If you visit Delhi and do not manage to grab hold of Pindi Chhole with Bhature or Kulcha is like visiting Mumbai and not having Vada Pav or Pav Bhaji there.
Chhole Bhature is the most popular street food and is also easily available in most of the well known restaurants and of course the dhabas on the outskirts of Delhi.
A dry curry of Chhole (chickpeas) seemingly originated in Rawalpindi, Punjab gets its name from the origin of the place, so they say. Hence called Pindi Chhole is generally served with the Bhatura (Fried large fermented maida bread) or Kulcha (Baked Maida bread).
Chhole curry is made in quite a few different ways. It can be made in the regular onion & tomato gravy and garam masala which goes extremely well with steamed rice or also can be had with pooris (fried whole wheat bread). This is a brown curry and is mostly sprinkled with raw rings of onions. This is the more common version which is eaten in the daily house meals. Healthy and tasty.
The other one is the pindi style curry which is more or less dry. There are no onions or tomatoes used apart from some good dry roasted masalas. Apart from the rest there is roasted & crushed pomegranate seeds used for giving the tangy flavour to it.
The pindi chhole curry is black in colour. For the modern & the quick ones what is done is that the chickpeas are boiled with a tea bag so they become dark in colour. But, classically this was achieved through the masalas. After boiling a part of the chhole are mashed and they become the gravy for the curry. Most common style of serving this curry is with fried green chillies on top, lots of pickle and bhature. Yes this is a dry combination. Another variant of this is to add fried potato wedges in the chhole or pickled cucumber / raddish.
Bhature is the most common accompaniment with pindi chhole. It is a bread made exclusively from a well rested Maida & yoghurt dough, which is fermented for a few hours to maybe overnight.The dough has to rise and swell for the Bhatura to be perfect. The fermentation helps in puffing up the bread while frying. Quick way, of course, is to knead the dough with bottled soda water. This gives almost the same texture and bite as the fermented one and i use the word almost.
This is also served with Kulcha which is nowadays available in plain and stuffed versions like stuffed with potatoes or paneer etc. The difference here is that kulcha is made in a tandoor.
By far, Chhole Bhature is my comfort food. The many times i get to prepare it and eat it at different places, there is enjoyment, fulfillment and content. I allow nobody to come between me and my chhole bhature…..