Punjabi Chhole (Chickpeas)

Punjabi Chhole/Chana masala with tandooru roti

Chhole bhature is an absolutely decadent treat that is a must-try if you visit Delhi. It is one of Delhi’s many Punjabi specialties. It is also something I cook less often. Only because of a personal preference for rajma (red kidney beans). I have been working on that for the last six months though.

Over the years I have tried many recipes for chhole, including one for the famous fat-free chhole served with Amritsari kulchas, crispy potato stuffed tandoori bread (not like a naan or roti). Now I have my very own recipe, and it is another family pleaser. And, I have to again admit, I don’t rely on the packaged chana masala, good though they are. And there is a reason for that.

A couple of years ago, we ate a delicious dish of chhole at a friend’s place and I, naturally, asked for the recipe. It was a simple recipe, one using all the usual suspects – ginger, onions, and tomatoes – but all cooked together (with chhole) instead of being bhuno-ed (frying in oil ‘till-the-oil-separates’ stage). She had used MDH chana masala. It was delicious, and I remember we all agreed emphatically as we went over the menu on our drive home. I wasn’t going to let a simple easier method pass me by. I got my pack of chana masala and proceeded to cook a few weeks later.

The verdict?

Yeah, it’s good – but not like your usual chhole.

I was told very clearly that that was good for a change, but at home they expected the same old stuff! Rest, as they say, is vanity! And I am still bhuno-ing away to familial glory. And proud that my family can tell the difference between packaged and freshly made masala! [Dil ke khush rakhne ko, Ghalib, yeh khayal achha hai! – you may humour yourself with this thought, says Ghalib. Of course, he wasn’t talking about chhole, but the idea of heaven and hell 😉 , the atheist that he was]. I use the chana masala now and then, in chhole or hidden in other veggies, just to finish it off.

This recipe has also been perfected over many years and fuses the recipes of countless people, including many deconstructed elements from a lifetime of consuming chhole all over Delhi, in homes and in the lanes. I used to waft between blackened and natural coloured chhole. Like everyone else, my mom uses black tea-leaves to darken the chhole. She would tie them in muslin and throw them in, and later retrieve the muslin pouch. Then she started to think it was too much work and would just add the leaves to the chhole; that I did not care for. Then I saw my friend Poonam (she of the onion-aloo-pakoras-in-kadhi-fame), show me an ingenious method to get the chhole to blacken without using tea leaves (which at that stage of my life, I did not want included in any other food stuff). She made her masala fresh, pan roasting the spices to a black shade of brown! Simple, it was! Just the way you do for goda masala.

Anjali’s announcement jogged the memory and I decided to look for the pictures taken months ago…Here is my recipe for Punjabi chhole, guaranteed to bring the flavours of Delhi streets right into your home. Serve them with bhatura or oven-fresh naan. I served some good naan with these one time, modifying Bee’s method; there is no trace of any photographs or clear memory of the modifications I made. Hopefully the changes will suggest themselves when I try the naan again.

Punjabi Chhole
(Chickpeas, the Punjabi way)
Serves 6

3 C Qabooli Chana (chickpeas/garbanzo beans), soaked overnight (or soak for 3-4 hours in hot water)
½ t soda-bi-carb

1” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 C chopped onion
1 C chopped tomatoes
2-3 T oil
2 t red chilli powder
1 t garam masala (optional)

for the masala
2 T (heaped) coriander seeds
1 T anardana (seeds of wild pomegranate), omit if not available
1” piece dalchini or cassia bark
4-5 cloves
1 t black peppercorns
3-4 badi elaichi (black cardamom)
2 t cumin seeds
1 tejpatta (now that I have cleared all the confusion, I don’t need to use Italics, right?)
1 or 2 whole dry red chillies (optional)

to garnish
green chillies, slit down the middle
tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
lime, sectioned

Drain the chhole; some of what makes these beans hard to digest is water soluble and you will get rid of some of that this way. Rinse them out once more to make sure. Put them in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover them (by about an inch). If you like your chhole a bit on the softer side, add half a teaspoon of baking soda (more will make them mush) to the chhole. No salt at this point. Cook under pressure for 20 minutes, or cook covered in a heavy pan till tender.

roasted spicesWhile the chickpeas are cooking, heat a pan to roast your whole spices – I use my cast iron pan. On medium heat roast the spices, all together, shaking and tossing, till they have almost blackened. Cool and grind to a powder.

Heat oil in a heavy pan (or karahi). Add ginger and stir till just fragrant. Add chopped onions and cook till pink, when they are just getting tinged at the edges. Now add the tomatoes and fry (bhuno), stirring all the time, till the oil separates. There isn’t much oil to separate here, so it has to be done on medium heat and takes a long time (20-30 minutes). If there is some parallel kitchen activity going on, then this works very well. When cooking a larger quantity (or when short on time), I would suggest you increase the amount oil (one and half times or double) since you don’t want to be in the kitchen for the good part of a day.

fried pyaz-tamatar

Once the ginger-onion-tomato is fried well and almost dry, add the fresh ground spice blend, garam masala (optional), and red chilli powder. Add the slit green chillies and stir for a few minutes till your kitchen smells like heaven (I think this is an IFR original quote). Remove the green chillies and add this fragrant paste to the cooked chhole, and salt. Adjust water to your liking – I like mine really thick. Mix and cook (simmer) for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then, or cook in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes.

Serve hot with poori, bhature, or naan, garnished with the green chillies you have set aside, wedges of tomatoes (drizzled with oil and swirled around in a hot pan for a minute or two, if you like), and lime. Now, I love chhole.


