Cholay ka salan – Spicy Chickpea curry

chickpea curry in a steel bowl with a plate of more curry on the side

If you’ve ever visited any of my blogposts, you know I am not big on vegetarian food. But this cholay ka salan (chickpea curry) has my heart! Eaten with puris (fried flat breads), this is hands down one of the best things that goes on our weekend Brunch tables. If you are a Pakistani or Indian, you already know that halwa puri is the best Brown brunch ever. If you’ve heard this for the very first time, let me fill you in.

Chickpea curry is a mildly spiced thick curry made to be eaten in breakfast with naan, parathas or puris. It is also a part of a big Desi Brunch set up which includes:

It’s the BEST vegetarian brunch from the lands of South Asia and if you aren’t sold yet, you can also just try the chickpea curry on its own with a paratha.

an Indian / Pakistani breakfast buffet with aloo ki tarkari, cholay ka saaan, puri and sooji ka halwa

Easy steps to make chickpea curry

Using red lentils as a thickening agent.

This recipe is super popular, so its befitting that there are tonnnnns of different versions of a chickpea curry online. This recipe is the one that pairs BEST with parathey and puri. Some recipes use corn flour as thickening agent for the curry. I personally don’t enjoy the texture or effect that cornflour brings to this recipe. So, instead I use red lentils to add a little body to the curry. And it goes so well with all the other flavors that it feels like it was always meant to be. So I soak a little red lentils on the side and begin preparing my curry base.

soaked red lentils

Making the curry base

It starts with sliced onions in oil with coriander seeds.

sliced onions and coriander seeds in oil in a black pot

Once the onion turn golden brown, add in your usually curry base ingredients. There’s some chopped tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt and red chili powder. Saute for about 2 mins just to temper the spices and get rid of any rawness in there.

Cover up the pot at low flame for about 10 mins. This is only to soften the tomatoes slightly and cook the onions. Doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through.

softened tomato in a red curry base in a black pot

Once your curry base looks like this, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Adding lentils

Adding in the soaked lentils with some water and covering it up. Again, I am using a very small quantity of lentils here, just to give the curry some body. Cover the pot and cook for about 20 mins or so.

After 20 mins, your lentils would have cooked all the way to give you a nice curry base.

dal base for cholay ka saalan

Adding chickpeas

Now we add a little tangy element and chickpeas. To add that tangy-ness, you can either use mango powder or tamarind pulp. Both work just fine. I used tamarind pulp water here.

For chickpeas, ideally this curry is made with the small white chickpeas, but of course I didn’t have any at hand and I used the bigger ones instead.

cholay ka salan with boiled chickpeas added to it in a blackpot

Add the boiled chickpeas and mango powder or tamarind pulp in the curry. Let it cook for 5 mins. And its ready. You can adjust how thick or thin you want to keep the gravy.

Finish it off with sprinkling some garam masala powder and chat masala powder on top with some coriander and serve hot with that gorgeous puris!

cholay kas salan or chickpea curry in a steal handi

Alternates, Fixes and remixes

  • Like I mentioned above you can use mango powder instead of tamarind water or pulp
  • If your curry is to thick, you can always add more water to get the desired consistency you want. Adjust the seasoning slightly if you are going to add more water.
  • This curry freezes very well! And also survives for up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • For mild variations, try adding fennel seeds and curry leaves to the onions while frying.
cholay kas salan or chickpea curry in a steal handi

Cholay ka salan

Yield: 4 to 5 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

A traditional Pakistani / Indian tangy spicy chickpea curry traditionally eaten with fried flat breads (puris) or parathas,


  • 1/4th cup oil
  • 1 medium onion halved and in slices (biryani cut)
  • 3 to 4 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tsp Whole coriander seeds (saabit dhaniya)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or taste
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp (or tamarind water) or according to taste
  • 2 cups boiled small white chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup red lentils (masoor ki daal) soaked in water for 20 mins
  • Coriander for garnish
  • garam masala powder for garnish
  • Chat masala powder for garnish


  1. Add oil in a pot on medium flame.
  2. Add sliced onions and whole coriander seeds. Saute till the onion turns golden brown.
  3. Add in chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric, red chili powder and garlic ginger paste. Allow the tomatoes, reduce the flame to low and cover the lid to soften up tomatoes for 5 mins.
  4. Add in red lentils along with 2 cups of water. Cover the lid more than half way through and let the lentils cook at medium flame. (Don't cover the lid completely as the lentils will boil and spill over). Cook for about 15 to 20 mins.
  5. Check to see if lentils have cooked completely. Add tamarind water and pulp along with boiled chickpeas.
  6. Allow the chickpeas to cook in the gravy for 5 mins.
  7. Add another cup of water and sprinkle some garam masala powder, chat masala and coriander on top and serve with puri, paratha or naan.
  8. You can adjust how thick you want to keep the gravy once its ready, adjust seasoning accordingly.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 544Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 750mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 7g

Did you make this recipe?

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