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!
1 onion, diced finely
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing (optiional)
1 tsp salt
2 onions, diced finely
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.
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.
Canned chickpeas tend to be underdone. The extra simmering as in this recipe renders them soft and deliciously.