Cholay Recipe Pakistani, Exploring Lahori to Chikar

The Tale of Two Tastes: Lahori vs. Chikar Cholay

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Cholay, or chickpea curry, is a staple in Pakistan’s rich food culture, adored by many. From the bustling streets of Lahore to the quiet corners of homes, it’s a dish that has cemented its place in the hearts of millions.

Now, when we talk about cholay, two styles often pop up: the fiery Lahori style and the thick, hearty Chikar style. Let’s dive deep into the culinary journey of these two variations, which, though stemming from the same roots, offer distinct flavors to delight our taste buds.

what’s the difference?

The Lahori cholay recipe, as the name suggests, hails from the vibrant city of Lahore, known for its quintessential street food. Think of Lahore, and images of halwa puri with a side of cholay might come to mind. The Lahori version is spicy, often accompanied by green chilies and a blend of spices, giving it an authentic taste.

It’s not just a popular breakfast dish; it’s an emotion, a connection to the city’s soul. On the other hand, Chikar cholay, also known as kichad chole or Punjabi chikar cholay, boasts a mushy texture. The word “Chikar” is a Punjabi word meaning “mud,” aptly describing the thick gravy of this version.

If we look into the historical backdrop, cholay has been a part of South Asian cuisine for centuries, with many traditional recipes passed down through generations. The best way to understand the difference between Lahori and Chikar style is to delve into their individual recipes and cooking techniques.

However, one thing’s for sure: no matter the style, every cholay recipe Pakistani households cherish carries with it stories, memories, and the warmth of shared meals with family members and close friends.

The Lahori Love Affair: Unveiling the Spicy Secrets

Lahori cholay is all about that kick! The primary ingredient, chickpeas or kabuli chana, is soaked for at least 4-6 hours before being boiled to perfection. The chickpeas are then cooked in a mix of green chilies, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, and a splash of water.

This mix is simmered on low heat in a large heavy-based saucepan until the chickpeas absorb all those gorgeous flavors.

For that golden brown hue and added depth of flavor, onions are fried in a little water until translucent. This onion mixture is combined with ginger garlic paste, and the blend is cooked until aromatic.

To this, fresh tomatoes are added, and the mixture is set aside to simmer. Afterward, boiled chickpeas, coriander powder, and black pepper are introduced.

Some people also swear by adding a tbsp of hot ghee, claiming it gives the cholay recipe Pakistani authenticity.

Serving suggestions for Lahori cholay are endless. From flat bread like tandoori roti to the more indulgent puri, it pairs beautifully. If you’re aiming for an authentic Lahori breakfast, halwa puri is the way to go. However, if you’re venturing for a main course meal, then pairing it with a side of boiled potato or murgh cholay (chicken with chickpeas) elevates the dish to another level.

Chikar Cholay: The Thick and Hearty Delight

When you think of comfort food in the realm of cholay recipe Pakistani styles, Chikar cholay is a top contender. The dish gets its name from its unique consistency. Unlike the Lahori style, Chikar cholay has a thick, almost mud-like gravy, which is achieved by mashing some of the chickpeas directly in the curry base.

The cooking process for Chikar cholay starts similarly, with chickpeas soaked and then boiled. However, the spices slightly differ. While turmeric, red chili, and garam masala still play vital roles, the addition of green cardamom, cinnamon stick, and coriander seeds give it an edge.

This simple recipe is cooked in a large pot over medium heat, with enough water to achieve that desired thick consistency. Some versions even recommend using bicarbonate of soda for that authentic taste and mushy texture.

Traditionally, Chikar cholay is served with a type of bread known as ‘bhature.’ The combo is so popular that many in Pakistan and even parts of North India refer to it as “Cholay Bhature.” The thick gravy of Chikar cholay clings to the bhature, making every bite a delightful mix of soft bread and flavorful chickpea mix.

For those looking to recreate this traditional Punjabi recipe at home, remember to serve it hot, preferably with slices of onions and a squeeze of lemon to enhance that tangy taste.

Battle of the Beans: Key Differences Highlighted

So, you’ve heard a lot about the cholay recipe Pakistani folks can’t stop talking about. But what truly sets Lahori cholay apart from Chikar cholay? For starters, it’s the consistency. While Lahori cholay has a more liquid gravy, Chikar is all about that dense, thick texture.

The choice of spices also varies. Though both use basic spices like red chili powder and turmeric, Chikar cholay often incorporates more whole spices like green cardamom and cinnamon stick, giving it a slightly different flavor profile.

