Chole Bhature

Dilli Waale Chole Bhature

Posted on Posted in Recipe, Vegetarian

I’ve been a Bombay girl all of my life, and I have been quite a vociferous participant in many a Bombay- Delhi debate. I mean tell me one Bombayite, or one Delhiite who has never indulged in this silly argument at least once in their lifetime. It’s almost like the never failing Pavlov’s experiment. Put one Delhiite and one Bombayiite in a room, right after pleasantries are exchanged, a discussion on how one city reigns supreme will take over and emotions will suddenly run at an all-time high.

Chole Bhature
Chole Bhature

So while I enjoyed being a part of this mindless banter, God had other plans. 21 years later I met K, the very typical Delhi boy, walked into my life and the rest is history. And yes, I hated him at first sight, but that’s how all love stories begin don’t they? But, friends and countrymen from Bombay, no the Delhi boy didn’t have it easy. Our love story could actually make for quite a pot boiler of sorts!

Once we got married in 2007, K took me to Delhi – to his childhood – to the little lanes where he played cricket—to the mohalla where one Kalu Bhaiyya made the best tikka toast  – to Kavenders’ for that huge milk bottle of the most awesome cold coffee—to Vaishnav for the best chaat—to Nirulas’ for their chocolate sundae –but his favourite remains the divine Chhole Bhature from Chache di hatti in Kamla Nagar. A visit to this really tiny hole in the wall shop that has been selling piping hot pindi Chole with pillowy soft bhature for over 30 years, is on top of his priority checklist whenever K visits Delhi. No matter how crunched we are for time, the pilgrimage to this shop gains precedence over everything.

My first trip to this iconic shop shall remain etched in my memory forever. We left K’s Noida home at around 9 am on a Sunday, to have a breakfast of Chole Bhature. The Bombayite in me just couldn’t come to terms with the fact of consuming something so heavy for breakfast. I mean who has Chhole Bhature for breakfast? Have you guys not heard of kanda poha, upma, thalipeeth or idli wada? But since I was the new bride, and was very much in love ( I still am, but you know it’s been close to 10 years, now :D) I quietly followed and was patient through his banter during the drive, that we had left a tad too late, and that all would be over by the time we reached. When we finally made it at around 10 am, I was shocked to see a long, really long meandering queue outside the shop. Aah, I’ve married a Delhi boy after all, I thought to myself. We patiently waited for close to 40 minutes to get to the counter and I must say it was worth the wait. The really dark, fabulously spiced Chole served with soft bhaturas and a side of fresh onions and fiery green chillies — this was one of the most sensational food experiences of my life.

Chole
Chole

While we stood there eating, our plates perched on a high stool, a very cheerful group of Punjabi aunties was watching us. One of them walked up to us and congratulated K on his wedding, just like that. K struck a conversation instantly and told them how he had brought his new Marathi mulgi bride to get a taste of Delhi. There, that was enough. In a conversation that had begun for not more than 5 minutes ,these ladies had taken K to be their long lost son and all of them told me how I should learn authentic Chole bhature and stuff him with it at least once a week. In a matter of minutes, I was given a piece of paper which had all the ingredients of that dark secret spice, scribbled on it, all in Hinglish of course. Tips and instructions were given. They blessed us and while they walked away, one of them made me promise that I would never take Delhi out of their Delhi boy!

So I have kept that promise, and I do make Chhole Bhature for K , at least once a week. And for 9 years now, I have followed their instructions to the T. Why? Because I strongly believe that tradition should not be tweaked. Ever.

PROTIP:

The very authentic Punjabi Chole have a beautiful blackish brown hue. For eons I was dropping a tea bag in, while I soaked the Chole overnight. It was only after those aunties parted with the traditional recipe  did I know that I was doing it all wrong. While the tea lends that dark teak colour to the Chole it also gives off its bitterness to the lentil. The age old tradition is to drop some dried amla into the Chole and water concoction for the overnight soak. THAT is the secret to achieving that rich black colour.

Dilli Waale Chole Bhature

Dilli Waale Chole Bhature

Chole Bhature

Ingredients

    For the Pressure Cooking:
  • 1 cup kabuli chana or Chole or white chickpeas
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water for pressure cooking the Chole
  • 2 to 3 dried amla or 1 black tea bag
  • ½ tsp salt
    The Spice Mix
  • 2 black cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 to 4 peppercorns (sabut kali mirch)
  • 2 cloves (lavang)
  • 1 medium indian bay leaf (tej patta) or 2 small tej patta
  • ¼ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • ½ tsp. dry pomegranate seeds (anardana)
  • 1 or 2 dry red chilies
    For the gravy
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 small garlic cloves + ½ inch ginger, crushed to a paste in a mortar-pestle or ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ½ tsp red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
  • ¼ tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, slit
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water or the stock in which the chickpeas were cooked.
  • 1.5 to 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

    Pressure Cooking the Chhole
  • Rinse and soak the chole in enough water overnight. Add enough amount of water as the chole increase in size after soaking it. Rinse the soaked chickpeas.
  • To give a dark color to the chana, traditionally dried amla (Indian gooseberries) are added. These also give a faint sourness to the stock. If you do not have dried amla, then add 1 tea bag.
  • In a pressure cooker add the chole along with the 3 to 4 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. Taj Mahal tea bags work very well. Then add water.
  • Season with salt and pressure cook the chana for 18 to 20 whistles. The chana should be cooked well and softened. The chole should be soft when you mash it with a spoon.
  • By now the chana will be cooked. You will see a darker brown shade in the safed (white chana). Remove the amla pieces which would have softened by now or the tea bag from the stock.
    The Spice Mix
  • In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala mentioned above and on a low heat begin to roast them.
  • Stir often and roast the spices till they get extra browned but, be careful to not burn them
  • Once they are cool enough ,whiz them in a blender
    The Gravy
  • Heat oil in a pan or kadai. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté till are nicely browned
  • Then add chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn translucent
  • Add tomatoes and sauté them till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala.
  • Then add the powdered chole masala, along with the red chili powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder
  • Add the cooked chole. Stir well.
  • Add salt. Then add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the stock in which the chana was boiled. You can also add water instead.
  • Stir and cover the chana.
  • Simmer on a low to medium flame. You can also cook without the lid. The gravy will thicken and reduce. mash a few of the chanas to thicken the gravy
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Chole Bhature
Chole Bhature

The Plating

Serve the Chole with  piping hot bhaturas or fresh kulchas from the bakery. If you’re feeling lazy, just have them with some sliced bread. Fresh onions, green chilles and mango pickle are the perfect partners to the meal.

Enjoy!!

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