Sep 26, 2016

Chikar Chole (Curried Chickpeas)

Chikar Chole Curried Chickpeas chana, chickpeas, gabanzo, beans, lahore, punjabi, easy, recipe, dal, legumes, spicy, curry,

From the city of Lahore comes this classic dish. Chikar means mud and chole means chickpeas. The unique name of this recipe describes the chickpeas submerged in the rich golden gravy like pebbles in mud. Traditionally, this dish is served for breakfast with fried breads like bhatura and puri. But this dish is so hearty it's perfect for an Autumn lunch or simple supper served with rice, any type of roti, or just a loaf of crusty French bread. 

Interestingly, this dish does not get it's yellow color from turmeric as many Desi dishes do. The chickpeas are simmered with aromatic spices until so tender they crumble giving the gravy it's distinctive golden color. This dish packs a lot of spicy flavor but not much heat. A little yogurt, dry ginger, and an optional squeeze of lime/nimbu do give it a bit of a zesty tang though!

1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole (or two 15 ounce cans of chickpeas)
3 TBS cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp ajwain seeds/carom
7 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
3 cloves/laung
3 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
Lime/Nimbu wedges and cilantro for garnish
Grind until smooth paste or chop finely for base:
3 onions, chopped roughly
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
Grind until smooth paste for masala:
1/2 C tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C yogurt/dahi
1 TBS cumin/jeera, ground
2 tsp coriander/dhania, ground
1 tsp fennel/saunf, ground
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
1/2 tsp dry ginger/soonth

Here's what to do:
1) Soak chickpeas for at least 2 hours up to overnight in 6 cups water with 1 teaspoonful of salt. If using canned chickpeas skip to step 2. If using pressure cooker add enough water to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches plus 1 tsp salt. Seal pressure cooker and allow to steam for 30 minutes or until chickpeas are tender. If using stockpot on stove add enough water to cover chickpeas by 3 inches and 1 tsp salt, boil until tender adding water as needed.

2) Grind onions, garlic, and ginger to smooth paste or chop finely and mix together. Set aside. Grind all ingredients listed for masala to smooth paste and set aside. In a deep, heavy bottom skillet or kadhai heat oil. Fry onion mixture with 1 tsp salt until just beginning to brown. Stir frequently. This should take about 7-8 minutes. Add cumin seeds, ajwain seeds, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cloves, green cardamoms, cassia bark, and cassia leaves and fry for 2 minutes.

3) Add ground masala mixture to fried onion mixture in pan. Stir well and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 cup water, stir well, and reduce heat.

4) Add fried spice mixture to the cooked chickpeas and stir well. If using canned chickpeas you may need to add 2 to 3 cups of water. Canned chickpeas are a bit underdone for this dish so you may have to simmer them for 5 to 10 minutes longer to get them to the proper tenderness.

5) Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes. Mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon or you can use an immersion blender for a few seconds in the mixture. The chickpeas need to be cooked until so tender they start to crumble making the sauce thick and "muddy." Salt to taste and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro and garnished with lime wedges.


  1. That sounds so incredibly good right now.
    Since chickpeas find their way into our diet a few times a week (I've been known to eat them straight from the tin)this will be tried before the week is out.

    Our weather turned cool, and that sounds like a perfect breakfast as a version of "beans on toast."

    1. Hi Goody,
      Chickpeas are my favorite too.
      "Beans on toast" are a British raj relic that has remained an Indian favorite too. You can even buy a curry version of the canned Heinz beans here. I've seen BOT served at breakfast buffets in 5 star hotels in India & Nepal too. Actually I made a Sindhi style curried chickpea yesterday for lunch that is served atop toast in the Pakistan side of Punjab so I gues Pakistanis like BOT too!

  2. Chick peas actually remind of a delicious chik pea dish "Mutton Ghuguni" (chick peas cooked with mince meat). I think the recipe is the same with the addition of keema.

    My late mother used to cook this dish and it was her specialty in the neighborhood. After Dussehra, at the commencement of Durga Pooja, Bengalis visit each other house, touch the feet of elders, seek their blessing, and sweets are served. This when delicacies like mutton ghuguni, coconut laddos and namkeens are served. Nowdays, ofcourse due to fast pace of life these traditions are fading away.


    1. Hi Apple,
      Chickpeas cooked with minced mutton sounds deelish!
      Many of the traditions of old have been abbreviated in modern times. Did you know that Xmas used to last 12 days?

    2. I remember my mother used to make wok full of Guguni, coconut laddo, namkeens etc., the whole neighborhood gathered in our house and we had a good time. I still remember the taste of the guguni. It is like one of those childhood memories forever stuck in your mind. In those days people did visit homes, now everything is on phone and facebook, no happy new years cards either.

      This is hot guguni on the street

      There is another form of ghuguni with roasted masala green peas which is more like dry chaat with green chilly, onions, lemon. It is quiet a versatile recipe, just keep changing the ingredients.


  3. BOT made with curried beans from a can?! Thanks, Bibi and Goody, for an idea which I'll pursue at Jungle Jim's next time I'm in Cincinnati. Have also added green cardamom seeds to The List. Winter is on the way, and beans in a pot rank high on my repertoire of coping maneuvers.

    1. Hi Beth,
      I'll take my BOT with buttered sourdough please!
      "Tis the season for beans & cardamom indeed!

  4. @ Bibi

    Have you ever tried staining chick peas with tea to get that delicious dark brown colour, you know the type of choles served with baturas. I find the staining process quiet innovative


    1. Hi Apple,
      I've tasted chole made that wat and the tannic acid from the tea is a bit harsh. Apparently dried amla was used to stain the cloe before tea. I just use barista if I want chhole that dark.

  5. I love chickpeas! My husband grizzles no end that I seem to put them into any curry I make. (I don't, because he grumbles so much.) I'm definitely going to have a go at this one at some point.

    Curried beans are a thing here too, though it's easy to make them by stirring a teaspook of curry paste into a tin of the tomato sort.

    1. Hi Mim,
      Chickpeas are the shizz!
      Hmmm, not there's an interesting idea to make curried beans, Anything tinned costs a bomb up here so they're like a luxury item.


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