Chole Bhature

When it comes to street-food in India, the Chole Bhature is one of the most incredible, popular and tasty vegetarian dishes available all over the country. It has always been more popular in the northern and eastern parts of the country where the use of these spices, and the ingredients, are more common. The swollen flour-based crispy bread, called Bhature, is completely hollow, which makes for an exciting show when Chole Bhature is served along with a chickpea-gravy or Chole.

Despite being called Chickpea & Bread or Chole Bhature (quite literally), there are a lot of spices involved and the overall cooking process can become a tad-bit complicated for those unaccustomed to Indian cooking.

Ingredients required for Chole Bhature

There are two distinct parts to this dish and each has its own set of ingredients:

To boil the Chole

- White Chickpeas - 250 Grams
- Onions - 1
- Ginger Paste - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Garlic Paste - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Salt
- Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Water - 5 Cups

For the Chole Gravy

- Cumin Seeds - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Mustard Seeds - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Asafoetida - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Onions - 2
- Ginger Paste - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Garlic Paste - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Tomato Puree - 1 Cup
- Coriander Powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Cumin Powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Readymade Chana or Chole Masala - 2 Teaspoon
- Red Chilli Powder - 1 Teaspoon
- Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Tamarind Paste - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Sugar - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Green Cardamom Powder - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Clove Powder - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Clarified Butter - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Fresh Coriander Leaves - as Garnish
- Salt
-Mustard Oil

For the Bhature or Puffed Bread

- Flour - 3 Cups
- Semolina - 3 Tablespoon
- Baking Powder - 1 & 1/2 Teaspoon
- Salt
- Sugar - 1 Teaspoon
- Curd or Yogurt - 1 & 1/2 Cup
- Oil - 1 Tablespoon for making the dough and enough for shallow-frying

Preparing the Ingredients for cooking our Chole Bhature

As mentioned earlier, Chole Bhature has two-distinct parts and, therefore, must be prepared separately as well:

Preparing the Chole

- Soak the chickpeas in water, overnight
- Chop the onions and add to a pressure cooker, fry for a few minutes
- Then, add the ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, turmeric powder and soaked chickpeas to the cooker, along with the water, and cook on medium heat
- After the first whistle, lower the flame and allow the pressure cooker too cook for another 15-minutes
- Allow it to cool
- Grate the rest of the Onions

Preparing the Dough for the Bhature Bread

- Sift the Flour, Semolina, Salt and Baking Powder into a bowl
- Beat the curd or yogurt and pour into the bowl, folding it all the while
- Add sugar and knead the mixture to form a nice soft dough - add more curd if required
- Once the dough is ready, smear it with a tablespoon of oil and leave it in a bowl, covered with a wet-cloth, overnight or for a minimum of five-hours

The beauty of this dish is that if you get through the preparation bit, the rest of the process is quite easy. You can prepare everything well ahead of time and let it lie around in the refrigerator until it is time for you to cook.

Let's start Cooking Chole Bhature

Now, this might seem like a complicated dish but the fact is, it is nothing but a combination of a lot of simple-steps, all of which combine together to create a seemingly-complicated dish. As you go through the process, you will realise that everything is actually quite simple and straightforward.

Cooking the Chole Gravy

- Heat oil in a deep pan or wok and add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds
- When the seeds start cracking and popping, add the asafoetida
- Add the grated onions and sauté until they start changing colour
- Add the tomato puree, coriander powder, cumin powder, Chole Masala, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt to the pan/wok and continue frying
- Once all the moisture has disappeared, add about two-tablespoons of water to the pan/wok and sauté on high heat until the oil begins to separate
- Add the tamarind paste and sugar to the pan/wok and sauté for another minute or so
- Once the chickpeas has cooled down, you need to mix everything well, inside the pressure cooker, before adding it to the pan/wok
- Also add some of the water from the pressure cooker, in which the chickpeas were boiled
- Simmer for around 15-minutes, stirring occasionally, and let the chickpeas absorb the entire flavour of the spices
- Bring the gravy down to the consistency you desire before adding in the cinnamon powder, coriander powder and clove powder, along with the clarified butter, and mix well
- Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves before setting it aside for serving

Cooking the Bhature Bread

- Take the dough you had stored away in the refrigerator and knead it well to make it soft, once again
- Divide it into 9 or 10 equal parts and roll it out flat, into whatever shape you choose, using dry flour - try to keep it round for a nice puffy Bhature bread
- Heat oil for shallow-frying, in a pan/wok, and slide each rolled-out bit of dough in or lay it away from you, carefully, into the oil
- The dough will immediately puff up and come up to the surface
- Quickly turn and fry the other side
- Once the bread starts turning brown, quickly remove it from the pan/wok, shake off the excess oil and leave it on a paper-towel to soak up the excess oil
- Serve hot with the Chole gravy, raw sliced onions and spicy Indian pickles

Now, there are a lot of things that can actually go wrong with the making of the Bhature bread and the most common problem is that the dough gets punctured or misshapen, which results in an un-puffed bit of bread. Don't worry about it too much as long as the dough is fried through and cooked completely - the taste won't change although the presentation might. Other than that, the only thing you need to remember is that the Bhature bread need to be made after the Chole gravy is ready. They won't stay puffed-up forever and as they start cooling down, they will get harder, so make sure you time the cooking process perfectly.

Chole Bhature is a dish that works well in a home, on the streets or in a restaurant. It is extremely versatile, rich and a nice indulgence for most Indians. It works brilliantly in almost every season and it is the pre-made combination of bread and gravy that works really well. While you can make the Chole gravy as well as the Bhature bread separately, there is no real counter for the combination of these two recipes put together and served as Chole Bhature, a classical pairing of East Indian Cuisine.

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