Chickpea curries are made across India, and like most Indian dishes, the flavour profiles vary between regions; within those regions every family has their own recipe, and method of preparing the dish. One of the best things about Indian food is that there is so much room to play with flavours and really make each dish your own. This curry is called chole, pronounced cho-lay, in Punjabi. Its dark colour and depth of spices sets it out from other chana masalas – all equally as delicious! Punjabi chole are spicy, smoky, and bursting with flavour. This recipe is reminiscent of one I grew up eating. If you’re sensitive to spices, or heat, use half the amount of ground masala and save the other half for next time! This recipe is best enjoyed with puri or bhatura, but you can also serve with rice in a pinch.
Masala (Spice Mixture)
Rinse the soaked chickpeas well, place in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker with baking soda, the tea bag and enough water to cover the chickpeas by 3 inches. Manually set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes are complete, manually release the pressure, then let sit for a couple minutes before opening. Strain the chickpeas and reserve two of cups of the cooking liquid. If the tea bag bursts, simply wash the chickpeas and strain the liquid so no tea leaves remain.
Make the masala (spice mixture): Dry roast all of the whole spices in a small skillet over medium low heat.
Once the spices are aromatic and the colours have deepened, remove from the skillet and blend to a powder in a coffee grinder. Set aside.
For the onion masala, place the onions, garlic and ginger in a mini food processor, pulse until very finely chopped. Set aside.
Place the tomatoes and green chilis in the food processor, pulse until pureed.
In a large skillet or pot on medium high heat, add the oil or ghee. Add the onion mixture, cook on medium heat until the onions are a light golden brown.
Add the tomato mixture, half of the spice mixture, the turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, and anardana or amchoor powder to the onions. Cook until the oil begins to separate, stirring often.
Add the chickpeas and 1 ½ cups cooking liquid to the masala. Set the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Mix the chole, adding water if it’s too thick. Using a potato masher, gently mash some of the chole. This helps thicken the curry slightly. About ¼ of the chickpeas should be broken/mashed. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.
Plate and garnish with fresh lemon juice, thinly sliced red onions and more cilantro.