Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chhole Bhature

Chhole Bhature (pronounced chho-ley bh-uht-oo-rey) is one of the most popular Punjabi dishes. The first time I had chhole bhature was when I was six years old in a shopping place, in Janakpuri, New Delhi. My brother took me out for breakfast and we had chhole bhature. I have been in love with it since. I never thought I could make this dish because I always thought it was too complicated to make bhature, but living in Utah, (where you can't get chhole bhature anywhere) I figured it was about time I brought some satisfaction to my cravings for it. So I decided to make it and I was pleasantly surprised with the results. The recipe below should serve four.


For Chhole:
4 cups of garbanzo beans (safed chhole), soaked overnight 
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large Roma tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 Serrano pepper or green chili, finely chopped
3 tbsp oil 
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
6 peppercorns
3, 1-inch stick of cinnamon
1 black cardamom
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp chana masala
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp dry mango powder (aamchur)
a pinch of asafoetida 
salt to taste

For Bhature:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 packet of dry-active yeast
1 tsp sugar 
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup of yogurt
3 tbsp oil
lukewarm water as needed


Preparing the Dough:

1. The first thing to do would be to make the dough for bhature. I would suggest making the dough six hours before cooking. Dissolve yeast and sugar in lukewarm water and let it sit for ten minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy.

2. In a large bowl, add all-purpose flour, salt and oil and mix it well.

3. Then add the yeast mixture and mix again.

4. Add yogurt and start kneading to form a smooth and soft dough. Add water if required. 

5. Now cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 5-6 hours. The longer, the better.

Chhole Bhature:

1. Boil the garbanzo beans with ginger, two tsp of salt and asafoetida with four cups of water until soft.

2. In a separate pan, heat oil and add cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, and bay leaves.

3. Once the spices begin to give off aromas, add cumin seeds. They will begin to crackle immediately. Then add the Serrano pepper and chopped onions and cook until transparent.

4. Now add chana masala, garam masala, coriander powder and dry mango powder and mix everything. Cook for about a minute, then divide the pan with onions on one side and add chopped tomatoes on the other side.

5. Cook the tomatoes until they begin to disintegrate. Keep mashing them until they begin to look like a paste. Then mix onion and tomatoes all together and cook for ten minutes. Keep stirring to make sure nothing burns.

6. Now add this mixture to the boiled garbanzo beans and bring to a boil. Add the chopped garlic after the first boil then let it simmer for half an hour until the curry becomes slightly thick. If you notice that there isn't enough water in the pot to simmer, then add some and let the water reduce as it simmers. Taste check and add salt accordingly. If you want it to be more spicy, add some paprika.

7. While the curry simmers, check the dough. It should have risen to double its size. Poke it with your fingers and it should release air and go back to its original size.

8. Now take some dough depending on how big you want your bhatura to be. I don't have a  very large frying pan so I made comparatively small bhature than what you get in restaurants. Roll them out into whatever shape you like. I made long oval shaped bhature. Remember to roll them out longer because they tend to retract. I would say rolls them to be thin like a roti.

9. Now heat some vegetable oil in a pan for frying. Test if it is hot enough by putting a tiny little piece of dough. If the piece rises back up then the oil is ready. 

10. Put your rolled out dough into the oil and it should immediately float to the top and begin rising. Hold it down from one side with a spatula and it should be puffed with air. Cook on both sides until light brown and then put them on a plate covered with tissue paper to drain out the excess oil. These taste just like the bhaturas you get in the restaurants in India. 

11. While you make these, your chhole should also be done. Chhole Bhature are eaten with onions, thinly sliced with lime juice and salt sprinkled over them. 

...And you're all set to enjoy a perfect Punjabi meal. 

The next day, I had some bhature left over so I just put them in the microwave and they were as soft as the night before. 


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