Pindi chole

Chickpea curry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

High in protein, the seeds of the legume Cicer arietinum are variously known as kabuli chana (particularly in northern India), gram, Egyptian pea and garbanzo bean β€” and to many in the West as the chickpea.

Here they star in pindi chole, a very popular main-course Punjabi dish made with chickpeas cooked in various spices. It is a fairly dry curry, but full of goodness and flavour. The dish has many preparations, and many will disagree with this version. The tea leaves add a lovely amber colour to the curry. Serve with Puri or roti.

Preparation 30 minutes + overnight soaking
COOKING about 1ΒΌ hours


  • 250 g (9 oz) dried chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon best-quality black tea leaves, such as Dilmah Brilliant Breakfast
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3–4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 5–6 green cardamom pods
  • 5–6 black cardamom pods
  • 2–3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon regular salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate powder
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
  • 2 tablespoons ajwain seeds or caraway seeds
  • 4–5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Ginger paste
  • 2–3 Indian green chillies, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind water
  • a pinch of black salt

To Garnish

  • chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • chopped green chillies
  • lemon wedges


Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water.

Next day, drain the chickpeas and rinse them well, then place in a heavy-based saucepan.

Take a small clean piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and prepare a bouquet garni with the tea leaves, cinnamon, cloves, green and black cardamom pods and bay leaves. Add the bundled spices to the chickpeas, along with the regular salt and 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water, or enough to cover the chickpeas. Bring to the boil and allow to boil, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. The water should be nearly evaporated.

Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Strain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. To the chickpeas add all the ground spices, pomegranate powder and amchur and mix gently. Set aside.

Heat the rice bran oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the ajwain seeds, garlic, ginger paste and green chilli and fry for a minute or two, until fragrant. Pour the mixture over the chickpeas and stir it in.

Return the reserved chickpea cooking liquid to the chickpeas and stir in the tamarind water, a pinch of black salt, and regular salt to taste. Cook over low heat for 5–7 minutes, or until the liquid has nearly evaporated, gently stirring a few times, taking care not to break up the chickpeas. The chickpeas should be nicely coated with spices and almost dry.

Turn into a bowl and garnish with coriander and green chillies. Serve with lemon wedges and puri or roti.