Traditional Amritsar chole masala is a weekend treat! I usually make a big batch that would last at least 3 meals. We eat them with Indian breads like kulchas, bhature, and poori, with rice, and sometimes just standalone. A bowlful of delicious chickpea curry.
During my last trip home to Chandigarh, mummy and I took a day trip to Amritsar. We went to offer prayers at the kulcha. The spicy deep dark brown thick chickpea curry with butter laden kulchas! mmm…. I am transported back in time 🙂
It’s the quintessential street food of Punjab and you can find it everywhere from Amritsar to Delhi! Long time ago I had asked one of the street vendors for the secret and he told me it’s the tea bag and the pomegranate!
These are the two things that distinguish Amristari chole from regular chole masala or or other Indian chickpea curries:
As I learn more about food photography, I am slowly also trying my hand at dark food photography. I love how food pops out in dark pictures and also I wanted to learn something new. For these Amritsari chole recipe, I clicked with both a white background and a dark ground. Which one do you think looks better?
If you like this recipe, please take a moment to rate it below and/or leave your thoughts at the end. It really encourages me to keep exploring, learning and improving.
Amritsari Chole Masala
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 2 cups dried chickpeas ,soaked overnight or 6-8 hours
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil* ,divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 black tea bags ,regular black tea or use English breakfast
- 2 tsp turmeric powder ,divided
- Salt ,to taste
for the chickpea gravy
- 1 pinch asafoetida
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 green chillies ,chopped
- 3 cloves garlic ,smashed, peeled and minced
- 1 inch ginger ,chopped
- 2 medium sized red onions ,chopped
- 4 tomatoes ,puréed
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 3 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp pomegranate seeds ,soaked in ¼ cup warm water
- 2-3 stalks fresh coriander
- ½ inch ginger ,julienned
- Drain the chickpeas and discard the water.
- In a pressure cooker, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the drained chickpeas, 6 cups of water, cinnamon stick, bayleaf, tea bags, 1 tsp turmeric powder and salt. Pressure cook the chickpeas for 4-5 whistles.
- Remove from heat and open the pressure cooker only when all the steam has escaped on its own. Discard the bayleaf, cinnamon stick and tea bags.
- While the chickpeas are cooking, start making the gravy in another pan.
- Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot add asafoetida and cumin seeds.
- When the seeds start to sputter, add green chillies, ginger and garlic. Sauté for a minute, to flavour the oil.
- Add the chopped onions. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, till the onions start to turn brown. Add the puréed tomatoes, salt, sugar, all the spices and pomegranate seeds water. Mix well and cook covered for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked chickpeas along with the water they are cooked in to the gravy and simmer on low for 15 minutes till the gravy is thick.
- *For regular North Indian cooking, I use sunflower oil; you can use other vegetable cooking oils like canola, olive pomace etc. But avoid using stronger oils like coconut, mustard or sesame oil for this recipe.
- You can make your own tea bags by tying 1 tsp loose tea leaves in a muslin cloth. If you use canned chickpeas, then you won’t get the deep brown colour that comes from boiling the chickpeas with tea leaves.
- Try to use fresh homemade garam masala as it adds a nice aroma to the dish. If you don't have garam masala, you can also add some curry power or chana masala.
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