Chick pea trail to Rawal Pindi- Food Bytes by Monish Gujral The Sunday Standard

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The chickpea trail to Rawalpindi

Monish Gujral Last Updated : 13 Apr 2012 12:11:19 PM IST
Yes, I know I ought to be writing about cheese and chocolates, sitting in Amsterdam or about the famous herring salad with warm bread, but after all the leftover tuna salad and mashed potato, in simple words, the slew of western food, I am craving for my Pind da khaana. I’m back to cooking food that I crave for and enjoy, for a while at least, so please bear with my sudden pang for traditional recipes!
Till recently, I thought Pindi chana meant the village recipe for chickpeas, as Pind in Punjabi means village. However, lately I discovered, while talking to my mother-in-law that Pindi chana is named after Rawalpindi, a city in the Punjab province of present-day Pakistan. With a long history of several invasions and changes in power, the city has many fine monuments resplendent with ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic architecture. The city life in Rawalpindi is abuzz with lively bazaars, countless restaurants, food-stalls, and street-vendors, offering ample opportunities to sample the delectable local fare.
This time, I am going to share my mother-in-law’s special Pindi chana recipe, incidentally she hails from Rawalpindi, but post partition migrated to India. I am sure; you will bless me after relishing the hearty chana bhatura or kulcha meal with your family.
A chana recipe has several variations, and I got an idea of that when I went on my Pindi chana recipe hunting. Some said that kala (black) chana should be used; others suggested kabuli (white). Then a few told me that chana is best cooked with amla (Indian gooseberries) because it gives a sour taste and adds a dark colour to the dish. Some suggested tea-bags for colour and taste. Some use tomatoes, while a few don’t. There are different explanations regarding the use of onion, some use freshly chopped with the final dish, while others prefer brown fried as part of the masala. The differences will never cease to exist; the only thing I know for certain is that I won’t know anything definite until I visit the city someday. It is also hard to accept that there will just be one Pindi chana recipe all across a city of three million people. Every household has its special chana recipe and every child claims that it is his mother or grandmother who makes the best chana in the world, my claim of inheritance is from my in laws. Wow, what an
Over the course of these recipe-runs, I found myself making a few changes in the method, nothing that compromises with the original intention of the recipe. Just the right cooking of the masalas without overcooking the chickpeas, and waiting till the end to add the garam masala to avoid evaporation of all the precious oils.
The writer is a well-known restaurateur and author of many cookbooks. Follow him at
Topics:Chickpea, Pind da chana, Rawalpindi

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

1 Comment

  1. Rehan Afzal

    October 9, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I hail from Pindi; but you would be surprised that up until I was in my 20s, I had never known about Pindi Chholay. At present there are no more than 3 or 4 outlets that serve them. The worst part, no one knows them to be Pindi Chholay or Channay. I have some friends in India to thank for learning this name.

    Didn’t want to discourage you from coming to Pindi, but please don’t think you will find Pindi Chholay on every corner !

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