“Khatte Chhole” Sour Indian Chickpeas

Visually, this dish looks like a simple chickpea stew, but its lemony and gingery fragrance is assertive and intoxicating.  “Khatte Chhole” is Madhur Jaffrey’s attempt to recreate her childhood memories of the intensely-flavored chickpeas sold as street food in Indian bazaars.  As I write this, I notice that the other Indian pulse recipe I’ve shared on Two Jade Bowls so far is also lemony – Ismail Merchant’s lemon dal.  As a native Californian, I guess it’s natural that I’m drawn to lemony recipes.

I own several of Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks, but when I lived in London I discovered this slim, older paperback called Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.  This sour chickpea recipe quickly became a favorite, and I made a batch of it probably every other week while I lived in London.  Before I started Two Jade Bowls, I typed out and emailed this recipe to various friends and family.  It’s finally time to post it here and share it with a wider circle.

This recipe calls for using dried chickpeas.  Canned chickpeas simply won’t work here because their texture is too soft.  Dried chickpeas give this dish a firmer and more defined texture, and are much cheaper than the canned ones.  They’re easy to use as long as you plan ahead and let them soak overnight.

“khatte chhole” sour indian chickpeas recipe

2 1/4 cup (350 g) dried chickpeas

7 1/2 cups (1.75 litres) water

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 fresh, hot green chili

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 medium onions

2 medium tomatoes

1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Pick over, wash, and drain the chickpeas.  Soak the chickpeas in  7  1/2 cups of water for 20 hours. 

Put the chickpeas and their soaking liquid into a large pot and bring to a boil.  As they come to a boil, a white foam will emerge on the surface.  Skim off the foam with a ladle. 

Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for an hour and a half, or until chickpeas are tender.  Strain the chickpeas and save the cooking liquid. 

Finely chop the green chili.  Grate the ginger.  In a small bowl or teacup, combine the chili, ginger, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Mix well and set aside.

Finely chop the onions.  Finely chop or puree the tomatoes.  Heat the oil in a heavy, wide pot over medium-high flame.  When hot, add the chopped onions.  Stir and fry for 8-10 minutes, or until the onion bits develop reddish-brown spots.  Add the tomatoes.  Continue to stir and fry another 5-6 minutes.

Put in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric.  Stir and cook for about 30 seconds.  Now put in the drained chickpeas,  1  3/4 ( 400 ml) of their cooking liquid, 2 teaspoons of salt, the garam masala, and cayenne.  Stir to mix and bring to a simmer.  Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook very gently for 20 minutes.  Stir a few times during this period.

Add the lemon mixture to the chickpeas.  Stir again to mix.  Serve hot or lukewarm.

you may also like…

Ismail Merchant’s Lemon Dal (Nimbu Masoor Dal)
Dishoom’s Chole: Black Tea Chickpeas
Spicy Mutter Paneer

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