The Many Legends Behind The Origin Of Chole Bhature

Grab your plate of piping hot chole bhature while you skim through the history of North India's favourite delicacy. This blend of legends is an insight into the dish's journey to Delhi
A plate of Chole Bhature
A plate of Chole BhatureShutterstock

The connection between Delhi and its chole bhature is a unique love affair. Each year, as the chilly winter settles in, hundreds seek solace in a comforting bowl of spicy chana (chickpeas) paired with bhature (deep- fried breads), pickles and salad. Beyond its culinary excellence, this dish mirrors Delhi's cultural heritage, which dates back to the Mughal era.

An evening stroll in a popular market, and you will see the streets dotted with many stalls serving the delicacy piping hot. But did you know that the origin of this popular North Indian street food has many versions and folklore that eventually brought it to the capital's lanes?

The Mughal Connect

With the expansion of trade routes in ancient times, Chana Masala (flavoured chickpeas) arrived in India alongside spices and other culinary practices. It is believed that the Mughal rulers introduced this dish to the Indian subcontinent. Renowned for their love for flavours, the Mughals carried a culinary heritage that combined techniques and tastes from Persian, Turkish, and Indian culinary traditions.

For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

The Partition Tale: Journey To Delhi

There are various tales about how chole bhature made its way to Delhi, but the most widely accepted story is linked to the partition of India in 1947. The partition wasn't merely a division; it separated cultures, families, and love, leaving a lasting impact.

Many migrated from Pakistan to India during those challenging times, including Peshori Lal Lamba. He left Lahore, his hometown, and began anew in Delhi, where he set up the now-iconic Kwality restaurant in Connaught Place. The legend goes that culinary connection offered comfort during turbulent times.

Lamba is believed to have begun selling chole before pairing it with bhature. He is also considered the first man to introduce the concept of bhature.

The Legend Of Sita Ram

Another common narrative claims that Sita Ram, the founder of Sita Ram Diwan Chand, introduced chole bhature. The legend goes that Sita Ram migrated to Delhi with his son Diwan Chand. Their very first plate of chole bhature was priced at 12 annas. This initial success paved the way for the growth of their business.

According to their website, Sita Ram started the chole bhature venture alongside Diwan Chand, initially on a bicycle in 1950. Their stall swiftly became a sought-after destination opposite DAV School, drawing students and locals. Later around 1980, the shop was moved to the bustling lanes of Paharganj, where it remains operational. Today, their chole-bhature empire is spread across different parts of Delhi.

From North To South

Chole bhature has unexpectedly gained popularity in South India, with several Udipi restaurants offering it and strengthening its legacy among North and South Indian connoisseurs.

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