RECIPE: Chole Te Paneer

An Indian recipe to celebrate Holi 'The Festival of Colors'

HOUSTON – Today begins Holi, also known as the “Festival of Colors,” one of the most celebrated festivals of India. And food, of course, is an important part of the celebration, that’s why Chef Sunil Srivastava, from Verandah Progressive Indian Restaurant, stopped by our studio with a recipe for Chole Te Paneer, a popular dish made with cottage cheese and white chickpeas, perfect for those want to celebrate Holi at home, or just want to try a new and delicious Indian recipe.

"While there are many more modern recipes for this popular dish, this one goes back centuries and would be prepared in home kitchens for holidays and special events," said Srivastava.

All the ingredients can be found in Houston’s Indian markets and specialty stores, so don’t hesitate to get creative in the kitchen and give this dish a try.

Chole Te Paneer

1 cup dried chickpeas
½ cup paneer (Indian cottage cheese), plus some for garnish
1 ½ cup Spanish onion, chopped
4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 cup tomato (about one medium), chopped
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon Indian chili powder, medium hot
½ tablespoon ground ginger        
½ teaspoon ground black salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chaat masala
1 ½ tablespoons cilantro, chopped, plus some whole for garnish
3 tablespoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon white cumin seeds
1 teaspoon carom seeds
4 Indian chile pods
½ teaspoon asafetida (optional)
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste

For garnish:
Thinly sliced Spanish onion
Lemon wedges
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Grated paneer

The night before serving, place all the chickpea beans in a pot and fill with water about 3 inches above the level of the beans. The beans will almost double in size so plan the pot accordingly. Cover and let soak overnight.

When ready to begin preparing, drain the beans, add more water to cover by about 3 inches and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for about one hour until beans are softened but not mushy.

While the beans are simmering, combine all the ground spices and mix thoroughly and set aside. When the beans are ready, add the paneer and stir in. Continue to simmer.

In a large sauté pan, heat the mustard oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds, carom seeds, and chiles. Sauté until the chiles have softened and the seeds are starting to brown.

Add the onion, tomato and ginger julienne and the dried spices to the chickpea mixture. Pour the mustard oil mixture over the chickpeas and gently stir to combine. Add lemon juice over the top and spoon chickpeas into one large or several individual serving dishes.

Garnish with the cilantro, paneer and lemon wedges. Serve with warm Indian bread.

Recipe provided by Sunil Srivastava