Kalyani’s Chole

We are thrilled to have this recipe from Kalyani to share with our readers. Like many recipes, this exceptional chole/chickpea dish, came to Kalyani via her cousin Vinita, who adapted her mother-in-law’s recipe. These are not the chole you will find in Indian restaurants. For one thing, there are no tomatoes which are ubiquitous in most chole recipes. This recipe is based on the style of cooking found in Uttar Pradesh. Having had these at a lunch at Kalyani’s, we could not wait to get the recipe!

Do not be turned off by the long list of ingredients, the list of spices. It is these spices, roasted slowly in oil, layer upon layer, that give this dish an astounding depth and complexity without making it overly spicy. To cut back on the oil, we tried cooking with 4 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pot and it was fine for us. It is generally possible to reduce the quantity of oil in a recipe by using a non-stick cooking surface.


  • 1 cup dry chickpeas soaked overnight in 3 cups of warm water OR 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed in cold water and drained
  • 1 extra large onion, cut into rough ½ inch chunks (2 to 2 ½ cups)
  • 7 tablespoons oil
  • 3 green chilies (the long ones) or long hot peppers (these peppers should not be too hot), or to taste
  • 8 sprigs of fresh coriander with tender stems
  • ¾ inch fresh ginger root, grated (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • garam masala (grind the following into garam masala powder: a two-inch piece of cinnamon broken in smaller pieces, 6 cloves, 6 black pepper corns, 1 teaspoon black cumin/shahjira)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 cups of water


  1. Rinse the soaked chickpeas and pressure cook (5-6 whistles) in 2 cups of water till they are soft. If using canned chick peas, drain and rinse with cold water. You can start sautéing the spices while the chickpeas are cooking to save some time.
  2. Grind the onion chunks into paste in a blender without using any water.
  3. In a heavy bottomed 3 quart pot, heat the oil and add the onion paste. Saute on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or till the onions turn golden brown and the oil separates. Stir frequently to avoid burning and ensure even cooking. This step is essential to building the flavor, the foundation to this recipe.
  4. In the meantime, grind the chilies and coriander into paste in the blender or grinder (if necessary, add the barest amount of water needed to grind), and grate the ginger and garlic.
  5. Add the chili-coriander paste to the sauted onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. If water was added to make the paste, another extra minute may be necessary to evaporate the water.
  6. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté on medium-low heat for another minute.
  7. Add the bay leaf, garam masala powder, and all the other dry spices. Continue to sauté and build this next layer of flavor for another 2-3 minutes till the spices are fragrant. Keep the heat medium-low to extract flavor without burning.
  8. Now add the cooked chickpeas and the water in which they were cooked, if pressure-cooked. For canned chickpeas, add a cup of water or enough water for desired consistency—some like more sauce, some less.
  9. Add the salt and tamarind paste.
  10. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, with the lid on now, for 10 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Enjoy hot or warm with any Indian bread, pita, rice, or quinoa, or just enjoy a bowl by itself! These chole can be made a couple of days ahead and kept in the fridge. The flavors just improve. So it is a great make-ahead dish and extras can be packed for lunch.

Serves 4. Preparation and cooking time: 40 minutes (60 minutes plus overnight soaking if using dry chickpeas).

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