Spicy Indian dishes are a real treat to me. It’s food I crave, but don’t always make for myself. I don’t even seek out too many Indian restaurants (although I would love to). Instead, I learned most of what I know about Indian food from friends- in their kitchens, snooping around pots of curry, pans of biryani and asking a lot of questions about what goes into every dish, what the spices are called in English and Urdu, and where I can find all of that interesting stuff that is still considered quite exotic to most of us who didn’t grow up on the cuisine.
One of my favorite dishes has to be cholay (pronounced “cho-lay”). I’ve had it so many times, especially during Ramadan for Iftar (meal that breaks the fast).
This recipe is my version, to my family’s taste. Of course the addition of more spice and more heat is always welcome to those who desire it. It’s also available in my cookbook, Summer Ramadan Cooking, which can be purchased here.
Cholay is a dish that will almost always be present on the Iftar tables of South Asian Muslims during Ramadan. It’s flavorful and filling and often serves as the precursor to the main dish at Iftar, or the meal that breaks the fast. Substitute garam masala for the dried spices in the ingredient list.
2 tablespoons olive or grape seed oil
3/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1-2 cups tomatoes, roughly chopped and drained of any water or juices
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem removed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more for added heat)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Freshly chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a medium-size, deep bottom sauce pan.
Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add tomatoes and garlic. Dice the jalapeño then add the dried spices.
Cook down for 1-2 minutes then add the chickpeas. Taste for spice and adjust, if necessary.
Reduce heat to low-medium and cook, uncovered for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top just before serving.