dhania-Zeera powder or Cumin & Coriander powder spice blend
- 1 tsp Amchur powder (dried powdered mango – available in any Indian grocery store)
- 1 tsp salt or as required
- Coriander leaves and lemon juice for garnishing
- In the pressure cooker or pot, heat the oil. Once heated, add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Once they release their fragrance and the cumin seeds begin to pop, add the onions. Cook till they are golden-brown
- Then add the chopped garlic and the ginger & garlic paste. Mix well and add the chopped tomatoes. You can also use canned tomato puree if you have that at home. Mix well and allow to cook for 2 more minutes
- Add all the dry spices, mix well and wait for the oil to separate from the sides
- Finally add the raw soaked chickpeas or the cooked, drained garbanzo beans.
- If you are using the Garbanzo beans, cover the pot and allow the mixture to simmer for 15-20 minutes on medium heat
- If you are using raw chickpeas, cover the pressure cooker and allow to cook for 4-5 whistles
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves & lemon juice. Enjoy with your favorite Indian bread.