  1. To save on washing up, I make the fried masala in the pressure cooker pot first, take it out, and then cook the chickpeas in it.
  2. If you have garam masala already, and you are feeling lazy, or you have no faltoo time, use the garam masala + dhaniya powder, and roast a little longer when you add to the ginger-onion-tomato.
  3. If you need to cook low-sodium, omit baking soda, and just cook the chhole a little longer till they are of desired tenderness.

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166 thoughts on “Punjabi Chhole (Chickpeas)”

  1. yumm yumm. your aloo gobhi will be made today. the cauliflower has been longingly looking at us. and hopefully we’ll learn to make consistently good chole. we make decent chole, but it’s hit and miss, with no one recipe.

    Try this recipe and see if you like it…and, you like gobhi already!

  2. Yumm yumm looke delicious. I’ve bookmarkedthe recipie.
    As u are using fresh spices must have been tasting great. I can just smell the last pic 🙂

    Thanks! It really is a family fave!

  3. I can agree with you that the family still likes the “same old stuff” no matter what variations you come up with. I throw in the garam masala and anardhana after frying the onions, but before the tomatoes. That way the chhole turns dark. Ah, now I need some chhole and parathas!!

    Not just taste, it is also the associations with the food, that make them part of our favourite memories…we remember some of the simplest dishes with so much nostalgia…

  4. Now I’m really smiling: I came here to print out your garam masala recipe and get to work, and I find this lovely tasty recipe—and here, I’ve got a fresh sack of chana in the pantry from BG’s and my sojourn to the Indian grocery yesterday afternoon.
    I’m printing this out as well :)!

    …you never know what you gonna get! 😉 You have some nice chocolates in your kitty already!

  5. mmmm love chana masala, but have not been quite satisfied with the mdh chana masala. i have since tried making my own mixtures of spices, and will definitely give yours a go! 🙂

    Another chhole connoisseur…let’s see what you think of this masala!

  6. Rajma te chhole are the best 🙂 Be it plain chhole, aloo chhole or chhole-paneer, chhole of all kinds are yummy! Your naan-chhole plate looks so delish!

    And when do we see your version? Aloo-chhole maybe?

  7. Hi,
    ry adding anardana in the masala after u fry but before grinding. anardana will give u a deeper brown color and a hint of tartness.

    There is anardana in the masala…

  8. anita, j made your aloo gobhi today. just delish, esp. the dark bits at the bottom of the wok. 😀

    I love those dark bits too! I am so happy to see you enjoy your gobhi- you had access to some of the freshest!

  9. Coolness!
    That’s a heap of coriander seeds! Mercy…been to Cyprus? 🙂 Although, it might be good… 😉 I’ve never seen that technique of frying whole, slit chiles, temporarily removing them while everything rehydrates after the bhuno-ing, and then garnishing with them- nibbles of fun eh? Intriguing. Tejpatta? Now, what’s that? 😀

    Why, coriander is plentiful there or is that a cryptic clue? :/

    That ‘technique’ is my own adaptation – chhole is sometimes served with green chillies, tomatoes, and cubed boiled potatoes, all swished around in a little oil. This ‘adaptation’ saves the additional step 😀 .
    Tejpatta, it is…forget it!

  10. Hi … am one of the invisible reader of ur blog.. i get an authentic feel when ever i look through your blog.. i love that.. i love chole and glad u posted another authentic one.. recently when i did the chole the normal way, i didnt have ginger garlic paste, used hing instead and yet because of the channa masala, turned fine… though not dark in color.. Shud try ur and will let u know.. Chole is one of the dish that takes a long time for sure to get it authentically right!! Have a great day and thanks…

    Hey, HC – thanks for de-lurking! I think you are right – I am more of the stick-to-tradition kind of cook. Not much fusion here!

  11. thanks for the great recipe, will make it tom.And now that you have mentioned the R word in the opening para, will pray that i see the rajma recipe soon:)

    one query on the batura..any suggestions on how to make it appear less oily? I made batura once and it looked super oily inspite of all the draining…


    Hmmm…not that I am an expert but I’d say make sure your oil is hot, and don’t mix in too much sooji in the maida (if you use any at all), and very little mohun in the dough. See if it works.
    Let me know how the chhole turned out.

  12. Looks yummilicious! someone asked me when I came here, why I don’t use “Rajma masala” while cooking rajma. I was dumbstruck that a North Indian would use ready made masala for rajma – according to me the best tasting rajma is when it is made with just ginger,garlic, onion, tomatoes and spice powders lovingly sauteed on a low flame. Dont need anything more than that.

    Chana masala – well, I cheat for that, depending on the time I have, I either use fresh or ready made.Im definitely trying this version considering it comes after so much R&D! Thanks!

    That’s so true – rajma hardly needs any masala!

    There are some excellent packaged chana/chhole masalaa out there, so why not?!

  13. yummy… just the right food for this lousy weather and I’m having to sip lemon tea and soup!!

    Ah…a cold, is it? Get well soon! And order some samose – they always work!

  14. hai anita

    ur chole looks really good.i made aloo gobi a few days back,i liked it and i ended up having more but as usual my family was fussy abt it.anyway thanks a lot.

    i have made friends with a kashmiri here in the compound & i enquired abt khawa tea.she said she will give me some when she makes it.it seems she brings the tea leaves from kashmir & acoording to her we do not get that tea here.


    To each his own… 😀 as long as they let you eat what you like!

    Kahva uses a green tea…incidentally, there are no tea-gardens in Kashmir, so the tea leaves do come from somewhere else. The tea leaves are called “bombay chai’ in Kashmir!

  15. That looks YUMMY – i have been using the MDH masala only, and right now have run out of it – so i will try out your fresh masala recipe! We both love chole and from another expert Punju cook’s advice, we never forget to add a fat pinch of hing to the pressure cooker in which the chole is going to cook!

