Chana Masala

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Chana Masala, also known as chole or chickpeas curry, is a popular North Indian dish. Simple curry made with chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and some aromatic Indian spices. Hearty, healthy, plant-based protein diet. This recipe is VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE.

 

Instant Pot Chana Masala

 

CHANA MASALA [PUNJABI CHOLE]

Growing up in India, I remember when my mom used to cook this chana masala, I could tell from the distance from its aroma, so unique and flavorful. We used to relish this chickpeas curry with some Indian puffed puris or bhatura.

Chana masala is traditional, a two-step recipe. First, the chickpeas are boiled and then simmered in an onion-tomato-based sauce or gravy, until it reaches a stew-like consistency.

There are many ways this recipe can be made, today I am sharing my mom’s recipe, which I grew up devouring. It’s the best and I must say an authentic preparation of chana masala.

The key to making a delicious chana masala is how flavorful the sauce or gravy is. It starts with sautéing the veggies – onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, with some whole spices.

Next add dry spices – coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, and most importantly, the key ingredient “garam masala”. Garam masala is a blend of whole spices, dry roasted, and ground to a coarse powder. I prefer to use homemade garam masala, however, the store-bought one works just fine.

Alternatively, you can also use some store-bought “chana masala”. I prefer to use the homemade garam masala, works wonders in this recipe.

Finish it off with some dried mango powder (amchur, or amchoor) for the tanginess and some crushed dried pomegranate seeds (anardana).

Enjoy this thick, stew-like consistency curry that’s an extremely flavorful, easy, one-pot meal, with the perfect blend of spices, and a completely hearty, healthy plant-based meal.

Serve this chana masala with some Naan, puffed puris, or with some steamed white/brown rice or some cauliflower rice for a gluten-free option. You can also pair it with some Aloo Gobi (cauliflower potato curry) as a side dish.

PREP FOR CHANA MASALA 

Soaking the beans is optional. However, I always prefer to soak the beans before cooking, for good reasons. There are two ways you can soak the beans.

OVERNIGHT SOAKING

Rinse the beans thoroughly, and discard any stones, debris, or bad beans. Soak in ample water overnight or a minimum of 8 hours.

When beans re-hydrate they almost double in size. I soak one cup of beans in 3 cups of water, thus making sure there is enough water for the beans to re-hydrate.

QUICK SOAKING 

There are times when I forget to soak the beans and still what to make for dinner. How do I do it? Yes, you can still easily cook the beans. I find this method very helpful.

Add beans and water to a pot, and bring it to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat. Cover and let it sit in hot water for an hour. After 1 hour, the beans will be ready to be cooked.

CHOP ALL THE VEGGIES

Chop onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic

Pic Shown: Chana Masala [Punjabi Chole]

 

Instant Pot Chana Masala

 

INGREDIENTS FOR CHANA MASALA 

1 cup dried chickpeas [garbanzo beans] 

3 cups water; For soaking the beans overnight

1 medium onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium tomato, puree or 1/4 cup canned tomato puree

1-inch ginger, chopped

1-2 green chili, chopped; adjust to taste

3 tablespoon oil

1 3/4 cups water; For pressure cooking

1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)

salt; adjust to taste

DRY SPICES

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder; adjust to taste 

1 teaspoon garam masala 

2 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur)

1 teaspoon dry whole pomegranate seeds, coarsely ground

1/8 teaspoon asafoetida 

WHOLE SPICES

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds (ajwain)

 1 dried bay leaf 

FOR SPICE POUCH

1 teaspoon tea leaves (optional)

1 whole black cardamom 

2   whole green cardamom 

1/2 inch cinnamon sticks 

2-3 whole cloves

FOR GARNISH

A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 fresh lemon or lime, cut into wedges

Few onion slices

Pic Shown: Chana Masala [Punjabi Chole]

 

Instant Pot Chana Masala

 

HOW TO MAKE SPICE POUCH

A spice pouch is added for additional flavor and dark brown color curry. The spice pouch consists of dried tea leaves, black cardamom, green cardamom, a small piece of cinnamon stick, and some cloves. You can add these whole spices, at the time of sautéing as well, however, I prefer to add them to a spice pouch. 

I use this mesh tea ball infuser for making the spice pouch.

 

Pic Shown: Spice Pouch

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO COOK CHANA MASALA

Making chana masala requires some pre-planning and some prep work. The rest of the process is quite simple and pretty straightforward.

