Punjabi Chole

It’s been a long and lovely summer, and I have been away enjoying it. I have spent the last month revisiting some of my old recipes, travelling around in our old camper and rediscovering the joys of cooking with minimal equipment and facilities.

I will be sharing my discoveries in the weeks to come, but to get back in the groove here is a very simple, lightly spiced chick pea dish that is very much more than the sum of its parts. When I first saw the recipe I couldn’t believe it would be at all interesting, but my policy is always to make a recipe as it is written and then see how I can improve upon it. I can’t recall where I first saw this, which is a real shame because whoever first wrote it deserves all the credit – I don’t think I have tinkered with it at all, something as delicious as this cannot be improved upon.

The recipe calls for dried chickpeas – canned will do, but I urge you to take the plunge and do this the long way. Preparing the chickpeas the way I describe will give you creamy, delicious chickpeas the like of which you have never, ever tasted, and that’s a promise.

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RECIPE – feeds 2 

150g dried chickpeas

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp fine sea salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 bay leaf

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil if making vegan)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don’t want the extra heat)

1 heaped tbsp ginger paste/pureed ginger

a large thumb of fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 lemon, zest and juice

a big handful of fresh coriander, chopped


METHOD

The evening before, soak the dried chick peas in plenty of water (they will absorb a lot) with 1 tbsp flour, 1 tbsp fine sea salt and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, stir well and set aside.

The next day, rinse the chick peas well, there should be no salt left on them. Put into plenty of water with the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks and bring to the boil, then simmer for 60-90 minutes until they are soft and tender, skimming off any scum if necessary. You may need to add more water as it evaporates. If you have a pressure cooker it will save you a lot of time, cook as per the instructions for your device (mine takes around 25 minutes).

Drain and set aside, removing the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks.

If you are using tinned chickpeas, use two tins; you won’t need the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, bay leaf or cinnamon sticks.

Heat the ghee (or oil) in a large pan, when hot cook the onion over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until softened but not coloured. Make a paste out of the turmeric and cinnamon by putting them into a small bowl and adding a little water. Set aside for now.

Add the chillies, the ginger paste, fresh ginger and the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer before adding the turmeric and cinnamon paste. Cook on for a minute, stirring so everything is thoroughly coated, then add the chickpeas. Stir thoroughly again, adding a little water if needed, and cook gently for ten minutes or so.

At this point you can leave the chole to sit for a few hours until you are ready to eat. Giving it time will intensify and soften the flavours.

When ready to eat, warm the chole gently and just before serving stir through the lemon zest and juice, garam masala and fresh coriander.

This is great served alongside Basmati rice, naan bread and carrot and ginger salad.