    MDH is quite good…but try this one ans tell me the difference. That hing advice is very good advice! 😉

  16. Thanks for your entry Anita. It looks very very Punjabi. I think I’ll do the fresh masala thing for a good chole :).

    bB spelling needs to be corrected. I’m finicky about the spelling.

    What spelling? Chhole?

    Transliteration is always iffy. But it is better spelled this way, else it becomes like ‘ch’ in ‘chickpea’!

  17. Beautiful anita…I came to look at it again…

    btw what happened to the surprise ingredient..am sure by now its no surprise any more..

    You have truly baffled me with the mystery podi!

  18. Gosh, I can just imagine the deep flavour for the long process of frying the masala. Suganya is right, that first pic in particular is evocative.

    I hope you can find all the ingredients where you are and maybe, give this a try.

  19. oh….no ..my name A-n-j-a-l-i…it got lost in the last msg.

    😳 Fixed…sometimes one finger types faster than the other…and since most our names are underlined-in-red, I missed the misspelling. Sorry!

  20. Thank you so much for this recipe. The blend of masalas look too good. I am sure going to give it a try the next time choles are made.

    I hope you will!

  21. Thanks Anita for visiting my blog site and leaving encouraging words. It helps one to do more. I like your website and the way you have categorized food. I must say, i have to make this chole and serve my friends in the evening, here in Botswana. Lets keep in touch to share our experiences on food.

    Thanks for the visit!

  22. So tell me why the obsession with the dark color? Does it change the taste in any way? Down south, like in Bombay, the chhole are not this dark.

    And a huge hello to A-n-j-a-l-i!

    A very good question…Hmmm…
    My guess would be that a recipe with the slow-roasted spices must have stood out and others may have wanted to replicate it. Or, a multi-tasking cook may have accidentally over-roasted the spices 😀 and created a different version 😉 ! It is also the colour of all restaurant-style chhole bhature (in North India) that home-cooks naturally desire. Tea leaves for colouring must have been an ingenious cook’s short cut to brown-chhole-heaven.
    So, yellow-brown chhole are homey, while these dark brown ones are the street-smart guys.

  23. I now have heaps of your cha-cha-cha-holay and guess what? I like it. It was worth all of the little stirring games that I play whenever I do bhuno-ing… 😀 And the dark roasting of the whole spices makes for a very complex and mellow flavouring, not unlike an excellent cup of coffee. I made one little-itty-bitty change though… [runs for cover] (And no, the dhania level is real goot dere! Cypriots are quite fond of this spice; I’ll prove it in an upcoming post. Eventually.) I even SWIRLED some maters in oil, and made pooris (!). It all makes for a wonderful treat for lunch today with D. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this Anita!!!

    It’ll all be fair as soon as I get the mole recipe (and this Cypriotic one has me intrigued too…)…and what twist did you add? With poori is really good…now try with bhaturas and it will be like you were in Delhi already 😀 .

    You and Manisha with your stirring and games and therapy…

  24. YES! it does not get better than this. I love Chole bhatura and your recipe looks very similar to what my mum makes. Yummy!

    yeah, another Punju stamp of authenticity!

  25. That looks like a perfect recipe Anita! My desparation for cooking the ‘perfect’ chole is well known 😀 Mine come out fine, but the search hasn’t ended! Have to try yours asap! I have a warm feeling that I am going to be very happy 🙂

    It took me some time to get to this one the way it finally is! try it and then tweak it till you have your perfect customised avatar!

  26. Finding another Rajma lover makes me sooooooooo happy 🙂 As much as I love chole, I would give them up them for a bowl of rajma any day! I tried pretty hard to ‘convert’ my gujarati husband into a rajma lover, but no charms worked :p So it is mostly chole for us!

    Don’t give up hope already…intersperse chhole with rajma…rajma is less work too since it is best with rice!

  27. My DH grew up as an army brat and thinks my Maharashtrian chhole are like usal! 🙂 Hopefully your recipe will change his mind

    😆 Yup, these have been given the stamp of authenticity by our Punjabi friends here! Try it and see what he has to say.

  28. just discovered your great foodblog..i must say i love indian food but my knowledge is so limited to curries only..this post titilated my palate with this chickpeas recipe!! by the way i love your photos too

    And I love your photos! And the stories too 😉 .

  29. just wanna say “hi” and thanks for checking out on my blog too…for sure i will regularly visit your site coz i love the array of recipes you propose..for im not good at all on indian dishes..well i havent seen the rest of your old posts will check it 🙂

  30. i’m drooling right now…the chole looks sooo yummy! it reminds me of my childhood…we used to get chole puri (as you know puris are a rare treat amongst kashmiris) every sunday morning.

    Every Sunday, and you call that rare! You lucky girl!

  31. Anita this is the most authentic punjabi chole recipe I’ve tried so far, and trust me, I’ve tried many versions. This one is definitely a keeper – thanks a bunch for sharing your invaluable tips.

    Looks like the Punjabi cuisine is panning out well with you…I am so glad you tried all these recipes, and found them to your liking.

  32. wow, who doesn’t love chhole?? and yorus look so authentic I just need puris or bhatura and I’m all set to give my verdict 🙂

    The perfect pairing!

  33. You guys have stomachs of steel. I made this with 4.5 cups of chhole, no garam masala, about 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder and it was still quite spicy. None of the kids could eat it without smothering it with dahi.

    And no, I wasn’t feeding an army and a half. Just a family of 4 besides us and I was hoping for lots of leftovers, which I am happy to report will help feed us for at least 2-3 meals.

    Yeah… wimps! 😀 But, seriously, if you didn’t use any garam masala and hardly any chilli powder…. then just the pepper and cloves made this too hot to handle?! Jeez… how do you handle them habaneroes – sniff ’em?

