Punjabi chikar cholay is an extremely popular classic street food dish in Lahore and is known to be eaten for breakfast with pooris, naans, parathas or roti. But the dish is so hearty it makes a great meal for lunch and dinner and is the ultimate comfort food.
There are many different versions of chikar cholay, but the important things are that it is a tangy spicy curry with a mushy texture but rich in flavour. The cooked curry should look golden dark brown in colour.
Chikar cholay gets its name from the texture of the curry. Chikar in Punjabi means mud/mush and cholay means chickpeas hence the name chikar cholay because it looks like chickpeas in mud.
What you need;
2 tins of chick peas drained
1/2 cup masoor daal
1 large onion thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes
1 inch of ginger crushed
6 cloves of cloves crushed
½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (mirch)
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp dried mango powder (amchoor)
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
½ cup Greek yoghurt
Finely chopped fresh coriander
Finely chopped fresh green chillies
Chaat masala for garnishing
Channa Masala Spice mix;
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
3 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
1 small stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole black pepper
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp ginger powder
Add all the above ingredients to a spice blender and blend to a coarse powder.
What you need to do;
1. Firstly, you need to boil the masoor daal. Add 1 cup of water to a saucepan along with the masoor daal. Bring it to a boil and cook until soft and mushy. Cover and simmer until all the water has dried.
2. In a separate cooking pot, add some cooking oil and fry the thinly sliced onions until a light golden brown in colour.
3. Next add the tomatoes with the core removed. Fry for a minute or so and then add approx 100ml of boiling water and cover and cook on a medium heat until the tomatoes have softened and the tomato skin peels away.
4. Remove the lid and add peel away the tomato skin and throw away. Mash the tomatoes and fry for a few mins until the onion and tomatoes are soft and mushy.
5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a few mins.
6. Now add all the channa spice mix that you grinded and the chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder, fenugreek leaves and dried mango powder to the pot. Mix well and fry for 5-6 mins until the masala turns into a rich dark brown gravy. You may need to add splashes of hot water to stop the masala from sticking and to help loosen the mixture.
7. Now add the greek yoghurt, mix well and fry on a high heat until the yoghurt is no longer visible and the masala returns to the rich dark brown colour. Approx 4-5 mins.
8. Next add the boiled masoor daal which should be mushy and the drained chick peas. Mix well with the masala.
9. Using a masher mash half of the chick peas whilst leaving the other half whole.
10. Add the bicarbonate of soda and on a medium to high heat cook the chick peas for 2-3 mins. The bicarbonate of soda will make the curry fizz, this is normal.
11. Add ½ cup of boiling water, turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 mins.
12. Garnish with coriander, green chillies, ginger juliennes and some chaat masala.
Serve with pooris, roti, paratha, naan or boiled rice.
– Salt and green chillies can be adjusted to your taste.