Once you have soaked chickpeas and have all the veggies chopped, you can make this chana masala in under an hour.

You can make chana masala in Instant Pot or on a stovetop pressure cooker. I have shared both the ways of cooking in this post.

PREP FOR CHANA MASALA

Pick any stones or debris from the chickpeas. Rinse the chickpeas couple of times. Soak the chickpeas in 3 cups of water overnight.

Drain, and rinse the soaked chickpeas. Chop all the veggies – onion, garlic, tomatoes, ginger, green chili.

INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA

Turn ON the sauté mode (more), when it displays “HOT”, add oil.

Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and onions,  and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown.

Add garlic, and sauté for a minute or so, until the raw smell of the garlic is no more.

Now add tomato puree, ginger, green chili, dry spices – coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, dried mango powder, coarsely ground pomegranate seeds, and salt to taste.

Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until the oil starts to separate from the tomato puree.

Add the drained and rinsed, chickpeas, spice pouch, a pinch of baking soda (optional), and salt to taste. Add water, and deglaze the pot.

Turn OFF sauté mode. Turn ON Pressure cook / Manual mode (high) for 40 minutes with a vent on sealing position. If using baking soda, reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes.

When the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally, around 10 minutes.

Open Instant Pot, and remove the spice pouch. 

Using the back of your ladle slightly mash the chickpeas. This gives a nice thick, stew-like consistency.

Add garam masala, and dried fenugreek leaves. Mix well.

Note: If the chickpeas are not soft, pressure cooks the chole for a few additional minutes.

Turn ON sauté mode, mix well. Bring it to a gentle boil, around 2-3 minutes.

Pic Shown: Chana Masala is ready to be devoured!!

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more chili powder for heat or dry mango powder for a tangy flavor. You can also add some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Turn OFF sauté mode. Garnish with some fresh cilantro, some onion slices, and lemon wedges. Serve hot with naan, bhatura (Indian fried flatbread), or over steamed white rice.

Pic Shown: Instant Pot Chana Masala 

Instant Pot Chana Masala

 

STOVETOP CHANA MASALA

Heat oil in the pressure cooker on medium-high heat.

Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and onions,  and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown.

Add garlic, and sauté for a minute or so, until the raw smell of the garlic is no more.

Now add tomato puree, ginger, green chili, dry spices – coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, dried mango powder, coarsely ground pomegranate seeds, and salt to taste.

Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until the oil starts to separate from the tomato puree.

Add the drained and rinsed, chickpeas, spice pouch, a pinch of baking soda (optional), and salt to taste. Add water, and deglaze the pot.

Close the pressure cooker with weights on and pressure cook on high. After the first whistle, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 35-40 minutes.

Note: If using baking soda, reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes.

Allow the pressure to release naturally, around 20 minutes.

Open the pressure cooker, and remove the spice pouch.

Using the back of your ladle slightly mash the chickpeas. This gives a nice thick, stew-like consistency.

Add garam masala, and dried fenugreek leaves. Mix well.

Note: If the chickpeas are not soft, pressure cooks the chole for a few additional minutes.

Bring chana masala to a gentle boil, around 2-3 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more chili powder for heat or dry mango powder for a tangy flavor. You can also add some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Turn OFF the heat. Garnish with some fresh cilantro, some onion slices, and lemon wedges. Serve hot with naan, bhatura (Indian fried flatbread), or over steamed white rice.

PRO TIPS FOR BEST CHANA MASALA

SOAKING THE CHICKPEAS 

Though pressure cooking the dried beans can be done easily, I prefer to soak the chickpeas.

I think soaking the chickpeas allows for a more even and softer texture and also beans absorb flavors well as compared to the dried ones.

GARAM MASALA

Garam masala is a unique blend of spices, dry roasted, and grind to a coarse powder. Freshly ground garam masala adds a whole lot of flavors as compared to the packed, store-bought ones.

I prefer homemade garam masala, it is very easy to make and with just a few ingredients, and honestly, in less than 10 minutes, you can make this fresh, aromatic garam masala at home.

You can make garam masala in a small quantity and store it in an air-tight container. It will stay fresh for a long.

COOKING TIME

Cooking beans is always very tricky, many times if the beans are aged or old they take longer to cook even if it’s been soaked overnight.

If the beans are not cooked in the recommended cooking time, allow extra 5-10 minutes of pressure cooking time.

