Street food with their varied cuisine are an inherent part of the Indian food scene. A wonderful variety of street food is available at almost every market corner but often the apprehension of their quality and hygiene stops one from trying them out. I personally follow a policy that if a vendor has a consistently large crowd gathered around him, his food will be tasty and fresh as it will have a consistently high turnover.
Soulfood Palette, in this edition, shares one such popular street delight - Chhole Bhatura (Chickpea Curry with Indian Fried Bread), a staple breakfast in Punjab that is often seen as a quick but complete meal. For me it’s the weekend brunch delight, when the spicy tangy chhole (chickpea) curry is mopped up by fluffy, soft yet crisp bhatura. It’s vibrant and punchy with the different textures and flavours singing out of a plate.
This recipe has a number of spices being used but please don’t be intimidated by that. These spices are easily available at any Indian grocery store. It is worthwhile to invest in them as you explore the once forbidding but adventurous world of Indian cuisine.
CHHOLE (CHICKPEA CURRY)
• Chickpeas(Chhole) – 200gm
• Tea leaves – 1tbsp
• Cinnamon stick – 1
• Cloves – 4/5
• Black Cardamom – 1
• Green Cardamom – 5
• Bay leave – 1
• Cooking oil – 3tbsp + 2tbsp
• Onions(finely chopped) – 2
• Ginger(finely chopped) -1tbsp
• Garlic (finely chopped) – 1tsp
• Slit Green Chillies – 2
• Dried Fenugreek leaves(dry roasted and crushed) – 2tsp
• Turmeric powder(Haldi) – ½tsp
• Red chilli powder – 1tsp
• Coriander powder(Dhaniya) – 1 ½tsp
• Cumin powder(Jeera) – 1tsp
• Dried Mango powder(Amchoor) – 1tsp
• Tamarind water – 1 tbsp (take a small piece of tamarind pulp soak it in water. Use that water).
• Ajwain – 2tsp
• Garam masala powder – 1tsp
• Salt – to taste
• Rock salt – a pinch
• Potato(cut into small cubes) – 1
BHATURA (INDIAN FRIED BREAD)
• All purpose flour(maida)- 2 ½ cups
• Yogurt – 1cup
• Baking powder – 1/2tsp
• Baking soda –a pinch
• Salt – 1tsp
• Sugar -1 1/2tsp
• Oil – 1tsp + for deep frying
• Water – for kneading
CHHOLE (CHICKPEA CURRY)
• Rinse and soak the chickpeas (chhole) in 1 ½ l of water overnight.
• Drain and rinse once again.
• In a pressure cooker add the chickpeas with enough water (should cover the chickpeas by at least 2 inches) along with 1tsp of salt.
• Also add in this a ‘bundle of aromatic herbs’ ( tea, cloves ,cardamom-green and black, cinnamon stick, bay leaves). All tied up in a muslin cloth. These herbs will give the dish a rich aromatic spicy fragrance and a beautiful deep colour.
• Cook the chickpeas on high flame for 10minutes and then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 25 minutes.
• Once you open the pressure cooker, check by pressing a chickpea, if it is not soft pressure cook it again for 5 minutes.
• Discard the bundle of herbs. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the residual water.
• In a deep non-stick pan or wok, heat 3tbsp of oil, sauté the onions till light golden brown.
• Add the ajwain, ginger, garlic and chillies and sauté for about 2 minutes.
• Now add the dried fenugreek leaves, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, red chilli powder and dried mango powder. Sauté for a few minutes.
• Pour in the chickpeas and add salt to taste. Mix well so that the tempering blends with the chickpeas.
• Add some of the reserved water to bring it to a curry consistence. By now some of the chickpeas would have softened to a mashed up stage giving the curry a thickness.
• In another non-stick pan , heat 2tbsp of oil, fry the potato cubes with a pinch of salt and turmeric till soft and golden brown.
• Serve the lip smacking Chole hot, garnished with fried potato cubes, coriander leaves and ginger juliennes . Perfect along with some freshly fried, fluffy Bhaturas.
BHATURA (INDIAN FRIED BREAD)
• Sieve the flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a deep bowl.
• Add yogurt, salt and sugar and mix well. Add a little water.
• Knead the dough continuously for some time. The dough should be smooth and soft (spend time to knead the dough really well as this will activate the gluten in the flour).
• Brush the oil on the dough. Cover with a damp muslin cloth and keep aside for an hour.
• Knead the dough once again. Divide the dough into equal lemon size balls.
• Grease your palm with a little oil and flatten each portion of dough.
• Roll out each into a about 6inch diameter circle or oval shape.
• Heat oil in a deep pan.
• Deep fry the bhatura, one at a time on medium flame till they puff up and turn golden brown.
• Remove onto an absorbent paper and serve hot with the prepared chhole .
• Serve this with a raita or an Indian salad of raw onions, radish and carrots with a dash of salt and lime. This is a pungent salad, which isn’t for the weak hearted. It adds an amazing strong crunch which goes perfectly with the Chhole Bhatura.
• If you are feeling adventurous you could stuff the bhatura with potatoes or cottage cheese.
• Tishita Chopra is a home cook who runs Soulfood Palette-food with a twist. Simple wholesome food, that warms me up on a cold winter day and cools me down on a hot summer afternoon. It’s freshly made-to-order food, with varieties ranging from the steamed Christmas puddings to warm Burmese khow suey to quiches to creamy Bengali mustard fish. You can reach out through Facebook and view the Soulfood Palette Page or contact her on email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org