Chana Bhatura at Sita Ram Diwan Chand

chana

When conniving Mughal upstart Aurangzeb imprisoned his father, Emperor Shah Jehan, in Agra Fort in 1657, he told him he could choose just one thing to eat every day for the rest of his life. The old man chose chick peas because the prison cook told him he would be able to make something different every day of the year.

Until recently, I would have snorted in disbelief in this  – chick peas?  Synonymous with hairy hippies in bedsits and tubs of slimy supermarket hummous?  Then came ‘Chana  Bhatura’ and I discovered  I could actively crave something involving chick peas.

There are very few deep-fried foods I can resist and I admit what first attracted me to this dish, in places like Evergreen in Green Park and Nathus in Bengali Market, were the magnificent balloon-sized puffed-up ‘bhatura’.  In the early days the  accompanying chana was just a sloppy, sludge-coloured distraction.  I used to dip the bread but I’m ashamed to admit the chick peas often went back to the kitchen barely touched.

chana bhatura

chana bhatura

It’s hard to say how things changed, all I know is before long the bhatura was merely the vehicle for scooping ever more of the soft,  creamy, spicy peas.

I’m now more likely to eat at the kind of joint that offers ‘unlimited chana’.  Like Sita Ram Diwan Chand in Paharganj, where we headed last week in the latest leg of our mission to persuade Delhi’s finest  street food joints to part with their secret family recipes.

That One's Mine

That One's Mine

From their small shop in Chuna Mandi near the Imperial Cinema, Sita Ram make what many Delhi-ites believe to be the perfect Chana Bhatura. Certainly many customers, including leading industrialists and movie stars, travel great distances for their daily fix.

When we arrived at about 9am, the two or three tables outside the tiny kerbside restaurant were already buzzing with customers on their way to work. We managed to put away a plate each in no time.

Every mouthful was memorable but particularly those where I managed to cram in paneer-laced bhatura, chick peas, onion and pickled carrot, all at the same time. I strongly urge everyone to do this sometime soon and take a moment to give thanks for what’s going on in your mouth.  I bet those  8 years in Agra Fort just flew by.

We spoke to  fellow diner, 72 year-old Gulshan Jaggi who has been coming to the shop since 1948, often several times a week, even though he no longer lives in the neighbourhood.  He maintains the Chana Bhatura is as good now as it was then, “I have tasted Chana Bhatura all over Delhi,” he said. “But here the chole is unique, very delicious.  They maintain the standards set down by their ancestors.”

great wall of chana

The Great Men of Chana

After we’d polished off a third plate, Pran Kohli, the current owner, took us through the history.  His grandfather, Diwan Chand,  arrived in Delhi from what is now  Pakistan at the time of Partition in 1947 with little more than his recipe for Chana Bhatura. For almost 30 years, he and his son Sita Ram pushed a handcart around Paharganj before moving into their present shop in Chuna Mandi.

Sita Ram Diwan Chand owner, Pran Kohli
Sita Ram Diwan Chand owner, Pran Kohli

Pran Kohli joined the business straight from school in 1984. and has done little to alter the winning formula handed down to him – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, I say. The secret, he says, is to treat even the most humble ingredients with respect. “This is a cheap roadside dish, but we use good quality ingredients so it’s better than others.  We don’t want to compromise.” The result is food infused with love and care; a perfect combination of flavours and textures which,  like all of the best street food in India, is a world-class   feast.

The Recipes

Chana

Chana

Chana

Soak 1kg chick peas overnight.  In the morning, boil the chick peas in fresh water for 30 minutes then add 25g bicarbonate of soda (according to Pran Kohli this speeds up the softening of the chick peas and aids  digestion)

Brown 300g chopped onion in oil or ghee.  Add 200g yogurt, 200g chopped tomatoes and 1tsp turmeric.  Cook on a low heat for about one hour until the mixture is a deep reddish colour.  When the chick peas are ready, drain off the cooking water and mix with the tomato  and onion gravy.  Add 20g salt, 20g black pepper, 30g dried pomegranate powder (anardana) and 15g garm masala – Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s mix, which they make themselves, contains black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, coriander, cumin and something called ‘sud’ which I haven’t found a translation of yet).  Mix well and add 200g potatoes made as follows:

For 1 kg cooked potatoes, chop 200g onion and cook in oil with 200g chopped tomatoes and 1tsp turmeric to make a gravy then add 10g salt, 10g black pepper, 5g red chilli powder, 25g dried pomegranate powder and 20g garm masala.  Cook the gravy until masala is roasted.

Bhatura

Bhatura

Bhatura

Mix 1kg plain flour (maida) and 1tsp baking powder with approximately 400g water (enough to make a soft dough).  Knead well for 7-10 minutes or until dough is soft and springy.  Put in a bowl and leave, covered with damp tea towel for  at least one and a half hours.

