My grand mom made the best Chole in the world. It was a hand me down recipe from her mother who was according to me was an un hailed, un acclaimed legendary cook worth atleast a couple of Michelin Stars. Not only did she cook like her hands were blessed by the gods, but she also remembered amongst the dozens of grand and great grand children, who thronged at her home each summer, what each of us loved to eat. Our stomachs and souls were in heaven when at her home. Every morning, no matter how early we woke up, we would find her tinkering in the kitchen, singing bhajans to her beloved Krishna. I asked her one day if she has any recipes written down – and she looked at me like I was asking her if Krishna liked dance music. Every single recipe, and there were thousands in her repertoire, was stored in her head. And not once was there a variation in what we ate. Each and every time over the years the dishes tasted the same – tasty, heartwarming and soul stirring.
My nani, handed me this recipe of Chole, very casually over dinner one day. I scrambled up and wrote it down. Over the years, I have also perfected this recipe with trials and error. And while it still does not taste like how she or her mom made it, it stills holds good on it’s own.
I was in Mahabaleshwar, and the mood for Chole hit like a storm. Let’s be precise, the mood to eat grand mom’s Chole hit like a storm. These one pot recipes have been going viral on the internet – and let’s face it, they make so much sense. Since all the spices and dishes are cooked and simmered together, the flavours stay within the dish, and every essence and aroma gets enhanced. Also let’s not forget that it’s super easy, non messy and there are such fewer dishes to wash.
So I decided to experiment with Chole and rice in one dish. My friend Nishi and me waited with hungry eyes and hopeful hearts as it cooked. While making the initial mix and before the cover of the pressure cooker was put on, the smells that wafted from the pan were incredible. As a result we kept hanging around in the kitchen, waiting for the Chole to cook, so that we could taste it immediately.
As soon as the pressure cooker would allow us to open it, we spooned small little bites into our very eager mouths. Voila! it was perfect. Just what we wanted. It hit the right notes of spices, flavours, heat and comfort food. There was no delay in lunch that day! 😛
This has to made in a pressure cooker, as the recipe calls for uncooked but pre soaked chick peas. I also used brown rice, which takes time to cook. This balances the cooking time. Had we used the normal white rice, it would have reduced to a mush, in the time the chole cooked.
The time variations in pressure cooker change as you move from sea level to higher altitude levels. At sea level two whistles are good. Higher altitude calls from three whistles (at low flame). I made a masala kadhi with this dish. (recipe in the following blog). I used the basic recipe for kadhi, but made my own concoction along the way. Some of my friends who had the one pot chole, liked it more with plain yoghurt. If you are not a fan of a blend of too many spices, yoghurt is your answer.
Serve with green chillies and onion slices.
I hope you get a glimpse of your childhood, or some loving memory gets jogged as you make and eat this dish. I always sit back with big grins and think of my grand mom, who is somewhere up there laughing and smiling back at all of us.