Chole is that inseparable companion of bhatura, and these two are a match made in heaven. Chole is at the same time tangy, mildly sweet as well as bitter. The combination of the ingredients is so perfect that you will definitely ask for more.

For the tanginess, tomatoes are added. The sweetness comes from a bit of jaggery, whereas the bitter taste comes from the tea extract that is added.

I was taught, that the tea extract is mainly for bringing about that mild bitter taste. But lots of recipes that I have come across on the net, use tea leaves to bring about the brown color in chole.

I keep wondering, why not the black chana? It will automatically give that brown hue. Anyways, that is just my viewpoint, and I am no authority to comment on a famous Indian preparation.

So, here I am simply following my cookery class recipe, which adds a bit of tea extract in the end, just for that mild bitterness. But if you are looking for that brown color, you can definitely go ahead and cook the Kabuli chana/garbanzo beans with the tea leaves, tied up in a muslin cloth.

And I have this unconventional way of thickening up any lentil gravy, by mashing up a part of the cooked beans. I have done that here also, and believe me you will not regret it.

The chole was simply out of the world, that I had cupfuls of it just like that. The preparation is very simple, and most of the time will be required in sauteing the gravy to au sec, that is to a point of almost dry.

Try it my way and you will be hooked onto it for life.

Over to the recipe…

A chickpea gravy simmered in tomato sauce and spices
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Soaking time4 hours
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
Author: Hema Magesh

For Channa (Chick peas/Garbanzo beans)

  • 1/2 cup Kabuli Channa/Chick peas (100 g)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • a pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • few drops oil

For the masala

  • 2 small sized big onions (87g) (or 1 big onion)
  • 2 big tomatoes (290g)
  • 3 cloves garlic (8g)
  • 1" piece ginger (5g)
  • 1 pea sized tamarind (1g)
  • 1 small piece cinnamon
  • 1 cardamom
  • 2 cloves

Rest of the ingredients

  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 1-2 tsps jaggery/sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt(or as needed)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp tea leaves/powder
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • butter as needed
  • corriander leaves as needed
  • water as needed
  • Wash and soak the Channa in a good amount of water overnight. Next day drain, rinse and pressure cook with 2 cups of water and other ingredients mentioned under "For Channa".
    Chole preparation steps 1&2
  • In a mixer grind the chopped onion, garlic & ginger along with the whole garam masala (cinnamon, cardamom and cloves).
  • Transfer to a container and in the same mixer grind the tomatoes and tamarind. Strain to remove seeds and skin.
  • In a pan, heat up 2 tbsp of oil. Add the onion paste and saute for a few minutes till the raw smell disappears and it starts oozing out oil.
  • Now add the tomato mixture, salt, chilly powder, jaggery and turmeric. Keep sauteeing till the oil separates. 
    Chole preparation steps 7&8
  • Add the cooked channa with the water in which it was cooked and garam masala. 
  • Brew the tea leaves/powder in 1/4 cup of hot water for a few minutes. Add this also to the channa.
  • Take about 3 ladlefuls of channa & mash it well. Add a cup of water and strain it bak into the cooking pot. 
    Chole preparation steps 11&12
  • Adjust spices and cook till you get the required consistency. Garnish with a big blob of butter and coriander leaves.
    Chole preparation steps 13&14
  •  Serve with Bhatura
    Chole bhature

Hema’s P.S

  • The volume (gram ) measurements are indicative of the exact amount I had used. A little bit more or less will not affect the recipe.
  • I have followed mom in adding hing and oil to the chana while cooking. Hing will not create gas-related issues that some people tend to be affected with on consuming lentils.
  • Oil is added to help the lentils cook. Usually, we add castor oil, though any oil can be added. 
  • I pressure cook for 3 whistles and then on sim for 5 minutes. This cooks the chana perfectly. You can cook it in an open pan if you do not have a pressure cooker.
  • The channa had swelled to  twice its volume on soaking. It had increased from 100g to 200g.
  • Add as much jaggery or sugar to balance the tanginess.
  • Brew the tea leaves in hot water for 3-5 minutes. If using powder 2-3 minutes should be enough. Brewing longer will make it bitter.
  • Adding butter is also a matter of personal preference. I have added 1 tbsp, but you can add as much as you want.
  • I normally tend to avoid adding butter while sauteing as it gets burnt easily. You can replace the oil with butter too if you prefer.  


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Look up my bhatura recipe to pair with this.

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