For the bhatura stuffing, finely chop 300g of paneer and add 10g salt, 5g cumin seeds, 5g garm masala, 5g black pepper, 10g chopped  fresh coriander. Press a handful of  stuffing into each small ball of dough before rolling out and frying.

Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s Chana Bhatura comes with slices of onion and pickled vegetables (carrot when we visited but varies according to the season) and both play an important part in creating a perfect combination of flavours.

pickled carrots

pickled carrots

Pickled Carrot

Wash and cut up 1kg of carrot into long chunks and steep for a few days in 2 litres of ‘sour water’ (water containing 25g black mustard seed, 10g salt, 5g turmeric). Wash the carrots, add 10g salt, 5g red chilli and mix well.

Sita Ram Diwan Chand

Chuna Mandi, opposite Imperial Cinema, Paharganj

Open 8-5 daily

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67 thoughts on “Chana Bhatura at Sita Ram Diwan Chand

  1. wow that’s my fav dish…..but i make it at home as i can’t eat out ( not by choice though)……..the SUD you were not getting is actually pronounced ‘sund’ in punjabi and ‘sonth ‘ in hindi and actually is dried ginger root.

  2. Came here through Finest Foodie Friday.Congrats.The recipes and the post is amazing.Never knew about the ShahJahan Chickpea story.Whatever it is chcpeas are good.

  3. i love your passion, your writing style and the way you manage to glean these precious recipes from these chefs. bravo!!!

  4. 😀 It seems you’ve been visitng all of Skeety’s favourite places.. and you managed to extract HIS recipes!
    I am more of an aloo fan than the chana fan as far as Sitaram is concerned…I am sure gonna try this aloo recipe at home and see for myself if he has parted with the exact recipe…Clever and please-all chefs part with their recipe sans one ingredient 😀 hehe hope he didn’t do that to you… 🙂

    anyway great stuff on this blog..
    cheers!

  5. what a wonderful blog you have Sweta recommended it to me, I grew up In Scotland, married to an Indian living in the states will follow your posts Rebecca

  6. Rebecca, thanks so much for lovely comment – we’re off to Edinburgh next week so the blog might take on a more Scottish flavour – bring on the pies! Where did you grow up?

  7. Pingback: Home Made Chana Bhatura « eat and dust

  8. Pingback: Sitaram Diwan Chand: Masterclass & Recipes - Eating Out in Delhi

  9. Thanks Vishal – I wish I could do nothing but roam the streets of Delhi trying out new things to eat!

  10. yummmmmm!!!! sound addictive.. i somtime use to make indian food.. the biggest prob is we dnt usually get the correct ingredients.. but sure gonna try this one.. nice blog.. and excellent writing.. keep it up!!
    cheers!!

  11. Nora – see the other recipe for ‘home made chana bhatura’ – I don’t know where you are but I managed to rustle this up here in Scotland this week – most ingredients are available at the corner shop.

  12. its very delicious, my grand father and father gone there daily, now i am going . i cant forget his taste.

  13. these r the best chana bathure i ever had when i was in delhi .i live in canada but it still remind me of my old days.

  14. I have been visiting sitaram diwanchand since 1961 when I was a small child. the chana bhatura by sitaram is as same as it was in 1961.

  15. Hey my husband is a slave of your site. We are having channa bhatura as our staple Sat night Dinner since the past 15 years . Ever since he has discovered this site , he refuses to let me cook Channa. He himself cooks and uses your recepie for this .It comes out deliciously (needless to say ).Hats off to you.Keep up the good work .

  16. The worst Chole Bhature that I have had till now. Bhature are served hours after being prepared after reheating with awfully oily Chole. I really repent my believing the reviews of various persons about this place and coming to have these awful Chole Bhature. The worst part is that the owner and the staff behave in an arrogant manner as if they are serving free of cost. Even a roadside vendor provides Paper Napkins but these people are out of this world so do not expect anything of that sort from them. One should not praise anything blindly for the others are doing it.

  17. Hi Ranjan Thanks for your message. I think you definitely have a point about Sitaram. I was there recently and I think their chhole bhature are not what they were. Things seem to have gone downhill sice they moved to new promises. Where’s your favourite place for chhole bhature?

  18. Sitaram Diwanchand… just that name tickles my taste buds and the glands go nuts. Last time i was in India I must have consumed 8 or 9 portions of their ‘chola bhatura’ over a 2-day period and was still craving for more.
    In Hindustan, as i call India, if you want to taste the real Indian recipes, which is often times at some street-joints, you have to block off your ‘hygiene-consciousness’ and roll up your sleeves. A way around this is to get your order to-go. What we get in the name of Indian food in the western world is absolutely nothing close to this. I would drive for a hundred miles any day to get Sitaram’s chola bhatura.

    You know what i’d go Five-Hundred miles for is?
    Mutton Korma at Kareem’s near Jama Masjid in Old Delhi.
    Not gonna hijack this thread, as this Korma, or Quorma demands a section of it’s own.