  34. Sniffing habanero peppers will send you straight to the ER!

    I used 2 dried red chillies in the fresh ground masala. I think my black peppercorns are spicier than yours! I added 2 green slit Thai chillies and sautéed them just a little bit with the onion masala. Good thing I used only two and took them our rather quickly!

    After a very eventful and noisy night, I had some of this for a late brunch. It tastes really good the next day and the heat mellows down, too. I’d strongly recommend making this a day before you are going to have it.

  35. Anita, I made this for special-sunday-lunch today. It was delicious. Just like the ones served at the restaurants; maybe better.I totally followed your recipe, but omitted red chilli powder as I used bird-eye chillies in the gravy. We both enjoyed it to the fullest extent. Have reserved some for tomorrow, to be devoured with curd rice. Can’t brush aside the South Indian in me :). Thanks a ton for this recipe, Anita. This will be my standard Punjabi chole recipe, henceforth.

  36. Hi Anita, It’s been so long since I visited your blog. Cholley looks delicious. I am definitely book-marking it to try someday. Thanks for sharing.

    Getting busier at work?

    Do try the chhole recipe – and tell me what you think.

  37. I enjoyed reading about your recipe. I have made several chole recipes. I make it up as I go along. Everytime I make it tastes different…………. but who cares :-))) I love food and cooking.

    I have a basic method that I follow; the spice quantities can vary a bit. But, for the blog, I had to pay attention to how much I was adding at what step.
    With no written down recipes, most Indian cooking is like that – with the final dish reflecting a bit of that whim of the cook.

  38. Hi Anita,

    my mom makes pindi chana the same way. we dont use onion tomatoes, garlic or ginger but the masalas are the smae. she fries the masala in an iron kadai and gets the dark brown color. urs look delish.

    I think the chhole served with Amritsari kulchas are like that too.

  39. hi anita ur recipe is really delight , if u know can u tell me about different variations of chhole

    i hope you tried this one (others will make it here in due course…).

  40. wll m student of hotel management and recently working on chhole . do u know pindi chole , lahori chole amritsari chhole ,chikkad chole , chana masala , chatpate chole if u know all with minute details like colour variatin , cooking method variation or else any difference i would like to know n as i was going through ur blog i guess ur a good chhole buddy right?

    Hmmm…shouldn’t you be telling me?! 😆

  41. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe, i have always tried to make a good chole never used to come out right for the first time it has come great i had followed all your instructions to a t. Had a question though is kashmiri garam masala the same as punjabi minus the zeera. My next recipe i have bookmarked is the Mutsch.
    Thank you

    😀 Glad I could help you get chhole the way you wanted.
    Kashmiri garam masala has only cloves, cinnamon, tejpatta, and moti elaichi. No zeera, or black pepper.

  42. WOW…..U r a great cook n yr recipes r authentic. I mk my chole the same way. The way u hv fried the onion’s masala to a darker shade is wat brings in the taste to the dish. All the recipes I hv gone through r good. Thanks.

    Thank you, Priti!

  43. no m really wanna know coz wat we learn in d institute is silly crap they have the poorest recipe i think u r d right person who can guide me for this

    Will see what I can dish up in my continuing quest – but this is the only way I make them these days! I am sure you will find them all if you Google for them!

  44. well finely i tried out ur recipe its coming out well m bit confused dat for how ling i need to cook tomatoes coz its giving sour taste n smell whch i hate d most

  45. Thanks for sharing this recipie. I tried it the other day, and it was just delicious. This is how I am going to make my chole from now on.

    It’s my favourite chhole recipe too, Shilpa!

  46. Ok 1 more query.. does T stand for tablespoon for teaspoon? I am sorry, im Lost !!

    I should probably put in a glossary/index to explain all this… 😀
    T = tablespoon
    t = teaspoon

  47. I just made the masala.. It tastes kinda bitter.. only the masala.. i am yet to make the chole..
    When i roasted the spices, it didnt smell burnt.. neither does it taste burnt… its just KIND OF bitter.. is that how it is supposed to be????

    I have truly never tasted just the masala, so can’t answer that…but the chhole don’t taste bitter at all! Manisha’s response below may help you on… 😀

  48. Jarna, I am obviously not Anita but I felt the masala was bitter, too. I added amchur to the chole to see if it would help tone that down. It seemed to come from the badi elaichi – it’s more of a deep smoky flavor. I wonder if it is the quality of the badi elaichi that matters and have asked for some good quality badi elaichi from India to confirm this. My guests that night, who are originally from UP, didn’t find any bitter undertones even though I still tasted it. By the next day, the masala and the chole tasted really good! As I said earlier, I would strongly recommend making the chole one day in advance as it allows the flavors to meld well.

    I guess I will be taste testing the masala the next time I make this! …though we (and TH seems to have very sensitive taste buds when it comes to smoky flavours) have never found any bitter undertones, so maybe it is the badi elaichi? I will agree that it taste even better the next day!

  49. thanks so much Manisha.. I will keep that tip in mind next time when i intend to make chole 🙂
    Also, I wonder how different is it going to taste if i skip onions in this recipe. My partner is a jain and he prefers food without onion-garlic…

    It should taste good even without the onions…I have made no-onion, no-oil chhole albeit with a different masala.

  50. Hi Anita,

    Just wanted to let you know that I tried this recipe last night, and I must say that it is the best chole I had ever had. It was a bit spicy for me, but I can reduce the pepper next time. Really good! Next i will try your cauliflower recipe. Thanks for the lovely post.

    This does have a very ‘warming’ spice combination because of the pepper. I sometimes leave out the red chillies.

    The cauliflower recipe (gobhi aloo) is a classic!

  51. Lovely chole recipie…
    It reminds me of the sem-dry, masaledar shole my PUnjabi neighbour used to cook for me in Delhi when I was growing up.

