Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When Deutchland went ole ole ole, I went chole chole chole!

Trusting my memory, I can say that this has been the dish of my life until now. It was the first north Indian dish I got introduced to and the most relished too. There was a chat corner near Vitan. Where Rex fashions stands now, previously was a ladies garments outlet and Vitan was spread into three huge sections, the basement with groceries, a fancy store and one huge floor with toys. I just couldnt stop remembering all this. Near Vitan, stood this chat corner which was managed by a Mallu family. It was the source of Chole or Channa masala for us. I remember the countless days I have taken a pathiram (vessel) from home to take home the chole. We never liked packing the hot stuff in polythene. Invariably any amount that was bought was never sufficient and Amma and Appa had to always part from their shares to satisfy the hungry looking eyes of their two little foodies. Never without a scold though!

When Amma started making this at home, she would first serve me the boiled channa with excess of the water in which it was boiled in. It tastes divine. Maximum of 10 channas in a cup of the hot protein extract. It was the method to stop me nagging her when she was cooking and I never complained because I just love the channa water soup! And yes, I was very choosy about the type of channa used. For me, it has to be the white channa (chick peas or garbanzo) and never used to like the brown (coated) ones. 

Yet another fascinating thing about this channa masala is that it goes well with just about anything. Be it pulao or just steamed rice, naan, roti, poori, samosa, cutlets and imaginations extended. Just fill a bowl with hot chole with raw onion garnish and eat, it is still fantastic. I also feel that channa masala is one of those dishes that can be made in variety of way and every method can be as tasty as the other. What ever the method is going to be, the spices added into this can still remain a constant. My channa masala consists of the following: coriander powder, cumin powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, amchur powder, pomegranate seed powder and a slight hint of pepper.

I am now going to put forth three methods that I follow to make channa masala is different tastes. They are only mind variants, but will make quite a difference to the taste. The first one is the ever conventional way. After spluttering whole garam masala (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf), finely chopped onions (with chopped garlic and ginger) are sauted and finely chopped tomatoes are added to this. Right after the addition of tomatoes, the channa masala mix (the one mentioned in the above paragraph) is added and allowed to cook well until the tomatoes and onions become a gravy and till the oil separates. Now, the boiled channa is added into this and water is adjusted according to preferred consistency and the cooking vessel is closed for a few minutes to allows the channa to swim and get adjusted to the spicy environment. 
Variant two is to add fresh cream at this stage and then garnish. For variant three, before adding the channa into the spicy onion-tomato gravy, well beaten curd is added and to this yogurt gravy, the channa is added and allowed to simmer for a few minutes. Garnish with your imagination, coriander leaves and raw onions.
The channa masala without cream or yogurt can receive an additional garnish with fresh lemon juice.

The picture below is the usual chole. I will add pictures of other variants soon!
*written from i pod when traveling from Düsseldof to Mülheim!


  1. machi.. I remember Vitan as well.. wow! wat a days da.. kamadenu theatre.. famous aavin centre where i used to buy palkoa..vasanthi vihar.. iyengar bakery below KFJ/vasanth and co.. PR and sons.. bata shoe shop..alwar seconds book shop... oh! man! Luz is definitely the best shopping area i hav ever seen in ma life!.. but those days r definitely gone.. the scarce 80s and rare 90s.. also.. i remember this chat shop u r talking about!

  2. Oh tats choo chweet :) I mean the presentation. Looks damn pretty. OMG!!! so here is a budding competitor for me ;) I'm loving it :)

    Yummy chole masala. I love this version(the normal one). Hey you know, dad used to get it from the same place those days too and he used to buy pav-bhaji from Shanthi vihar as well :) Those two shops are very close to my school(Vidya Mandir). :)

  3. The only 'eat out' left in Luz is BHH . We really miss Vitan :(

  4. Any idea where the chat shop has shifted to? IIRC, it used to be called Sri Devi Fast Foods.

  5. Oh damn! Just realised its RPV. Funny running into your blog while searching for the chat store :P

  6. Serendipity Raghu! No idea about the chat shop!

  7. Cute decor and my very fav dish...