Chana Masala for hearty brunch

connected is easy. But connecting truly is not."

phone beeps, and even while cooking, my fingers move mindlessly to
check the notification. I'm trying to teach multiplication to my son,
and once again the phone beeps. My phone flashes lovely pics of my
schoolmate's daughter's birthday party. Before I even realize, I have
“liked” the image and written some generic message on her wall,
while my son is waiting for the next instruction. Seems like my phone
has become the most privileged one; getting the most undivided
attention at all hours of the day. However mundane and meaningless
the trigger of that beep is.

social world is expanding. At least in the virtual world. I am
connected to everyone possible. From childhood classmates, to
forgotten relatives. From neighbourhood mums to hobby groups. From
blogger buddies to my son's batch mates' mothers. Yes everyone. But I
wouldn't even know the surname of many or birthdays of most. And just
forget about knowing anything about their nature, likes or
personalities. After all we are just 'socially connected'. Yes that's
how I define these virtual relationships. Though it might be mundane,
yet a necessity. To be connected to a world outside your four walls.
Specially when you are in a foreign country, away from your loved

like in all things, balance is the keyword here. Its very easy to
fall prey to the trappings of social network, and to stop
appreciating the world around. To respond to the beeps than to notice
the expressions of the people around. To replace the real for the
virtual. And that's when you need to switch off the gadgets, and go
for a walk. Breathe the fresh air and smell the roses. And to have a
real conversation.

I am blessed to have good company in Dubai. Friends, with whom I can
chat and laugh and have coffee. Mostly with kids, when they play
endlessly. But sometimes without too, where we are not distracted by
the antics of the little ones.

month I hosted one such brunch at my place. After all this is something, which you cannot relish virtually. The menu was a mouth
watering Punjabi one – kulcha chola, hariyali paneer tikka,
mango lassi
and brownies.
Even writing that menu, is making me crave for more :) Wish I was
able to take more pics, before it all vanished.

Masala/ Amritsari Pindi Chola Recip

(A Punjabi style spicy chola/chickpea semi dry curry. Perfect with soft
kulchas, naan or even parathas)


  • 1/2 cup chola/ chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • tbsp oil
  • bay leaf
  • black cardamom
  • cloves
  • tsp cumin seeds
  • large onion, finely chopped
  • tsp ginger- garlic paste 
  • green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • medium tomatoes
  • tbsp tomato puree/paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • tsp coriander powder
  • tsp cumin powder
  • 1.5 tsp Chola Masala
  • 1/2- 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 -1 tsp of tamarind paste/ amchur powder/lemon juice
  • tsp kasturi methi (crushed)
  • tsp tea brewed in 1/2 cup water or 1-2 tea bags
For serving: Chopped onion, chopped coriander leaves, ginger strips and lemon slices


  1. Pressure cook chickpea with salt and enough water, till done. (about 4

  2. In a pan, heat oil. Add whole spices (bay leaf, black cardamom and
    cloves) to the hot oil. Let it fry then add the cumin seeds, and let
    it sizzle. Then add the chopped onion and ginger garlic paste. Saute
    well, till light brown.

  3. Then add the chopped tomatoes. And the dry spices (coriander powder,
    chola masala, cumin powder, red chilly powder and pinch of salt and
    sugar). Cook on medium high heat, till tomatoes are soft and masalas
    are cooked and oil separates.

  4. Add tomato paste and tamarind paste/amchur powder (mango powder), and
    cooked chickpea. Let the get well blended with the chola. Cook for
    5 mins. Taste and adjust salt and spices.

  5. Now add the brewed and strained tea and dried kasturi methi and over and
    cook for few mins. The color will get darker. Add more tea if you
    prefer darker color. Finish off with garam masala and squeeze of

  6. Garnish with chopped onion and coriander leaves. Serve with warm kulcha or
    bhatura or naan. Its delicious in every way. 


  • Like most Indian curries, this one too is a perfect amalgamation of all
    flavours – salty, spicy, sour and sweet. So do taste and balance
    the flavours, as per liking.

  • You can add any souring agent, tamarind is the best, though bit strong
    os we prefer amchur (mango powder). Even lemon juice does the work.

  • Dry pomegranate/ anardana adds a unique flavour to this dish. But in
    absence of that, a good variety of Chola Masala helps. Every masala
    blend will be different, so while using one, keep a check on other
    spices. I prefer to start with less and add more, as needed.

  • Tea is what gives this chola the characteristic black color. You can add
    tea bags in the pressure cokker, while cooking chola or add later
    (as I did). But if you prefer non-black curry, skip tea and add 1/2
    tsp turmeric powder.

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