Dec 12, 2016

Sindhi Style Chole (Curried Chickpeas)

Sindh is a province in Pakistan and chole means chickpeas or garbanzo beans. In this hearty vegan recipe chickpeas are cooked until tender in a richly spiced and savory gravy. Spicy but not hot- this dish gets it’s flavors from aromatic spices such as cumin, cloves, black pepper, and brown cardamoms. Serve over toasted bread in the traditional Sindhi manner or with rice and rotis for a delicious vegetarian meal.


This is my absolute favorite recipe for chickpeas. I’ve seen this recipe all over the internet unattributed for many years now. It’s a bit different than other chickpea curry recipes in that the whole spices (brown cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds) are boiled with the chickpeas rather than fried with the gravy. This allows the mellowed warmth of the spices permeate the dish. If you love spices but not the fiery heat of chilis then this is the dish for you. On a recent trip through Delhi I picked up Camellia Panjabi’s much lauded cookbook, 50 Greatest Curries of India. Lo and behold, this recipe was right in the middle of the book!


This cookbook definitely deserves all the praise it’s gotten since it’s original printing in 2006. Please note the glowing endorsement of one of my favorite television chefs, Nigel Slater, in the lower right corner of the cover. As Mr Slater states, this book will delight, educate and inspire anyone who longs to make authentic curries at home. It is certainly a great book for beginners with brief and concise overviews on common Indian cooking techniques and ingredients utilized. The recipes could have been a bit better written (sometimes things on the ingredient list get left out in the instructions), but overall it’s a wonderful collection of authentic recipes from families all over India. (And one from Pakistan?) So with a bit of Bibi-fication here’s my adaptation of Camellia Panjabi’s recipe for "Chickpea Curry from Sindh." According to Ms Panjabi the Sindhi eat this dish over slices of bread for a delightful twist on classic ‘beans on toast.’ Sounds great to me! Like the Punjabis the Sindhi love a bit of a sour tang in their chickpeas from mango powder/amchur. The Kashmiri contingency in my household does not care for the sweetness of mango powder/amchur so I’ve substituted a zingy pinch of dry ginger powder/saunth for it with excellent results. So, whether you enjoy these chickpeas over toast, alone as a soup, or with steamed rice and rotis - you’re in for a delicious vegetarian treat!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole, rinsed and soaked for at least 3 hours, (or two 14oz cans of chickpeas, drained)
1 onion, diced finely
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
7 cloves/laung
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon/dalchini)
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing (optiional)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp salt
4 C water
For masala gravy:
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, diced finely
1 TBS garlic/lahsun
1 TBS ginger/adrak
1 C tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp dry ginger/saunth or mango powder 

Here's what to do:
1) In a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottomed stock pot combine soaked or canned chickpeas with 4 cups water, one diced onion, black cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves or ground cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, hing (if using), turmeric, and one teaspoonful salt. If using soaked chickpeas steam in a pressure cooker for 5-6 whistles or bring mixture to a boil in stock pot for 50 minutes. If using canned chickpeas bring mixture to a simmer in stock pot for 20 minutes or if using pressure cooker steam for 3 whistles. 

2) While chickpeas are cooking we'll make the masala gravy.  Heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee in a kadhai or medium skillet. Fry 2 diced onions until just beginning to brown in pan.

 

3) Add ginger and garlic pastes to fried onions and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add diced or pureed tomatoes, garam masala, and ground coriander to fried onion mixture. Fry for 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the mixture. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir well and reduce heat. Set masala gravy aside until chickpeas are done.


4) When chickpeas have been cooked until just tender add the fried masala gravy and dry ginger/saunth or mango powder/amchur to them, stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture simmers use a wooden spoon to mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot for a gravy thicker if desired.


5) When liquid has reduced to a thick gravy and chickpeas are completely tender your dish is done. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro and/or chopped fresh chilis if desired. Serve over toast or with rice, rotis, and a few chutneys for a hearty meal.


Helpful hints:
Canned chickpeas tend to be underdone. The extra simmering as in this recipe renders them soft and deliciously.

8 comments:

  1. I've been making a chickpeas on toast recipe for years-but the spices in this one sound like a nice change. What is it about beans on toast that always works?!

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    1. Hi Goody,
      I guess it's the contrast in textures? The spices in this recipe are divine!
      The bread you can buy here is so sweet it's more like cake (what Nepalis think foreigners eat?) so we just don't eat bread here.

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  2. There's a big population of British Pakistanis from Sindh in Walsall. I need a dinner invitation!
    In the old days you could only find that hideous white, over-processed, super sweet bread in Goa. Nowadays every street seem to have a German or Nepali bakery with amazing wholemeal bread and artisan loaves. Its pretty rare that we eat Western food when we're there, though. xxx

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    Replies
    1. Hi Vix,
      You don't see too many Sindhi recipes around for whatever reason.
      The German bakery here uses the same super sweet white bread dough for everything. Their 'whole meal' bread is super sweet bread with a tablespoon of molasses worked in & oatmeal sprinkled on top. yuk.
      xox

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    2. I want to eat these delicious choles with bhaturas. Fantastically visually appealing.

      Talking of Sindhis, they are known for their delicious papads.

      Apple

      Apple

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    3. Hi Apple,
      Thank you! I'm having mine with plain ol' brown rice!

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