The cooking techniques differ too. Lahori cholay is more about layering flavors, adding spices at different stages of the cooking process, and often requires more cooking time. In contrast, Chikar cholay is more straightforward, with most ingredients added at once and then left to simmer to perfection. The result? Two equally delicious dishes, each with its unique charm and character.

Both these styles represent the diverse and vibrant culinary landscape of Pakistan. They showcase how a simple recipe, like a chickpea curry, can be transformed in so many ways, each version telling its own story.

Whether you’re team Lahori or Chikar, there’s no denying that the cholay recipe Pakistani tradition offers is a testament to the country’s love for food, flavor, and the joy of communal eating.

FeatureLahori CholayChikar Cholay
ConsistencyMore liquid gravyThick, mud-like gravy
SpicesGreen chilies, red chili powder, turmericGreen cardamom, cinnamon, coriander seeds
TextureSofter chickpeasMushy, mashed chickpeas in the gravy
Cooking TechniqueLayering flavors, longer cooking timeSimpler, most ingredients added at once
Serving SuggestionWith flatbread like tandoori roti or puriTraditionally served with bhature
Special NotesKnown for its spicy kickRenowned for its comfort food qualities

Customizing Cholay: Make It Your Own!

When it comes to the cholay recipe pakistani, there are a lot of recipes out there, each with its own unique twist. This chickpea curry is a testament to Pakistan’s rich food culture, where each region and even individual families have their own versions.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a personal touch. Have you ever thought of adding green chilies for that extra kick? Or maybe swap out the red lentils for masoor dal? The possibilities are endless.

Using a simple recipe as a base, you can adjust the spices to cater to your taste buds. Add a bit more turmeric powder or red chili powder if you love a vibrant color and intense flavor. If you’re a fan of the tangy taste, a sprinkle of amchur powder can do wonders.

On the other hand, garam masala powder and roasted cumin powder can give it a more authentic taste. And let’s not forget the power of green cardamom and cinnamon stick. The aroma alone can transport you on a culinary journey right in your kitchen.

For those who like their chickpea curry a bit more smooth, adding a cup water or even a splash of water can give you that desired consistency. But if you’re a fan of chikar chole, which is characterized by its mushy texture, then you might want to reduce the water and let it simmer on low heat. Remember, the cholay recipe pakistani is all about making it your own. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and customize.

The Perfect Pair: What to Serve with Your Cholay

The cholay recipe pakistani is a versatile dish that pairs wonderfully with various accompaniments. One of the most popular combinations is halwa puri. The sweet taste of halwa and the fluffiness of puri complements the savory and spicy cholay beautifully. Another quintessential street food pairing is with tandoori roti or any other flat bread. The smoky flavor from the tandoor enhances the blend of spices in the cholay.

For those who enjoy a more traditional food recipe experience, serving cholay with boiled rice can be a delightful option. The chickpeas with their thick gravy sit beautifully atop a bed of steaming rice. Add a few green chilies on the side, and you’ve got yourself a perfect main course meal. And, if you’re hosting family members or close friends, you can dress up the dish by adding a tbsp of hot ghee on top before serving. It not only adds a rich flavor but also gives a beautiful sheen to the dish!

Now, if you’re in the mood for something light, turning the cholay into a mid-meal snack is the best way to go. Just grab some flatbreads, add a generous serving of cholay, top with fresh tomatoes and onions, and you have a wrap ready to be devoured. The tangy taste of fresh tomatoes cuts through the spices, making it a delicious dish to savor.

Cholay Craze: Making It a Family Event!

Cooking the cholay recipe pakistani doesn’t have to be a solitary affair. In fact, turning it into a family event can be both fun and educational, especially when you have little chefs eager to help. Start by designating simple tasks for the kids. Let them rinse the chickpeas, measure out the basic spices, or even stir the pot (under supervision, of course!). You’ll be surprised at how these little tasks can make them feel involved and responsible.

Now, let’s get creative. Set up a chickpea mix station where family members can customize their cholay toppings. From green chillies to boiled potatoes, the options are endless. For the kids, how about a “design your own cholay bowl” activity? Give them boiled chickpeas, a little water, and an assortment of spices (mild ones for the younger taste buds). They can mix and match to create their own version of the dish. It’s a great way to introduce them to new flavors and also teach them about the rich food culture of Pakistan.