    I agree one often takes the usual shortcuts .. but a recipie like this will definitely leave eveyone licking their fingers…
    Must try it soon 🙂

    I hope you did!

  52. This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for all my life!
    Ever time I go to Delhi, I stuff my face with chole bhature at Bengali Sweets in South Ex, I tried out your recipe, and I couldn’t believe how incredibly authentic it tasted, even my firang hubby LOVED it! Its hard to get that perfect dark brown color, the thick gravy and that soft buttery consistency of the chhole and this recipe hits all those key elements.
    It’s going to become a staple in my kitchen, thanks so much for this! I really appreciate you posting this a LOTT!

    😀 Glad to have been of help!

  53. Ooh…I tried it this saturday and all I can say is Thank you very much! It came out SO good and like it should taste. I always wanted to try making it at home since I can’t go to the South Ex Bengali Sweets often as live in US. Last time I went there was in 2006 and hubby couldn’t stop praising it. He’s not desi but he loves Indian food and spicier the better. He’s away on travel right now so he’ll get a good surprise when he gets home. 🙂
    I’ve been reading your food blog regularly since April thats when I came across it the first time. I’ve been lurking mostly and trying recipes but I had to comment after I made the chole. I cooked the chole in the crock pot though since I don’t have a pressure cooker and it took a long time for them to get soft as I like them softer and didn’t want to use baking soda. And I had soaked it little more than 24 hours. And I made the masala separately and then added it to the pot. Thanks again 🙂

    Glad to see you here! Thanks for delurking to tell me you have tried and tested this recipe! Slow cooking must have made them sooo very tasty!

  54. Thankyou very much for the excellent recipe of Punjabi Chhole! I have been looking for a good recipe for quite some time.

    Well, I hope you found what you were looking for!

  55. Hi

    I loved your blog for various reasons – your love of food expressed with a turn of phrase being the most obvious.
    I have a question regarding chhole. Is there a difference between pindi chana and chhole? My bible has been the Hawkins pressure cooker cookbook and that doesnt mention frying onion/ ginger/ tomato paste anywhere, but its for pindi chana. I have another recipe for chhole that does call for the above but is there a difference? Some people have added chane ki daal to the chhole. What’s that for?
    Glad if you could oblige with answers!

    There definitely is a recipe for the famous Amritsari chana-kulcha combo, in which chhole are boiled and then cooked some more with a special spice blend without any oil or onions or tomatoes…
    Adding chana dal is more for a ‘short-cut’ to get thickened chhole without needing to cook them longer since the split dal cooks faster. But I never use that short cut…preferring to savour my long walk!

  56. Very nice, will be trying this within the next few days…I know a Punjabi woman who imparts color to the chickpeas using dried amla pieces – gives a subtle tanginess also.

    As much as I love tea, I don’t like the idea of using it to cook the chickpeas. Chickpeas are a decent source of iron for vegetarians, and I believe the tannins in the tea inhibit iron absorption. (This is not my reasoning for avoiding it)

    Also when pressure cooking the chickpeas, I like to add some whole spices to the water, so that they take up a nice flavour. Usually black cardamom & tej patta
    Love your blog – thanks

    I hope you did get to try the recipe. I like the idea of adding amla – it should be great for the colour and flavour – a nice variation for anardana.
    My mother too adds black cardamom and tejpatta to the chickpeas as they cook – and it imparts a wonderful aroma, you’re right!

  57. Tried it today with the shortcut of using Garam masala powder and dhania powder and it turned out ABSOLUTELY YUMMY. Thanks for the wonderful recipe

    Hmmm…you did try this too then! and the bharleli mirchi? Thanks for providing the test-kitchen!

  58. I am Indian my husbands American and he had never ´real´punjabi chole … till I tried this recipe. Thanks!!

    Glad to be of help! This is the place for ‘real’ recipes! 😉

  59. This is the first chhole recipe I’ve tried (out of a dozen or so) that tastes like the chhole at my favorite Indian restaurant.

    I used canned chickpeas since the dried ones take so long to cook (no pressure cooker here), and was out of tejpatta, but this recipe is so good I’ll make it completely from start to finish next time with the dried chana. They taste so much better and have a nicer texture.

    This will quickly become a favorite in our house. Thank you, thank you!

    Cooking chana without a pressure cooker must take an inordinately long time – so thank heavens for the canned kind! If this becomes a family favourite you might consider getting one! Then you could cook any bean in a short time, and boil potatoes in minutes too!

  60. hello
    i am honoured to know u
    i was craving for these for weeks and tried every where in london to get some
    and when i saw this simple recipes i immediately thought this can work and also the pictures were very helpful
    so i tried it yesterday we all loved it very much.
    one thing i like to know is what ‘C’ stands for?
    i also noticed it was a little bitter so i added some more fried onions and greek yogurt which helped to eliviate the bitterness. please get back to me if you know how to get rid of bitterness in any other way.
    many thanks

    To tell you frankly, I have never tasted any bitterness in the masala or the finished dish, so I am quite clueless. From what some others have said here, maybe it is not-too-fresh spices, particularly the black cardamom. You could try using fresh ones in case you have had yours for some time, or reduce the quantity and see if it makes any difference.

  61. Recipe looks great and will try it out soon. Dumb questions: do you peel the black cardamom before roasting and can you use fresh pomegranate?

    Use black cardamom skin and all.
    Anardana are dried wild pomegranates which are sour. Amchur is a good substitute.

  62. Hi Anita,
    I tried ur Chhole recipe a month back and it was yummiest chhole I have ever tried. My guest were finger lingering to my Chhole+ Bhature:) I also love ur recipe of Punjabi Garam Masala, Sookhi Alu Gobi, etc. And today, I am going to make ur Chhole again.
    Thanks a bunch Anita!!!