  19. Hi Ankur – I agree, although when were you last here. Sitaram have moved along the street and gone a bit ‘upmarket’ and I’m not sure the quality is so good – I’d be interested to know what others think

  20. i’m Dr. chiranth, from bangalore, i had visited delhi for my visa interview, and had stayed in chuna mandi and tasted channa batura from sita ram diwan chand’s shop, its simply amazing taste, simply superb, when ever i visit delhi next time, i wil not forget to have it again, people dont miss it.

  21. Adding yogurt to the chana is a new thing for me (instead i add a spoonful of yogurt in bhatura dough). And also instead of using readymade chana masala, will grind fresh spices individually. Thanks for the post.

  22. I went to the new place a few weeks ago and found the chole bathure to be very good. In fact, the best I’ve had in Delhi or even elsewhere though I’ve read somewhere on this blog that there is another such like eatery which betters Dewan Chand Sita Ram.

  23. aha…i didn’t notice till late after I read this blog that this was written by a gori kudi :P. felt like it was written by a soulful delhite (and surely you are one of us for sure). I do this most of the days myself that is to roam around nearby mostly in search of new places to eat for breakfast and that too most of the time chole bhature is on my mind 😀 hehe…

    cheers!

  24. Pamela this is beautifully done. Lovely story presented with great creative twists.

    I have paid my obeisance to the temple of chick peas on two separate occasions in the last 3 months. A veritable delight to eat the food here.

    Lovely photographs and specially coming from me as I have not been able to get a decent shot of their chick peas in the large container. Maybe I will have to go and re shoot again.

  25. I want a little guidance. I am not in delhi and the recipe says to add-

    and 15g garm masala – Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s mix, which they make themselves, contains black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, coriander, cumin and something called ‘sud’ which I haven’t found a translation of yet).

    But i cant get Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s mix so shall i continue with these ingredients ?? How’s the taste ?? is it exactly similar ??

  26. Every time I go to Delhi I always try their Choley and bhaturey which is my all time favorite for the last 40 years. This time I brought some with me to London for my wife and children to try. They all loved it. We will be back in Delhi in August and we all will definitlely visit their shop on Pharganj.

  27. They now sell the heat n cook variety a few shops down, Chole, Suji ka halwa etc. Also they have these mixed spice packets too, for the Chhole, Shahi paneer and Aloo subzi, in addition to a chai masala.

    I tried out the Chole recipe to their directions on the packet, and it was no where near the one found in their store, it was wayyyy too salty and also spicier.

    Still have to try out their Shahi paneer masala though, should give it a try sometime soon.

  28. Pingback: Cooking the Book: Recipes from Korma Kheer and Kismet – 1. Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s Chana Bhatura | eat and dust

  29. Pls send recipe for garam masala
    Or address of sits ram diwan chand
    So that I can order for garam masala through courier
    Thanks
    Savitha from Bangalore

  30. Pingback: A Spot of Surgery and a Saveur Blog Award Finalist | eat and dust

  31. awsome channa bhatura because i was eat 2 year ago.
    you also try stuffed patties,Flavuerd patties (ASHOKA BAKERS) in MATHURA.
    +919058786718.
    (YOU ALSO COME PAMELLA TIMS)

  32. awsome channa bhatura because i was eat 2 year ago.
    you also try stuffed patties,Flavuerd patties (ASHOKA BAKERS) in MATHURA.
    +919058786718.
    (YOU ALSO COME PAMELLA TIMS)
    (I INVITE YOU)

  33. I think by sud they maybe referring to dried ginger powder coz punjabis pronounce it sund…. also known as saunth or soonth by other states.

  34. These seem to be delicious channas, but they are not what are known as Pindi chole. In real Pindi channas, no onions, garlic, haldi or Lal Mircha are used. Pl check on it.

  35. The ‘Sud’ which you referred in the Chhole recipe above is actually called ‘Sund’ or ‘Sonth Powder’ and refers to dry Ginger Powder available easily at grocery stores.

  36. Sonth (Dry ginger powder) is a must for Kashmiri Rogan Josh, Tamarind Jaggery chutney (called Sonth itself), Masala Chai … a few items which I know. Sonth generates a lot of heat in the body hence must be used in moderation. Try Masala Chai with Sonth on a rainy day with onion pakore (bajjis)….. yum yum … and feel the real kick which Sonth gives … leave aside the excellent flavours which Sonth gives. I know people who consume Sonth on regular basis in tea … that is bad !

  37. Sitaram Diwan Chand, out of the world, Nowhere you will get chana bhatura like here. If you are foodie , then it’s must to eat Sitaram Diwan Chand’s Channa bhatura.

  38. Lots of fresh grated ginger is better option than sund and freshly ground anardana,roasted cumin ground and garam masala.Never added onions but gravy of tomaoes.Always boil channa with 1or2 black cardamom and some dried amla flakes which are removed after boiling Always add some kala namak in last .My chann come out great.

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