May 21, 2012

Punjabi Chole Masala (Channa / Chana / Chickpeas) Recipe

Punjabi chole or chana masala recipe with spices, an aromatic Indian vegetarian recipe made Punjabi-style. 

Although I am always tempted to order chana masala when we out to eat, TH hardly ever agrees, saying "it's something we can make at home". Not that we can't make any of the other dishes at home, but somehow, dal and channa masala is a no-go for him.

Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

While a regular chana masala is delicious in its simplicity and forms the better part of chana bhatura, I also love this Punjabi chole masala for its depth of flavour. Using black cardamom is key and I highly recommend sourcing it if you don't have some in your pantry. For the deep colour of chickpeas in this recipe, I use a tea bag when pressure cooking them which adds the colour but none of the flavour in the final dish - trust me.

Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 4-6
Adapted from: A Mad Tea Party

1.5 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 tea bag (optional)
1/2 tsp of baking soda (optional)
1" piece of ginger, grated
2 onions, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tsp of red chilli powder
2 tbsp of oil
1 tsp of garam masala (I used Kitchen King Masala)
To Dry Roast:
3 tbsp of coriander seeds
A small piece of Indian cinnamon
4 cloves
1 tsp of whole black pepper
3 black cardamom
2 tsp of cumin seeds (jeera)
1 bay leaf
1-2 dry red chillies


1. Drain the soaked chickpeas and rinse it once or twice. Add enough water it cover it by an inch and add the baking soda (I don't generally do this but you can if you want the chickpeas to cook up quicker and softer) and a tea bag (this is for the deep colour which I love in Channa Masala - totally optional). Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or partially cover and cook in a pan until soft.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

2. Dry roast the listed ingredients taking care not to burn any of them. I made the mistake of adding coarsely ground jeera which turned a bit bitter. Don't make that mistake, add whole jeera.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

Cool, grind, and set this masala powder aside.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

3. Heat oil in the same pan and add the grated ginger. Fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

Add the onions next and fry until it turns pink and transparent. Next, add the tomatoes.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

Cook until the onions and tomatoes turn mushy and the oil separates. As Anita says "there isn't much oil to separate here" so just do this for 15 mins or so (if you are impatient like me) and get on with the rest of the process.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

4. Add the ground masala powder, red chilli powder and garam masala to the onion-tomato mixture. Stir well for a few mins until this mixture turns dark and fragrant (I let it cook together for about 3-4 mins).
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

5. Now, add the cooked, drained channa and combine well.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

6. Add about 3 cups of water and salt to this and cook in the open pan for 10-15 mins until your desired consistency is reached. Since I served it with chapati, I wanted it to be a bit on the "watery" side but not too much.
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

You must serve this channa masala with hot chapatis and raw, sliced onions. It tastes fantastic!
Punjabi Chole Masala Recipe

Prop Alert: The battered brass-copper bowl is from FabIndia - Rs. 750
Brown base material is a throw from Ikea

Text art on the first pic by the uber-talented Sindhu.