    🙂 Hi Sonu! Thanks for trying it out! And you had the perfect combo – I think these are best with bhature!

  63. Hey Anita! Just stumbled onto ur blog for the first time & wanted to congratulate u for all ur painstaking effort!!Do keep it up!!Cheers!….Since my Dad’s family originally hails from Rawalpindi (Now in Pakistan & home to the Pindi Channas)& i couldn’t resist but add that all our lives there has been an obsession of sorts in my paternal side of the family( Grandmother/dad/Uncles/aunts) to recreate that one original recipe that comes closest to what they ate on the streets of Rawalpindi sum 60 yrs back! Phew! Each proclaiming their own to be better than the others resulting in major family cookoffs/recipe variations/serious dicussions in the matter LOL!!!Given our Family Love for the Pindi Channas/Choley amongst other cuisines I found one thing common in all variations of this recipe that Authentic Pindi Channa commonly lacks the use of tomatoes/onions etc…One simply adds half of the finely shredded Ginger shreds & slit green chillies with the dark brown roasted powder in hot oil as a tempering which is then topped with the boiled channas ,slow cooked to ones own preferense dry/ semi-wet.This is then garnished with Green chillies/Ginger julinnes /lemon wedges/sliced onions/coriander….thus doing away completely with the use of onion & tomatoes like sum of ur fellow bloggers were inquiring about!!Just thought I should mention this point that is why this is our family’s staple puja /special occasion food as well!! Happy Blogging!:0)

    Welcome to these pages, ABK! (sorry that I am getting to these comments so late….)
    Thanks for shedding some more light on pindi chana vs. regular chhole. It seems pindi chana is similar to what is sold with kulchas in Amritsar as chana-kulcha… A very healthy version of chana that is less work too I might add. What a foodie family you have and I hope you can share your family recipe sometime….

  64. I never got around to posting another message, but I did follow this recipe and it was unique and surprising…much different from what I had made from scratch or packet masala, mostly due to the dark roasting of the spices.
    I have phases of making chhole once a week (which lasts for several meals) for a few weeks. then a few months will pass before i start craving it again. of all the variations i have tried (many!), i love dalchini as the predominant “sweet” spice. also this is one dish where i have become quite set on blending the “gravy” until very smooth. silky, fragrant, spicy, sweet, a little tang, and my favorite legume. so satisfying…also for some reason, i like to eat it late in the evening. 🙂

    thanks again..i will be coming back to your recipe now that i’m craving it again

    Hi Adam. Ummm looks like you are a chhole fan alright! It has begun to grow on me too and now I like it as much as I like rajma! The slow roasting of spices does indeed give this dish an amazing depth of flavour!

  65. Wow,an authentic Punjabi chole!.Its so inviting.
    I usually use the store bought chole masala.But now im gonna stick to this freshly made masala which i guess is the perfect blend of spices.Can’t wait to try this 🙂

    Welcome to the Party, Madhu. If you try it, do tell us here how yours turned out!

  66. Hi Anita, I’ve been one of those lurkers on your site, and I’ve read and enjoyed all your posts and can only apologize for not leaving a comment earlier.

    I tried your chole recipe y’day and it was just fabulous. Trying out a recipe and getting such a lovely result ensured that I express my thanks.

    This is going to sound bizarre, esp coming from a stranger, but I have stared longingly at your chole pic for ages! Every time I had a craving for chole, I would look at your page until something pressing distracted me. I just never got up and made it until y’day. Thank you once again for sharing this lovely recipe.

    How nice to have you de-lurk, Anuradha! it is always great to hear that the recipe turned out fine.
    Hope you will get around to try more from here…. Thanks for reading!

  67. this recipe looks fantastic I have yet to make it – I just found your posting – I have a several questions –
    1. 2 T coriander seeds and 1 T anardana seems to be quite much
    2. 3 cups chole seems like it would make more than 6 servings
    3. I do not understand note #2 – and what is dhaniya?

    I think I sd say – serves 6, when served with only a salad. But it has been pointed out that we are big eaters… 😀

  68. This is a nice recipe. I tried it.. Mine ended up with a bit of kasaili (bitter) tinge, probably due to extra garam masala or may be spices were a bit hot! any suggestions??

  69. This is the best cholle recipe I have ever used. One needs to follow instructions really well though. Although after trying it 3-4 times I know the recipe like the back of my hand. I have lived in Delhi for a long time and this recipe is as close as it gets to Bengali market or Thursday market (Veer Bazaar) cholle……(for those of you who have lived in Delhi you know what I’m talking about).

  70. This recipe looks great! One question… is the optional garam masala (as referred to in the “lazy” shortcut note) only meant to be used if it replaces the dry-roasted spice blend listed in the recipe? Or is the garam masala meant to also be optionally used in addition to all the dry-roasted spices? I notice many of the same ingredients are used in both garam masala and dry-roast mixture. I just want to be sure I’m understanding this point correctly. Wonderful blog and I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

    Hi jk! Use garam masala in lieu of fresh ground spices…the spice mixes do indeed have the same blend!

  71. Hi Anita,

    I like chhole black but husband hates the taste of tea leaves. so, while looking for ideas, I came across yours. Made it the way you do and Voila! Its was great..Not just the color, also was more fragrant because of the freshly ground spices. Earned me some brownie points too, all of which goes to you. Thanks 🙂

    I add abt 2 tsp tamarind chutney too. Gives it a little tang I like in chhole.

  72. Thanks for the Punjabi Chole recipe. I prepared it twice with good result. Do you have a recipe for Rajmah.

    Thanks again

    Raj Pandita
    Los Angeles

  73. This recipe turned out awesome. I got the dark black color that I really wanted. The taste was out of the world! I didn’t have anardana at home, so substituted with tamarind paste ( was not a bad substitute). Thanks! I look forward to experimenting more of your recipes.

