“Khatte Chhole” Sour Indian Chickpeas

Visually, this dish looks like a simple chickpea stew, but its lemony and gingery fragrance is assertive and intoxicating.  This 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 keitopotato so far is also lemony — my 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 keitopotato, 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.


2  1/4 cup (350 g) chickpeas

7  1/2 cups  (1.75 litres) water

2  1/2 teaspoons salt

1 fresh, hot green chili

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

4 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 ground 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.

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