Punjabi Breakfast Chole (Vegan, Vegetarian)

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Occasionally, despite what you might hear, I will indulge my husband and cook something for him that he enjoys. 😉

He loves anything with traditional Indian or Pakistani flavours. Especially a traditional desi nashta (aka breakfast). For us this means a huge spread – which includes some form of egg either a desi omlette or these fluffy shakshuka eggs. Some sort of potato curry, a sweet halwa, and punjabi chole with deep fried puri or bhature.

Quick Bhature Options

This punjabi chole recipe is what is traditionally served with fried puri – called bhature – for an indulgent weekend breakfast. The whole thing is called chole bhature and it delicious! I love the punjabi chole curry. The bhature (puri) are a bit of work to make from scratch, so I with cheat a bit to save time.

I will either just cook up a few frozen parathas on the stove, or, if I want to really indulge, I will deep fry a few flour tortillas. Kinda like a pseudo. They cook up just like a puri would, but a little less greasy actually. Both options work really well in a pinch when you get a hankering for some quick chole bhature.

If you are inclined to make your own bhature I would suggest this recipe. Which is also what I adapted to make my own quicker version of this punjabi chole curry.

Secret to Punjabi Breakfast Chole – Add some tea!

The secret to the chickpea curry is to boil the chickpeas with a tea bag. The flavour of the tea is barely noticeable in the end, but there is a definite depth of flavour and colour that the tea bag adds to this curry that makes a big difference in the end result. I also use canned chickpeas to speed things up, but if you want to use dried chickpeas please make sure you soak them overnight before boiling.

The other secret to a really good chole curry is to spice in layers. You have base spices that cook up in the beginning and continue to flavour the dish as it cooks, then the middle spices to add flavour to the curry. And finally you top it off with some tempering. A fresh spice flavoured oil that gives it a final burst of flavour at the end. The layers of flavours come together into this magical rich curry that works as well for breakfast as it does for dinner.

Quick Punjabi Breakfast Chole

A simple way to make this desi chickpea curry with a depth of slow cooked flavour in under 30 minutes. Great for weekend brunch with some puri or for a quick weeknight dinner with some parathas or rice.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: pakistani
Keyword: dairy free, gluten free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4


  • 1 can chickpeas (approx. 340g)
  • 1 tea bag (orange pekoe or black tea is best)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 green chilli diced
  • cup crushed tomatoes (either from a can, or 2-3 fresh tomatoes blended till smooth)
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnish

Base spices

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp whole cumin / jeera
  • ½ tsp kasuri methi

Curry Spices

  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp aamchur
  • ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)

Tempering Spices

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 whole dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (optional)


Prepare the Chickpeas

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas well.
  • In a large saucepan, add the chickpeas, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tea bag and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium low for 15 minutes till the chickpeas are tender. Set aside.

Prepare the Curry

  • Meanwhile, chop the onion, green chilli and prepare the spice mixes in separate bowls so you have them ready to go.
  • In a large non-stick wok or saucepan, start to heat 2 tbsp oil. Add the base spices and allow to fry for 1-2 minutes till starting to sputter.
  • Add the diced onions and cook on medium until the onions start to turn golden brown. About 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the minced ginger, garlic and diced green chilli. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the curry spice mix and allow the spices to roast and get fragrant for about 1 minute.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and cook on medium low, stirring often, until some of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the oil starts to to separate on top of the curry mixture.
  • By this time the chickpeas should be softened. Remove the tea bag from the chickpeas and add the chickpeas with their boiling water into the tomato mixture.
  • Stir and bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. You can also add more water if you like. Or allow to boil for longer to evaporate the liquid for a dryer curry.


  • Just before serving, in a small frying pan heat 3 tbsp oil and add the tempering spice mix.
  • Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes until the spices are sputtering and become fragrant and pour this oil with the spices over the hot curry.
  • Serve immediately with some puri, paratha or rice. Enjoy!

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