Healthy Chole Bhature

In my last month in Bengaluru, I had gotten quite lethargic. Technology and my unwillingness to cook aided my stomach’s quest to land more and more takeouts every other day. I felt bloated, unhealthy and tired. Yet, the home deliveries went on.

I changed all that in the last month of 2017. The week in Darjeeling gave me a new perspective on the road ahead. Coming back home always was a motivation to get healthy as well.

My mother had cut sugar from her diet and I followed suit, eliminating grains, processed food and fatty oils as well. All these changes and regular exercise led me to shed nearly 7 kilos in 45 days. I feel fitter, slide into my jeans comfortably and I’m brimming with energy all the time.

Which was why this version of an indulgent North Indian dish was a delight to make!

My version of chole bhature has no deep-frying, no flour, is gluten-free and vegan as well!DSC_0084 (2)-01

Prep time: overnight for the chickpeas; 5 mins for the flatbreads

Cooking time: 20-25 mins for the chickpeas; 10 mins for the flatbreads

Ingredients for the chole:

  • 250 grams chickpeas, soaked in water overnight (I used the locally available Bengal gram which has lesser calories and more fibre than its prominent cousin, the Kabuli channa)
  • 3 cups or 750 ml water
  • A half-inch stick of cinnamon
  • A star anise
  • Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 green chillies, slit in the centre
  • A teaspoon of cumin powder
  • A teaspoon of coriander powder
  • Half a teaspoon of freshly pounded or packet garam masala
  • Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Half a teaspoon of sabzi masala (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Ingredients for the oats flatbreads: [Makes 3-4]

  • A non-stick frying pan, preferably one with a ceramic coating
  • 1 cup rolled oats, ground to a flour-like powder
  • 1 cup milk at room temperature
  • A fourth of a cup of water (a little extra if needed)
  • A pinch of cumin powder
  • A pinch of mango powder or amchur
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • A little coconut oil for frying
  • Salt to taste (Remember to make one flatbread first and taste-check)

Method for the chickpea curry:

Drain the chickpeas from the water they were soaking in overnight and add them to a pressure cooker with the three cups of water, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, star anise and about a teaspoon of salt.

Cook on high heat till the first whistle, then reduce the heat and cook for till another two whistles. Let the cooker cool a bit and check if the chickpeas have softened.

They should be tender enough to mash easily with the back of a fork. If not, cook for 1-2 whistles more.

In a deep non-stick frying pan, toast the dry powders on high heat for a minute. Once they release their aromas, remove from heat and add the chopped garlic, onions and chillies. Fry them on low heat till the onions turn slightly brown. Cover with a lid to cook better, stirring once a while.

Then, add the cooked chickpeas along with the water from the pressure cooker. Let it come to boil before adding the spices. Cook for another 3-4 minutes till the water reduces slightly.

Lower the heat and using a masher or a fork, mash the chickpeas roughly. This will thicken the curry and make it more palatable. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, taste-check for seasoning and remove from heat once done.

Method for the oats flatbreads:

Using a grinder, powder the oats to a flour-like consistency. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the milk, spice powders, thyme and salt to the oats and mix well. The batter should be quite loose, not as thick as a dosa-mix. Add the water to reach the desired consistency.

Do not worry if you think you added a bit more water than required. The oats absorb the liquid quite rapidly, so it’s necessary to keep the batter wobbly.

Heat the ceramic pan on high and then remove from the stove top. Add just a little coconut oil and spread it throughout the pan with a piece of cotton or paper-napkin.

Place about a fourth of a cup of the oats batter and swirl the pan to distribute it evenly to get the desired round shape.

Cook on high heat for about 2 minutes, till the sides crisp up and the flatbread starts to detach itself from the pan. Using a spatula, check if the flatbread easily comes off the pan. If not, cook for another 30 seconds.

Carefully flip the flatbread to its other side and cook for another 2 minutes on high heat. If you want it crunchier, keep cooking for another minute or so.

Repeat the process till you’ve utilized all the batter.

Garnish the chickpea curry with the chopped coriander and serve with the flatbreads with a side of sweet mango pickle and vinegar-soaked onions.

Happy cooking!

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