This is an old post, that almost got lost in the archives of my word documents. It was written in response to Supriya's query if I had the recipe for chole palak on the blog. The chole palak in question were the pairing for the Tibetan bread that he had made. This then, is the old write up with some new reference added in for freshness.
What kind of chole masala do you use? If it is the store bought, then what brand do you prefer? I prefer Sanjeev Kapoor’s Chole Masala. It doesn’t have too much salt and the spices smell fresh. If you make your chole masala at home by roasting and grinding spices, then please share and send it to Aqua, who is hosting this month’s B2B for me. Interested to host it, email me here.
In the past, my attempts at making authentic Punjabi chole, the kind that are immersed in thick, black gravy and the garbanzo beans so soft you could break them with the touch of your tooth, have failed miserably. Before you ask or venture, yes, I have tried Anita’s recipe and mine didn’t even come close to what hers looked like and I am pretty sure they didn’t taste like hers either. I will chalk it to my inability to follow a recipe to a T or the lack of patience with the bhunoeing of the spices.
Recently, Manisha wondered here why the chole gravy needed to be black? I have not the faintest clue. For me, it brings back memories of lunches I have had as a teenager at Pujabi friend’s homes. The chole were almost always served with white bread and I have to admit the combination was awesome. To this day, if I am eating chole by myself, I toast two pieces of thick sourdough bread to eat with it.
But I digress. A few months ago, in an attempt to finish off a bunch of spinach leaves in danger of wilting in the fridge, I added them to the boiling chole gravy. To my delight, the pinkish/ yellowish gravy started turning black and by the time the spinach was cooked through I had the chole of my dreams or at least the color I desired. Though they did not taste like the authentic version, they looked every bit as good. And since then, I make sure I have spinach on hand before I soak garbanzo beans.
A few weeks ago, with no spinach or any other green to turn my chole black, I resorted to the original tea leaves method. Lurking in an overlooked corner of the kitchen I had found a half empty box of tea bags. I popped one in the cooker with the soaked chana and eight whistles later the beans were all black and soft and ready to eat as is.
Encouraged, I followed Anita’s tip and roasted the onions and ginger garlic paste with the chole masala (store-bought) till everything was a luscious black color. Added some fresh tomato puree which did nothing to change the color of the gravy and then added the darkened chana to it. The result was exactly what I wanted and it looked and felt like what Anita would have made, I think. We had it again with the Tibetan bread and it was good to the last bite.
Here’s my Indian pairing for his Tibetan bread.
1 can garbanzo beans or 1/2 cup of dry beans soaked in plenty of water overnight
1 tea bag (black tea)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small tomato, chopped or pureed
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp chole masala/ garam masala
1/2 tsp dhana jeera powder (cumin-coriander powder)
1/2 red chili powder
1 bunch of chopped spinach (optional)
Pressure cook the garbanzo beans with the tea bag for 6-8 whistles or whatever it takes for your cooker to get them cooked through.
Heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and sauté till almost brown and fragrant.
Mix in the ginger garlic paste and the dry spices (chana masala, dhana jeera and red chili powder).
Cook on medium low heat till the raw smell of ginger garlic and the dry spices turns fragrant. Continue cooking till everything starts looking dark and mysterious.
Add the chopped/ pureed tomato and cook for another five minutes. Do not under any duress add canned tomato puree. It is way too tomatoey and will change the color of your gravy from a dark black to a muddy pink.
Mash a couple of tablespoons of chickpeas in the cooking mix and stir. Add the cooked chana and the liquid it was cooking in to the onion-tomato mix and boil on medium till the gravy turns thick, about 20 minutes more.
If using spinach, add at this point. They will turn the gravy even darker. Serve with roti, naan, bread or rice.
Manisha made Rest of the World Chhole.
The chole palak go to Simona of Briciole who is hosting Susan's MLLA #26.
Before I leave, here's a shout out to Sra, who is there for me via email when I need to bitch about another blogger trend I am not happy with. Check out her blog for some "humor" and some amazing fiction, if you are feeling down and low.
Another shout out to Jacqueline who has started The Food Blog Diary to chronicle the numerous events and giveaways happening in the blogosphere. She graciously put both my events on the blog within hours of receiving my email.