Chickpeas are inescapably omnipresent in North Indian cuisine. You'll find them stuffed in samosas: accompanied by bhature, a puffy, stretchy bread; or dressed in onions and yogurt as a street snack. We Krishnas enjoy our chickpeas as a thick, tomato-y stew -- but my mom doesn't make it too often, as dry chickpeas take a very long time to cook. Enter: this shortcut recipe, which my mom emailed to me during a particularly cold and sad winter when I was in college. With canned chickpeas, a few strategic whole spices (don't skip the cinnamon stick!), and yogurt to thicken the broth, this stew somehow manages the richness and complexity of a dish that's been cooking for hours. The first time I made this, I had just broken my wrist ice skating and was wearing a cast. The turmeric got all up in the fabric of the sweaty cast, and my hand ended up smelling like burnt garbage for a full month. But for this chhole -- it was totally worth it!
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the cumin seeds and fenugreek and cook, stirring, until they turn a medium shade of brown, no more than 30 seconds. Add the turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon stick and cook for another minute, until the turmeric has mostly dissolved into the oil and the spices become very fragrant. Toss in the onion and ginger and saute until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, and cook until they have fully wilted, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the chickpeas, lime juice, yogurt, and salt. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash the chickpeas slightly so they become incorporated with the sauce (but don't go too crazy -- you want to leave the chickpeas relatively intact). Cook, uncovered, until the chickpeas have taken on a soft, baked potato-like texture, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Garnish with the cilantro before serving.