Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Choliya te Wadiyan (Fresh Green Chickpeas & Dumplings)


Most people are familiar with chole or chickpeas (or garbanzos as they also often called) and realize that they come as the large, light cream colored and small dark brown varieties. Most people know about the larger ones and that these are often cooked in soups and stews and also to make the popular Arabic side dish “hummus”. South Asians know chole as a savory curry or snack which is eaten with roti or puris all over the Indian subcontinent.

But few people are aware of the fresh version of chole known as choliya – a green chickpea that does not require cooking and can be eaten raw. Their taste is sweeter than a chickpea but less mushy than a green pea and they have a fresh sweet aroma. When we built our house in Rajouri Garden in New Delhi, my son, my mother Biji and I would walk through field of shoulder high choliya stalks and pick them to munch on while we walked to the construction site.

Choliya are seasonal and fresh ones are usually available only for a few days in the winter, but these days you can find them in the frozen vegetable section of most Indian grocery stores. They are rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamin A and C, iron and are a good source of dietary fiber, just like regular chickpeas are, and do not contain any fat.

Punjabi wadiyan (lentil dumplings) are dry, rough, 1 to 2 inch round nuggets made of skinless manh or urad daal (black lentils) with dhania (coriander), garam masala, lal mirch (red pepper), adrak (ginger) and hing (astafoetida powder).

They should be roasted till slightly brown in a toaster oven or in a little oil in a skillet. There is an art to knowing how to prepare Punjabi wadiyan and then how to cook them so that they enhance the food but do not crumble into tiny pieces.

When choliya are cooked in a curry with Punjabi wadiyan, the taste and flavor will reach the heart of any Punjabi. The spiciness and aroma of the wadiyan permeate through the dish and add to the sweet woody flavor of the choliya with added tanginess that makes the dish irresistible. Wadiyan can be used with many types of vegetables, beans or even with rice as an ingredient which adds a burst of flavor and a slightly pungent smell.



250 gm choliya (green chickpeas) – frozen or fresh
1 Punjabi wadi (lentil dumpling)
1 medium piyaaz (onion)
1 medium clump of adrak (ginger root)
1 medium kernel of lasan (garlic)
1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil
Tomato paste to taste
4 cups of pani (water)
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), garam masala
Garnishes (to taste): dhania (coriander) – chopped leaves



1. If the choliya is frozen, take it out and let it thaw before using.
2. In a kadai, heat the oil and throw in the wadiyan and stir till they are slightly brown.
3. Prepare the masala in a medium saucepan. Chop the onions, ginger, coriander and garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, add the puree till it is slightly brown, and then add the 1 cup water and the tomato. Stir well to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the mixture is reddish brown, add the salt, pepper and haldi and stir well.
4. Throw in the choliya in the masala and stir for a few minutes till it is slightly brown.
5. Add the water and the wadiyan and bring to a boil for 10 minutes to let the wadiyan fluff up which means they are cooked on the inside.
6. For best taste, serve with rice, hot rotis or crispy paranthas.




These days there are many ready-made snacks available in bags, like masala fried peanuts, channa chor and methi matthis at every store and people are usually munching on them. When they are finished with them, there is usually a large amount of the masala residue left in the bottom of the bags.

Rather than toss this and the bag away in the garbage, you can reuse the masala to make a dish that needs spices. The snacks are loaded with salt, mirch (pepper) and loads of other spices which are often the same as those used in many dishes. The residue can be used for several dishes and can save you some money too!


mamas recipe inside3
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 (since renamed Faisalabad), 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