Chole (With Spice Mix From Scratch!)
I have a problem. I like to experiment with my guests. I really do. It’s odd and probably really unnerving for my dinner guests. I mean can you imagine being the guinea pig? Before you get all sweet and nice on me and say – “Raj – I would love to be invited to your culinary experiments”.. let me warn you. The first time I made chilli was when my brother-in-law was visiting me. Let’s just say I got lucky – his mother happened to be a kitchen experimenter too and that recipe will not be appearing on this blog unless Sonia decides to blog a chilli.
But what can I say? People inspire me to be better (hopefully), to be bolder, to be a scientist and well.. to tinker. So when I invited my friends over to my home for the first time the other night – I decided to let my experimenter loose. We were a total of 11 adults and 3 kids. And all of them were driving for over 4 hours to get to my home. I knew it was likely that each group would arrive independently so I wanted to cook something that just got better as it sat. Guess what gets better as it sits – any bean dish with spices. Yup – the southerns do this with chilli and the Indians do this with Chole.
Chole is basically spiced chickpeas (garbonzo beans). They are sooo good. And really a healthy dish packed with protein for the predominantly vegetarian party I was hosting.
Normally I make these with a spice mix that I buy at the Indian grocery store. Something like this:
But like I said – I couldn’t waste this opportunity to experiment!!
So I decided to create a spice mix of my own. I searched up a bunch of different chole spice recipes online and decided to combine them together based on my tastes. And oh it was a hit! I love it when experiments turn out amazing!
Without further delay – here is the recipe – with my very own spice mix!! I’m so excited to share this!! (Oh and a big thank you to my friends for putting up with the involuntary experiment!)
Chole (With Spice Mix From Scratch)
Makes: 6 – 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour and 10 minutes + overnight soaking of beans.
The Spice Mix (Masala):
- 5 large black cardamoms (also known as Badi Elaichi)
- 1 inch cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder)
- 5 peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (also known as jeera)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (also known as dhania)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (also known as saunf)
- 2 cups dry chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans)
- Enough water to soak and cook chickpeas
- 3 medium onions
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp garam masala (vary based on taste)
- 2 tsp cayenne powder (vary based on taste)
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
- 2 teaspoons dry mango powder (also known as amchur powder) (vary based on taste)
- 1 tablespoon oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
- salt to taste
2. Put the chickpeas in the pressure cooker with salt and water and cook as instructed. I had to put about 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt for every 1 cup of soaked beans and cook for 12 minutes after the first whistle. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply boil the chickpeas in a pot until they are soft. They should should be easily crushed with a fork. Drain and save the water that it was cooked in.
3. In a small non stick pan, dry roast all the spices required for the spice mix until fragrant. You’ll see the seeds turn a deep rich brown color. Set aside until it’s cool.
4. Peel and chop up the onions finely. This is a good time to whip out the food processor (like I did!).
5. Similarly peel and chop up the ginger finely.. almost paste like. Again – the food processor is your best friend.
6. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onions and stir periodically until transparent; about 3 – 5 minutes.
7. Chop up the tomatoes.
8. Add the ginger to the onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes.
9. While the onions and ginger cook, grind all the spices that you dry roasted in step 3. I used my trusty magic bullet for this.
10. Add the tomatoes to the onion mixture and cook few minutes.
11. Add the ground spices, tamarind paste and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir for a couple of minutes.
12. Stir in the chickpeas. Add some of the stored water – I add about enough to just be slightly under the bean level. This really is based on preference and often I add more water later if I feel I want to have more gravy. Cover and let the chickpeas simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.
13. Add the garam masala and the amchur powder. You can vary up the amount you use of these two spices. Remember garam masala will add a bit of spice and amchur powder a bit of sour. I tend to let the whole mixture simmer until I’m ready to eat (which could be hours away). This helps the spices really soak into the beans. Okay – now go eat it super HOT and topped with raw onions if you’re eating with friends! I love having this with rice. Another popular item is to eat it with a bread called bhatura.. but I’m really not the bhatura sort since I’m gluten free.