Recipe: Cholas (not the cat)

While not exactly fast food, here is an easy recipe. The longest part of the process is browning the onions. In a pinch, they could be browned less, but the end result isn’t nearly as good.

Also pictured are some smothered greens. This is pretty fast:

1. Fry a good pinch of cumin seeds in a healthy amount (3 tb) of melted butter for about 30 seconds.
2. Add greens (kale, spinach, but not mustard greens!), and saute until just wilted.
3. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed toasted coriander seeds.
4. Serve immediately.

For the chickpeas:

1.Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with veggie oil. Heat the oil until very hot, add a palmful of cumin seeds and fry for about 30 seconds.
2. Add 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced.

3. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring frequently (every 5-10 minutes at first, and then constantly towards the end). Cook until desired level of brown-ness. Try to go for at least 45 minutes to an hour. The longer the onions are cooked, the more flavorful will be the sauce.

4. When the onions are ready, add in ground spices. I added 2 heaping ts of homemade chana masala (with pomegranate). You can use any chana masala, or try a combo of cumin/coriander/garam masala/cayenne (listed from largest quantity to least).

5. Add tomatoes. I usually use 1 can diced, but you could use fresh diced, or canned whole (and then cut up). Don’t use puree or crushed. Turn up the heat, and cook the tomatoes until softened, breaking them up with the spoon as you go; about 10 minutes. The onions should practically dissolve if they’ve been adequately browned. The goal should be a rich sauce, with a few tomato chunks still visible.

6. Stir in chickpeas. Two cans (drained and rinsed) or about 1/2 lb dried (soaked overnight and already cooked ’til soft). Cover and cook on low for at least 10 minutes. The dish can sit either on or off heat until you’re ready to eat; just turn the burner back on to reheat if you turned it off. If using dried chickpeas, cook for longer so that they soften more.

7. Add a handful of chopped fresh coriander (optional) and taste for salt. How much salt you add will depend on which tomatoes and chickpeas you used, but it usually needs a least a little. Serve with yogurt, breads (pita, naan, whatever), and/or chutney.



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4 responses to “Recipe: Cholas (not the cat)

  1. Jeremy

    I used to make a rudimentary version of this chick pea dish, but I never browned the onions for nearly long enough and didn’t add the variety of spices. Now I want to take another crack at it!

  2. Inge

    Was Chola named after this dish or vice-versa?

    • Chola’s named after the dish. We were considering naming her Pois Chiche (chickpea in French), but Chola is so much cuter.

      We didn’t anticipate the complication of naming your cat after one of your favorite dinners… luckily there have been no unfortunate incidents.

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