There are two things I’ll never forget about Amritsar; the colours and the flavours. Staring out into the jam packed bazaar in front of the Golden Temple, I saw duppattas and turbans of every colour imaginable, and smelled the most delicious foods! That vibrant bazaar and the foodie experiences will stay with me forever.
It’s quite fitting that I was introduced to this Amritsari Chole recipe in its namesake city. I visited the famous “Original” Bharawan da Dhaba and the lovely owner took me into the kitchen and shared what goes into their secret spice blend. She was the one that taught me that the key to delicious chole is blending your own spice mix.
When I started planning my traditional thali dinner for Vaisakhi, I knew it had to include Amritsari Chole. They are the quintessential Punjabi dish – served at every restaurant in Punjab. One of the struggles I’ve had in the past with creating dishes that call for special spice blends is finding good quality, affordable spices. Recently I tried this recipe with the Sundar brand spices from Save-On-Foods and was amazed by the quality. To be perfectly honest, spices were the ingredient I was most hesitant to purchase from a mainstream grocery store, but I actually found these to be better than the ones I buy at my local desi grocer. They are incredibly fragrant, clean, taste amazing, and there is pretty much every spice you’ll ever need to create an Indian dish available. I almost never use a pre-blended garam masala, but the Sundar brand one passed my sniff and taste test. (I guess I’m kind of a garam masala snob!).
On a side note, something I realized while shopping for South Asian spices at Save-On-Foods, they actually list all the ingredients in the spices right on the pack. A lot of brands don’t do that. I love knowing exactly what’s in the spices and in what percentage. (Most of the spices from the Sundar brand are 100% spice, no fillers). They also source their spices from Indian and local suppliers for ultimate quality control.
Sometimes when I share a recipe that involves toasting and grinding whole spices, readers tell me they don’t have all the spices, tools, or time to complete the recipe. I really hope you’ll invest in spice grinder (if you don’t already have one), and try your hand at making a masala mix. If you just don’t have the time, I saw pre-blended chana masala at Save-On-Foods also. You could replace the whole spices in this recipe with 3-4 teaspoons of a chana masala blend if you’d like.
Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Drain off the soaking water, add fresh water with 2 teabags to your pot and boil the chickpeas for 30-35 minutes until soft. They will take the colour and flavour of the tea, so it’s best to stick with black tea. Set aside while preparing the masala. (Do not throw out the boiling water).
To make the masala, start by toasting your whole spices; cinnamon, dry red chili, bay leaf, coriander seed, cumin seed, fennel, cloves, black cardamom. Toast lightly on medium heat for about 90 seconds until they start to release fragrance.
Let the spices cool to the touch and then grind. This spice mix smelled amazing! Make the tadka (tempering). Start by browning the onions.Once the onions have cooked down add in the ginger garlic paste and saute lightly for 2-3 minutes. Now add in the fresh green chilies and tomato puree.Once the onion tomato mixture is cooked (4-6 minutes), add in your dried spices (pomegrante powder, turmeric, and salt), and the chana masala powder.
Be careful to keep the heat on low while adding spices so they don’t burn.Combine the cooked chole and the tempering together and simmer for 15-20 minutes until they thicken up, and then you are ready to serve!
This post is brought to you by Save-On-Foods. All opinions are my own.