  74. Hi Anita,
    Just tried this recipe. Very tasty chhole!
    Request: could you post your recipe for shalgam, gobi, gaajar aachaar?
    Janaki Turaga

  75. Yummmmy! Hubby was locked in a room working while I slaved in the kitchen. As soon as he stepped out of his den, he yelled, “whats this amazing aroma”. LOL… Cudnt keep him out of the kitchen after that. Made some for guests that are coming home tonight. I’ve always looked arnd for the “perfect chhole”. Guess I found it after all 😀

    Thank you!

  76. This Diwali is the third time I made this wonderful hubby-pleaser 🙂 It always turns out great and consistently tastes better the next day!
    One question: I don’t have anardaana seeds, have the powder. And each time, my chhola was less sour than I like. Can I add khatai/amchoor to the tomatoes while cooking? Or, where can I buy whole anardaana? Never quite saw it in Indian stores, or maybe I’m missing something… Thanks a bunch for your beautiful blog. The stories make for a wonderful read themselves!

  77. Hi,

    I am a South Indian and have never been satisfied with my chhole. My husband loves North Indian food and I came across this recipe after several average to good attempts-your recipe is FABULOUS !!! We both loved it ! I can’t rave enough! Thanks so much !! (Loved the baking soda tip)
    Can you please post a tried & tested basic roti recipe if possible? I have been aiming to achieve the perfect roti for the past year too !
    Thank u once again!

  78. anita, what a lovely blog.i didnt know there were so many lovely blogs out there from our part of the world (I only entered the blogging world two weeks ago). i love reading about delhi, have always wanted to visit- hopefully sometime soon as i have lots of friends there. but many in bombay, too. so, tough decision! your blog is lovely. best wishes, shayma

  79. Anita,

    Tried you recipe. The color was great.
    Might be the best chhole I have made till date.
    However had a bitter tinge to it. Any clue what that could be


  80. A big thank you, your recipe is so well written , especially for starter cooks like me. Thanks esp for the tips on saving time while cooking.

  81. Your chhole recipe is amazing. I like your method of adding colour to the final product. Time to throw away the tea bags!
    Works well with other masalas as well.

  82. Hi..
    Was searching 4 punjabi chole recipe today nd ur recipe was the first one to popped up on google:)going to make it today 4 dinner..!will let u know d result tomorrow..!!
    Thanks 4 sharing it:):)


  83. hi anita!
    i got ur blog link through IFR. i made your chole the other day. my problem is my chole turned out so bitter. i didnt want to waste the chole. so i refrigerated it. a couple of days later when i wanted to trash it, i tasted it out of curiosity.the bitterness had vanished (99%) 🙂
    here are my questions to u
    1) among the spices required for chole… which one causes bitterness upon roasting
    2) if my chole’s bitterness vanished after storing it, do u think i need to add oil while roasting my spices (my guess is if i roast in oil it might not turn out bitter)
    3) this question is not related to the bitterness: there is a unique flavour which i get in north indian chat dishes. is this due to the addition of black salt?
    i loved the color of the chole and it did taste yummy.

    Some readers who have tried this recipe have mentioned bitterness…but I am at an absolute loss to explain why it happened; I have never had any bitterness in my chhole and my husband has a very sensitive tongue as far as bitterness goes (otherwise also)! Find the freshest of spices and take care while roasting them – over-roasting will surely turn them bitter!
    Glad you tasted the chhole the next day before sending them to the trash – Manisha too found her chhole were better the next day (like so many other dishes) when they had mellowed; we like them fresh and as leftovers!

    About the unique flavour of North Indian chaat dishes – I agree that kala namak is a key ingredient in most chaat masalas, but different types of chaat call for different masalas.

  84. Pingback: Punjabi Chhole
  85. Awesome…chhole looks appealing in a non-restaurant, homely kind of way. The way I prefer it compared to the oil-drenched, food-color contaminated restaurant chhole.

    These have gained special cult status now!

  86. Yummy recipe…love the Rajma a little more than the chana must admit…but this looks really irresistible…have to try it NOW…going to soak Chana…thks for sharing ur recipe.

    Same here!
    But these are next best! 😉

  87. Hi Anita,

    I was just commenting about your recipe in Sailu’s blog (http://www.sailusfood.com/2011/03/16/punjabi-chole/) on the chole which she has taken inspiration from you. Just wanted to pop in and say thank you for the post and will try out sometime and see how it goes :). Stumbled this post now


    Thanks, Krish, for the visit. This recipe is a keeper and stays true to itself even after a few things are changed here and there…

  88. I tried it for holi potluck everybody loved it , but didn’t use the entire powdered masala saved about a tbsp .

    Did you use it in something else?

  89. finallyyyyyyyyyyyy…finally..i hv got to know the color of “bhuna-masala”! 🙂 ty very much and wonderfully delicious blog! 🙂

    Glad to be of help, Poonam!

  90. tried your chole recipe yesterday… it was wonderful and really really delicious– kids loved it. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

    It pleases every time! Thanks for stopping by to leave a note, Medha!

  91. Thanks for this amazing recipe! I made it twice already 🙂 Thanks much for sharing it, absolutely love the flavor from fresh ground spices.

    🙂 Enjoy!

  92. I tried this tonight and it was delicious……. My entire family loved it and I can’t thank you enough for sharing this wonderful recipe with us … and yes, kitchen smelt like heaven when the fresh ground spices were added to the ginger-onion-tomato mixture 🙂 Thanks a ton!

