How to Make Chole (Spicy Chickpea Curry) Illustrated Recipe

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Chole (Spicy Chickpea Curry)

Chole (Spicy Chickpea Stew)
Chole (Spicy Chickpea Stew). Photo © [S Khalsa]

Chole a kind of Indian food which is a thick spicy chickpea curry made from garbanzo beans. Chole is often served with poori a crispy deep fried Indian style flatbread. Chole can also be served with roti or rice. Chole is popular for special occasions such as weddings or birthdays, rain sabaee (all night), or Asa di Var (early morning) kirtan, and communal gatherings such as Thanksgiving.

Did you know that chole was the favorite food of Tenth Guru Gobind Singh as a child? A gurdwara where he lived in Patna as a young boy, still prepares and serves chole every day to devotees who visit.

To prepare chole for langar, sacred food served as part of a Sikh worship service, focus on maintaining a loving attitude of prayerful gratitude. The meditative vibrations imparted become part of the experience of dining on the spiritual fare of conscious cooking. Fix the mind on thoughts of the divine. Use the tongue and breath for reciting naam jap, prayers, or Gurbani (verses of scripture). Use the ears to listen to the Gurbani being recited, live or previously recorded hymns of kirtan. Devotional humility is an essential ingredient of langar.

To make 4 qts of chole (spicy chick pea curry) you will need:

  • 2 cups dried or approx 1 gallon (industrial sized can) cooked chanas (chickpeas or garbanzo beans)
  • 4 - 6 medium boiled potatoes (optional)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seed (optional)
  • 4 medium diced onions
  • 2 inches (or 2 Tbs) diced ginger root
  • 4 diced green jalapeno chilies (plus 4 Serrano chilis for extra spicy)
  • 4 medium diced or whole tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 2 tsp turmeric (haldi) and, or 2 Tbs chana masala
  • 2 Tbs salt (divided)

4 quarts makes 16 - 1 cup servings or 32 half cup servings.

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Soak Chanas (Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans) Over Night

Chole - Soaked Chanas Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans
Soaked Chanas Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Soak 2 cups dried white chanas, chickpeas, or garbanzo beans in four quarts of water over night.

Chickpeas / Garbanzo Bean / White Chana Resources

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Cook Chanas (Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans)

Cook Chanas Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
Cook Chanas Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Drain rinse and cook soaked chanas (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) in approximately 4 quarts of water and 1 - 2 Tbs. of salt. Chanas may be:

  • Boiled about two hours until soft in stainless steel or sarbloh pot.
  • Cooked for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker.
  • Slow cooked overnight in a crock pot.
Canned chickpeas or garbanzo beans which are already cooked may be used as an alternative and should be drained rinsed and heated in fresh salted water.
Potatoes make a delicious addition to chole. If potatoes are desired wash, peel, cube and cook along with chickpeas, or boil separately.
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Chop Onions

Chopped Onions
Chopped Onions. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Chop or dice four medium onions with a sharp knife or food processor.
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Dice Ginger Root

Chopped Ginger Root
Chopped Ginger Root. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Dice about two inches or two tablespoons of fresh peeled ginger root.
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Dice Green Chilies

Green Jalapeno and Serrano Chilies
Green Jalapeno and Serrano Chilies. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Dice four Jalapeno chilies for a mildly spicy flavor. For extra spiciness substitute or add four diced Serrano chilies to taste.
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Wash Tomatoes

Freshly Washed Tomatoes
Freshly Washed Tomatoes. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Wash four fresh tomatoes. Dice or leave tomatoes whole to stew in skins. Canned tomatoes may be substituted.
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Fry Onions in Hot Oil to Make Tarka

Fry Onions in Hot Oil
Fry Onions in Hot Oil. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Prepare the tarka, or seasoning for the chole. Cumin seed is optional. If used it may be roasted in a dry pan until it darkens and begins to pop. Alternately, heat oil and add cumin seed and roast until releases it's aroma and seeds begin to darken and pop. Fry the diced onions and ginger root. When onions are clear, add green chilies and saute until onions and green chilies are slightly browned (red).
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Add Tomatoes to Tarka (Chole Flavoring)

Stew Tomatoes
Stew Tomatoes. Photo © [S Khalsa]
Tomatoes may be stewed whole in their skins while onions are frying. When onions have browned mash the stewed tomatoes or add fresh diced tomatoes and cook until they are stewed. Canned tomatoes may be substituted after onions have browned and should be fried and mashed to properly prepare tarka.
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Add Seasonings to Tarka (Chole Flavoring)

Chole Seasonings, Turmeric (Haldi) Cumin Seed (Jira) and Chana Masala
Chole Seasonings, Turmeric (Haldi,) Cumin Seed (Jira), and Chana Masala. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Add remaining seasonings to tarka after onions have browned and tomatoes have stewed. Chana Masala is a traditional seasoning used for flavoring chole. Either Turmeric or Chana Masala is essential for making chole and may used together for this recipe.

Add about one tablespoon of salt to the tarka seasonings (add one more teaspoon of salt if using (optional) potatoes.

Add the seasoned tarka to cooked chanas (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) and (optiona)l potatoes, simmer to blend flavors.

Bless the chole with ardas and serve.

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Serve Chole With Crispy Poori

Poori Frying in Oil
Poori Frying in Oil. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Serve chole (spicy chickpea curry) with crispy poori (deep fried Indian flatbread).