School was a hop skip and jump away from Boat Basin, an iconic strip of food joints that had some of the best food Karachi has to offer. Most people will sit in their cars and order food from the servers who will come up to the window. You could get a burger from Chips, a slush from Mr. Burger, Chicken Tikkas from Tandoori Hut, Caramel Crunch Ice Cream from Rajoos and a Cold Coffee from Baloch all without moving an inch. And then that Aloo Chana and Poori. Woah. Just thinking about it is making me happy and hungry.
My favorite Boat Basin memories are the early morning ones - the times where close friends and soon to be friends would show up long before the city was awake to sit on damp plastic chairs, huddling in to ourselves as we held our cups of chai tight and anxiously awaited our halwa puri breakfast. Now we call it halwa puri, but most of the times it was a 'hold the halwa, bring me puris and aloo chana" breakfast.
Why these aren't the same, but are still my favourite
Nowadays I have Aloo Chana more often for dinner and lunch than I do breakfast. My favourite version to make at home is this one - it is not quite the same as the breakfast cholay. When I originally shared this recipe years ago it felt like it was, but now that I am older and pay more attention to what I eat the flavour differential seems clear to me.
I still make this most though because it is a great way to have a filling vegetarian main and because when it has these flavours I don't get that whole breakfast for dinner vibe! That said if you want to know how to get that Pakistani breakfast chole taste keep reading!
How to make "Nashtay Walay" Aloo Cholay
If you want to add some of that Boat Basin Nashta flair then I have three tips for you. Brace yourself because one will sound a little strange.
- Cook the cholay with a teabag - the teabag will give the cholay a colour and flavour that will take you straight back to those chickpeas
- Omit the tomatoes - really!
- Add a dollop of achar.
I do strongly recommend you try this Aloo Chana recipe as is and preferably with a South Asian brand of canned chickpeas since they tend to be smaller and softer. I love having these chholay with roti, but the girls like them over rice. Can you still serve these with pooris? Of course!
Love them chickpeas? So do I! Here are two other favourites with chickpeas in them!
Tried this recipe? Please rate it below and if you make it then tag me on instagram @flourandspiceblog - I'd love to see your recreation!
Aloo Chole/Chana or Potato and Chickpea Curry
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup potatoes cut into ½ cm thick pieces
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
- 2-3 cloves
- 4 black peppers
- 1 onion diced
- 1 inch ginger (grated) or 2 tsp ginger paste
- 4 cloves garlic crushed or 1 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 ½ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 ½ - 2 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 2 tomatoes finely diced
- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
- as many green chillies as you can eat - I used 4-5 thinly sliced
- lemon wedges for serving
- Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large saucepan or wok, add cumin seeds, cloves, peppers, and kalonji. The seeds will sputter and smell amazing
- Add onions and fry till golden
- Now add the ginger and garlic, stir for a minute or two then add the rest of your dry spices i.e. coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
- Saute for two minutes then throw in the chopped tomatoes, cook till 'bhunn' i.e masalas form a cohesive paste and oil rises above them.
- Now add your chickpeas, potatoes, and baking soda. Stir well, then add one cup of hot water and cover your pan. Bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
- Mash the potatoes and chickpeas slightly with the back of a large spoon to create a thicker gravy. Taste for salt - you may need to add more.
- Then top with cilantro, chillies, and serve with lemon wedges, achar and hot puris. Yum.