Punjabi Cholay [Vegan Chickpeas]

Punjabi Cholay - Vegan Chickpeas

Holy Moly it has been so long since I’ve posted on my beloved blog. The past couple of months have been an absolute roller coaster for me. My health hasn’t been the best, my stress levels have only been worse, and I was turning into someone I just wasn’t. I became caught up in work and my personal life that I forgot to do the two things I love the most- cook & write! 

So here I am, back at it again — sharing more recipes and memories, but this time with a twist. My recipes are now VEGAN!!

As of a week ago, my husband and I have made the switch to veganism. We watched two particular documentaries on Netflix called What the Health and Vegucated – and it really opened up our eyes.

To eat healthier, I had to make sure we are getting enough of our proteins, nutrients, and vitamins. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and are an incredibly versatile ingredient. They can be used in pasta, salads, hummus, and of course my favorite – Indian dishes.

Punjabi Cholay - Vegan Chickpeas

Punjabi Cholay is one of the more popular dishes in my family. My mom would make it with her famous bhaturas or pooris with a side of halwa and it would be the most amazing day ever. Do you ever enjoy eating something so much that you don’t want to eat anything else afterward, just to savor the taste? Yeahhhh, that’s how I felt after eating.. well, anything my mom would make really.

This recipe can be a tad bit tricky in the beginning, but after a couple of times, it’s actually pretty easy to make.

5 handfuls Dry Chickpeas (I always buy mine from the Indian grocery store)
2 black tea bags- I use Taj
salt to taste

For the dry spice mixture:
2-3 black cardamom (elaichi)
2 1in cinnamon sticks
2-3 small bay leaves
4-5 cloves (laung)
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 dry red chilies
1/4 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
1 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp anardhana masala (dry pomegranate)

For the gravy: 
1 medium-sized red onion- finely chopped
2 small Roma tomatoes- finely chopped
2 jalapenos- finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tsp red chili powder (adjust according to spice level)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp Punjabi cholay masala
1-1.5 tsp chana masala
1 tsp amchur powder (dry mango powder)
salt to taste


  1. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight
  2. Drain the chickpeas- in a pressure cooker, add the chickpeas, tea bags, salt, and fill it with water; about an inch above the chickpeas, do NOT fill it all the way.
  3. The chickpeas will be cooked after about 14-15 whistles, it will be soft and easy to smash. If you have to bite down on it then it is not fully cooked.
  4. Drain the chickpeas and take out the tea bags, but make sure you save the water.
  5. Meanwhile, in a pan add all the ingredients for the dry spice mixture (WITHOUT oil)- roast them on low heat.
  6. Stir often and roast the spices, but be careful not to burn them – you want them to be extra browned not burnt.
  7. When the dry mixes are completely roasted, grind them up in a coffee grinder. Make sure you grind it completely, no small pieces should be seen- set aside
  8. For the gravy, start with adding 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Add in the ginger and garlic paste, saute for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add in the chopped onions and saute – once translucent, add in the tomatoes and cook until they soften.
  10. Add in the chopped jalapenos and cook for an additional 2 minutes – add in the ground up spice mixture along with the turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, and punjabi cholay masala- cook for 1-2 minutes.
  11. Add the cooked chickpeas to the pan and add 1-1.5 cups of the saved water – stir the chickpeas and cover on medium-low heat.
  12. Once the gravy is starting to thicken, add the chana masala. It will look like it’s turning light but don’t be alarmed. Keep stirring the cholay (chickpeas) until the dark color comes back.
  13. Cover and cook until the gravy has completely thickened.
  14. Garnish with cilantro and serve with onions on the side. Enjoy 🙂

Punjabi Cholay - Vegan Chickpeas

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