Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Bhature wale Chole (Chickpeas for Deep Fried Bread)

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If ever there was a Punjabi dish that took off all over India, it probably has to be chole bhature (chick peas and deep fried bread). It is a dish that is at once spicy, eaten with plenty of garnishes like raw onions, sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves, achaar (pickles) and with those long, spicy green Indian mirchen (chilli peppers). It is a favorite for a heavy breakfast, served with salty lassi (buttermilk).

There are different varieties of bhature: filled with aloo (potatoes) or paneer (Indian cottage cheese). In some parts of India, the dish is sometimes called chole poori. A non-fried variation is the kulcha, which is baked or cooked on a tava (flat skillet) using the same dough. It is easier for those who can’t eat fried foods and want less calories but still want the flavor of this tasty dish.

In Delhi, one of the most famous shops serving chole bhature is Roshan di Hatti in the busy Karol Bagh bazaar on the west side of the city, where people follow it up with a sweet kulfi falooda. In Amritsar, there is a whole bazaar near the Golden Temple devoted to serving chloe bhature in the city’s own style. Though now available all year long in shops, this dish is most popular when the weather is a bit cooler or during the rainy monsoon season.

India is the world’s largest producer of chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans by the Spanish and arvanco in Portugese. There are two common varieties: desi, grown mostly in South Asia, Ethiopia, Mexico and Iran and kabuli grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Chile. In the Middle East, chickpeas are used to make the popular hummus spread.

Chickpeas are high in protein, polyunsaturated fat, zinc, folate, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Bhaturas are made of finely milled, refined and bleached wheat maida (white flour) which is low in dietary fibre. Pastry flours available in United States may be used as a substitute for maida. Bhature are made with white flour, yogurt, oil and yeast, but I will give that recipe separately.

Once kneaded well, the dough is left to rise, and then small balls of it are either hand-rolled or flattened using a rolling pin. Then the bread pieces are deep fried until they puff up into a lightly browned, soft, fluffy bread, which is elastic and chewy.

Ingredients :
500 gm chole (chickpeas)
2 medium pyaaz (onion) – peeled and finely chopped
2 medium tamater (tomato) – soft ones are best, chopped
5 cloves of lasan (garlic) – peeled and finely chopped
1 medium sized adrak (ginger) – peeled and finely chopped
4 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon amchoor (dry green mango powder)
1 teaspoon loung (powdered cloves, see directions)
1 teaspoon garam masala
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), dhania (coriander)

1. Wash the chickpeas well and then soak them overnight in a large pot.
2. Transfer the contents to a pressure cooker and bring it to a boil, turning it off after 10 or 15 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, bring the contents to boil in the pot till the chickpeas are tender.
3. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and throw in the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir till they are brown, then add the salt, pepper and coriander. This dish does not use any turmeric.
4. Drain the water from the boiled chickpeas and keep to the side. Some people keep the water, add a little salt and drink it as a broth for its nutrients.
5.  Add the chickpeas to the masala and stir well for 10 minutes, adding the amchoor, clove powder and garam masala to bring in the authentic medium brown color and spicy tanginess. Continue to mix the ingredients well.
6.  Add some of the drained water to the pot to make a thick sauce but do not make it too watery. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it does not stick to the pot.
7. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 5 more minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add more salt, pepper and amchoor to your taste.



When you make paneer (Indian homemade cheese) out of whole milk, then the water that is left over can be collected and kept for use later. If you use low-fat or fat-free milk to make the paneer, then the water is not suitable for reuse and can be thrown away. You can also reuse this water to make paneer again without using more vinegar or lemon.

The left over water has a higher fat content and also a little sour flavor (like whey) due to the lemon juice or vinegar that is used to make the milk split and curdle it. You can use this water to make other types of food taste slightly tangier and more flavorful. The water is best used when making curried dishes, like potatoes and peas curry, or karri or use a small amount with any sabzi (sauted vegetables).


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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.