Amritsari Chole


Tangy, savory, spicy, and a lot of yum yum for your tum tum. Amritsari chole are perfect for your next brunch.

I say this often, “Tell me you’re not Punjabi without telling me you’re not Punjabi”. And the easiest way to do that is to call chole either Punjabi chole or chana masala. Both of those are wrong! It’s simply chole or Amritsari chole – and that’s because there are two varieties and NO MORE! That’s right Susan – NO MORE! Nothing is more irritating than bastardized dishes or soupy concoctions with a few sadly floating garbanzo beans in it.

The perfect chole – regular or Amritsari – are somewhere in between a thick gravy and a chili. They should have perfectly layered flavors or onion, ginger, cumin, coriander, etc. The texture of the curry should be smooth, the chole soft, and it should never never be a mushy pile of poo. No poo! I feel like we’re somewhere in between a rant and an homage here, but I’m not sure which. I suppose we’re both going to find out together (because clearly none of these write ups have an intended purpose or plan).

Or we could take a completely different course of action and tell a story. I’ve always said it would be best to never write a book because the tales are too outlandish and it only takes one person to say, “Well that’s clearly Priya..” So I stick to the mildly appropriate stories. With that, how about the time I thought the car ride from Amritsar to Jalandhar was just too long. So to begin: the journey from Amritsar to Jalandhar was just too long…I do amuse myself with my stupidity. As I was saying, when you’re a human that’s easily bored and easily amused you find ways to keep yourself entertained – and this was the height of my buffalo bogarting phase. I insisted that the driver pull over so that I could convince the random farmer walking his tiny herd of buffalos that he should lend me one. After a certain amount of back and forth, the driver pulled over (rolled his eyes heavily and laughed a bit), I got out and did my best to convince this poor man that I wasn’t stealing the buffalo and that it was entirely reasonable to exit one’s air conditioned vehicle and ride a buffalo during the height of summer. Clearly, there was no language barrier, just a common sense barrier. He was convinced that I was deranged and that no sane person would do such a thing. I think he was just afraid to expose his buffalo to a unstable person. The back and forth was going no where, which means you fall back to the only thing you can, “If I give you money, can I ride your buffalo for the next hour or three?”. I handed him a five thousand rupees and I was off to the races…well the slow walk of a frightened buffalo down the highway. It was pleasant, I picked up a sugar cane for the ride….picked up some desi (which tastes like cat piss and turpentine..with a smack of orange…at least the good stuff does..)..and did this for a couple hours. Which did make getting home hours and hours later, filthy, and a wee bit tipsy, entertaining to explain. To which all explanations were the same, “It would have been rude to say no.” Which is a delightful segue into the time a stranger in a parking lot asked me to walk over to his open trunk at 3 am. But let’s save that joy for next time.

Till then – follow the recipe, don’t get cray on what steps to follow or skip. This recipe is more annoying than regular chole, so you will need to pay a bit more attention. Regardless of it all, it will be delicious, so eat, drink, and make merry.

Need More Authentic Punjabi Recipes? Try these:

Amritsari Chole

Course: MainCuisine: PunjabiDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




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  • 2 lbs canned garbanzo beans

  • 3 tbsp black tea

  • 5 cups water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2 black cardamom pods

  • 3 cloves

  • 3 green cardamom pods

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds, powdered

  • 2 tbsp garam masala

  • 2 tsp anardana, roasted

  • 1 tbsp cumin, roasted

  • 1/8 tsp hing

  • 2 tsp amchur

  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek

  • 3 tbsp canola oil

  • 2 onions, pureed

  • 4 tbsp ginger, minced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 green chili, minced

  • 3 tomatoes, pureed

  • Tadka:
  • 3 tbsp oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

  • 2-3 green chilies, sliced

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp roasted cumin

Equipment/Specialty Items


  • Chole:
  • In a large bowl, soak garbanzo beans with tea leaves overnight. If you don’t have time for this step you can just skip to step 2 and boil for 30 minutes instead.
  • Boil garbanzo beans (with 5 cups of the tea water) with tea from the tea water, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom pods, cloves, 3 green cardamom pods, and 1 tbsp salt for 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl mix salt, chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, anardana, cumin, hing, amchur, and dried fenugreek. Set aside
  • Once boiled, strain garbanzo beans, discard whole spices and tea, reserve water – do NOT discard the water.
  • In a large sauté pan or pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add in onions and cook and sauté till golden brown, stirring to avoid sticking or burning. Approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in ginger and garlic, sauté till fragrant. Approximately 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in tomatoes and sauté till the oil begins to separate and the onion mixture and tomatoes are homogenous. Approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in the spice blend that you made earlier. Mix in well and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add in boiled garbanzo beans. Mix well. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add in reserved water (you should have 2-3 cups of water). Mix, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • With a masher or a spatula mash a bit of the garbanzo beans to thicken the gravy. (I mash approximately 15-20% of the garbanzo beans). Stir well, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • You should see the oil start to separate, if not cook for 3 more minutes. The gravy should be homogenous, thick, and the oil should start to layer on the top and sides of your dish.
  • Turn off heat and set aside or place in serving bowl.
  • Tadka:
  • In a small sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add in garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Stir in green chilies, sauté for 1 minute.
  • Stir in chili powder and roasted cumin, sauté for 1 minute. Stir consistently to avoid burning.
  • Pour over chole and serve immediately with puri or bhaturay.

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