  93. Just tried this recipe Anita! Loved it. The colour came out really well. I halved the recipe. The powdered masala came about 4 tbsps. Used 2 tbsps for 3 cups of ‘cooked’ channa.
    Thankyou for sharing the recipe. I used the garam masala too. 🙂

  94. This is a fantastic recipe and really clear instructions. I have been struggling with ‘bhunaoing’ onions and tomato masala just right despite watching my mom occasionally. The chole was simply superb.

  95. i tried the receipe and the chole turned out better than i had imagined. this is a keeper

    It is a much tried and loved recipe!

  96. Wow! Mouthwatering recipe.Like to make it.
    Can u tell me what is the one cup measure(in ml) in this recipe(according to that measure we will take the spices given by you)
    New to cooking,expecting ur reply eagerly.
    We will get back to u with the result once done soon.

    Quick, Google it!

  97. Hi Anita
    I landed here via the copied version of this recipe. Looking at the list to be roasted and ground I was in a mood to pass this one, I was craving chhole but feeling lazy. But then after seeing the response to this recipe and the number of “copies” of this on the internet, I guess this one had to be tried!
    While I have visited your blog before, this is the first recipe I have tried. And it has turned out nice. Somehow the color of my chhole isn’t as dark as yours, probably I didn’t roast my spices enough. I also was out of anardana and green chilies, so skipped them. Read a tip about adding hing to cooking beans and felt it made sense, so did that. And used a bit of ghee with oil to cook :D. Also added a small pinch of Haldi! Cannot imagine cooking a sabji minus haldi….some mental block, what to do!
    I usually follow a different recipe, from Meera of Enjoy Indian Food which I make with a few adjustments and love it. But I am glad I tried your recipe today. It is awesome as well.

    BTW this is the first time I made chhole without garlic! Was a bit skeptical at the beginning, but I am glad I followed your recipe almost to the T.

    🙂 The ‘history’ behind this popular recipe is interesting now! I am glad you decided to try this version and liked it! The recipe has evolved over a long time, and now continues to do so in many homes – a little haldi here, a bit of ghee there…all is good!

  98. Firstly, thanks for posting the recipe and all your comments. It’s great to see passionate people who are willing to share their experiences. I’ve been all over the world, and Indian food is by far the best I’ve had. It’s something of a mission for me to learn how to cook it.

    Well, my quest continues. I finally made this precisely according to the instructions, including the garam masala. I’ve been working on finding a worthy Chana recipe for months now, most recently with the Slate recipe “You’re doing it wrong – Chana Masala” recipe, using the mix recipes from vegrecipesofindia. A very tasty, if low key, chana dish.

    Your dish features black cardamom very prominently, and my American palate is not quite ready for it. It tastes significantly different than the wonderful smoky roasted almond aroma the pod husk gives off. I made a mistake by not grinding the black cardamoms properly, and I ended up with some very tough bits in the final product.

    I will strain the remaining masala, notch down the black cardamom a smidge and try again. Thanks again for posting this recipe.

    Hi, Robert! Thanks for the feedback on this post!

    One way to control the black cardamom flavour might be to omit it completely from the spice mix and instead add one or two to the cooking chickpeas. Traditionally, black-cardamom is braised in the liquid of a dish and not roasted or fried, as many other spices are. That should impart a much milder flavour. The flavour mellows if the chhole sit around in the fridge for a day!

    Indian food can be as simple or as complicated as we want it to be. You will find many easy, everyday dishes in the other posts on this blog that you could test to continue your adventures into Indian cooking. Cook on!

  99. I made your chole masala and it was delicious. Thanks for the recipe. when I update the blog, will link it back to you post. Thanks once again.

  100. The number one blog post with over 62K hits, not bad dear sis. And, to think that I had never used this recipe. I am on it todayAnita, if you wash the chole and drain the water in which the chole were soaked overnight, the water soluble nutrients are washed away. so i decided to soak the chole in just enough water so that there is essentially nothing to wash away. will let you know how it turned out. The only thing is there is still bhunuoing (we are coming up with a whole new language of hinglish). Love you and I am very proud of you my dear. Who would have thunk that you would get all your first loves – writing, architecture, and cooking all worked out well for a good balance in life. Did I forget the most important first love – Vijay – you know we love you and have a great time celebrating his B’day today.

    But, it seems sometimes like you need more hours in a day to balance everything out properly. 😉

    Glad you finally tried the recipe.

    The jury is still out on whether or not to discard the soaking water. Some say it is mostly flatulence-causing sugars that are leached out while others say that it is also other nutrients that are actually good for you. In fact, the new gyanis are recommending soak all your lentils overnight and discard the soaking wate. But, then science is fickle and they change, rather over-turn, everything they said before all the time. So, sis, do as suits you, it’s all good!

  101. Hi…plan on trying your chole recipe .Wanted to clarify what you mean by 3C of channa.Does that mean 3 cups of cooked chole or 3 cups of uncooked (wont that be a lot of chole??)
    Also is it 2 cups of onion and 1 cup of tomatoes??

    1. Yes, Maya, C=cup. 3 cups dry chhole recipe is a lot but that’s what I would cook for a family of six-eight with just a little leftover for the next meal. You can reduce the quantity as you need.

  102. Finally tried this choke, Anita. Came out delicious. I was remembering the chole of my childhood from the mithaiwala in Karol Bagh. I added some cranberries while frying the onion-tomato paste since I did not have raisins at hand. Also added some amchur. These two additions balanced the theekhapan with a Khatta-meetha undertone. This is the most delicious chole I have made. Thanks for the recipe.

    Better late than never! Yes, as long as you have the khatta there and some meetha can’t hurt.

  103. hi there, very nice and easy steps you explained that even if some one is not familiar with Indian recipes, he /she also can understand from here easily . i love chana masala, i tried many time to cook at home but it was never up to mark.once i will try it again by following your steps.

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