To wrap up the event, gather around the dining table and share stories. Have family roots in Pakistan, perhaps there’s an old family anecdote related to Pakistani culture. Sharing these moments not only makes the meal more special but also strengthens family bonds. Remember, it’s not just about the delicious dish you’ve created, but the memories you’ve made along the way. 

Wrapping It Up: The Universal Appeal of Cholay

The beauty of the cholay recipe pakistani lies in its universal appeal. From the streets of Lahore to the dining tables of homes worldwide, this chickpea curry has made its mark. It’s not just about the mouthwatering blend of spices or the comforting texture; it’s also about the memories and traditions it carries with it. Every bite takes you on a journey through Pakistan’s rich food culture and its culinary traditions.

It’s amazing how a dish as simple as boiled chickpeas can be transformed into a masterpiece with the right blend of spices. Be it the Lahori chikar cholay recipe or the traditional Punjabi recipe; every version has its own story to tell. Each time you cook it, you add a little bit of yourself to the dish, making it even more special.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for some comfort food or want to introduce your friends to the wonders of Pakistani cuisine, you know which dish to go for. The cholay recipe pakistani is not just food; it’s an experience, a memory, a legacy. Try this recipe today! And, be sure to share this article with other adventurous cooks out there!


Q: What is the Difference Between Cholay and Chana Masala? 🤔

While both cholay and chana masala are beloved dishes starring chickpeas, they’re like cousins with their own unique charm. Let’s unwrap this culinary conundrum:

  1. Origins & Cultural Ties: Cholay often hails from Pakistan, especially popular in cities like Lahore. Chana masala, on the other hand, is a classic from North India. Each dish carries the culinary history and traditions of its region.
  2. The Spice Mix Symphony: The spices are where these two really strut their stuff differently. Cholay typically sings with a simpler melody of spices, often featuring green chilies, garam masala, and sometimes a tangy twist with tamarind. Chana masala, however, dances to a more complex tune. It’s a blend of several spices including amchur (dry mango powder), coriander, cumin, and others, creating a multi-layered flavor profile.
  3. Gravy Texture & Consistency: Here’s where you can spot a difference from a mile away! Cholay usually has a thicker, more robust gravy, often leaning towards a heartier, mud-like consistency. In contrast, chana masala sports a slightly lighter, more fluid gravy, making it a bit more soup-like.
  4. The Lemon Squeeze of Regional Variations: While the basic framework of cholay and chana masala stays the same, regional twists can add an exciting spin. For instance, in some parts of Punjab, cholay might be prepared with a dollop of yogurt, adding a creamy touch.

So, next time you’re spooning a mouthful of either dish, remember – while they might look similar, their stories and flavors have their own unique spice to them! 🌶️

Lahori Style Pakistani Cholay Recipe

Course: DinnerCuisine: PakistaniDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



Tantalizing chickpea curry, brimming with rich flavors, garnished with fresh coriander leaves, and traditionally paired with naan or tandoori roti.


  • 2 cups chickpeas (soaked overnight in enough water)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes, pureed

  • 3-4 green chillies, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder

  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2-3 green cardamom pods

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds (lightly crushed)

  • 1/4 cup oil or ghee

  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

  • Lemon wedges and sliced onions for serving


  • Preparation of Chickpeas: In a large pot, add the soaked chickpeas with enough water to cover them. Add bicarbonate of soda. Boil the chickpeas until they are tender and fully cooked. Drain and set aside.
  • Cooking the Masala: In a large heavy-based saucepan or pot, heat the oil or ghee. Add the chopped onions and fry until they turn a golden brown color. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Adding Spices: Add the red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt, and black pepper. Fry the spices for a minute until fragrant. If the masala gets too dry, add a little water to prevent it from burning.
  • Tomato Puree: Add the pureed tomatoes and green chillies to the saucepan. Cook the mixture on medium heat until the oil starts to separate from the masala.
  • Chickpeas and Final Touches: Add the boiled chickpeas to the saucepan. Stir well to ensure the chickpeas are fully coated with the masala. Add the roasted cumin powder, garam masala powder, cinnamon stick, and green cardamom. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20-25 minutes to let all the flavors meld together.
  • Garnishing: Once the cholay are cooked and the gravy has thickened to your liking, turn off the heat. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  • Serving: Serve the Lahori style Pakistani Cholay hot with lemon wedges, sliced onions, and flatbread like naan or tandoori roti. You can also pair it with halwa puri for a traditional Lahori breakfast experience.

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