BAKING SODA 

Baking soda is optional. I prefer to use baking soda. It helps cut back on the cooking time and the chickpeas turn out soft, tender, melt-in-mouth. 

If using baking soda, cook the chickpeas for 25 minutes, without baking soda cook for 40 minutes.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY SOAK CHICKPEAS 

Soaking chickpeas is not required but I prefer to soak the chickpeas before cooking for good reasons. It helps break down some of the complex sugars that can make beans hard for some people to digest.

Soaking the beans reduces the cooking times and also cleans them more thoroughly (since beans cannot be washed before being sold or they can turn moldy).

CAN I USE CANNED CHICKPEAS 

Yes, canned chickpeas work just fine. However, if using canned chickpeas, reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes. Since chickpeas are already cooked, all it needs is to absorb the flavors from the sauce/gravy.

Also, reduce the amount of water to half, since you only need water for the sauce/gravy.

CAN I DOUBLE THIS RECIPE

Yes, you can double this recipe. Simply double all the ingredients. However, the cooking time remains the same.

CAN I FREEZE CHANA MASALA 

Yes, You can freeze Chana Masala for up to a month. Allow it to cool completely, and store it in air-tight freezer-safe containers or Ziploc bags.

Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight, reheat and serve.

HOW TO ADJUST THE SPICINESS IN CHANA MASALA

Chili powder and garam masala contribute to the spiciness of this dish. You can increase or decrease the spiciness by adding more or less of these two spices.

For a milder version, you can skip the red chili powder. However, I highly recommend not skipping on garam masala as it adds tons of flavor to this dish. You can reduce the quantity of garam masala, but you still will enjoy great flavors.

CAN I MAKE SPICE POUCH

Yes, instead of a tea ball infuser, you can use muslin cloth or cheesecloth to make a spice pouch at home. Add all the ingredients to the cloth, and tie a knot. The spice pouch is ready to be used.

CAN I USE TEA BAGS 

Yes, you can use tea bags instead of loose tea leaves. Just add 1-2 tea bags while pressure cooking. Remove the tea bags once the chickpeas are pressure cooked.

CAN I SKIP TEA

Tea gives a nice dark color to chana masala. However, you can skip it and the chana masala will still taste great.

HOW TO SERVE CHANA MASALA

Chana masala goes well with naan,  Indian fried bread puri, bhatura, or even with steamed white rice. Enjoy!!

Pic Shown: Chana Masala, Boondi Raita, and salad.

 

Instant Pot Chana Masala

 

 

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Instant Pot Chana Masala

Chana Masala [Punjabi Chole]

Jyoti Behrani
Chana Masala, also known as chole or chickpeas curry, is a popular North Indian dish. Simple curry made with chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and some aromatic Indian spices. Hearty, healthy, plant-based protein diet. This recipe is gluten-free and vegan.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas [garbanzo beans]
  • 3 cups water; For soaking the beans overnight
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped or 1/4 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 1-2 green chili, chopped, adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • 1 3/4 cups water for pressure cooking
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
  • salt to taste

DRY SPICES

WHOLE SPICES

FOR SPICE POUCH

FOR GARNISH

  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 fresh lemon or lime, cut into wedges

Instructions
 

  • Pick any stones, or debris from the chickpeas. Rinse the chickpeas couple of times. Soak the chickpeas in 3 cups of water overnight.
  • Drain, and rinse the soaked chickpeas.

MAKE SPICE POUCH

  • You will need Tea Ball Infuser
  • Add all the ingredients listed under the spice pouch into the tea ball infuser.

INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA

  • Turn ON the saute mode (more), when it displays “HOT”, add oil.
  • Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and onions,  and saute for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown.
  • Add garlic, and saute for a minute or so, until the raw smell of the garlic is no more.
  • Now add tomato puree, ginger, green chili, dry spices – coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, dried mango powder, coarsely ground pomegranate seeds, and salt to taste.
  • Saute for another 3-5 minutes or until the oil starts to separate from the tomato puree.
  • Add the drained and rinsed, chickpeas, spice pouch, baking soda (optional), and salt to taste. Add water, and deglaze the pot.
  • Turn OFF saute mode. Turn ON Pressure cook / Manual mode (high) for 40 minutes with a vent on sealing position.
    Note: If using baking soda, reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes.
  • When the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally, around 10 minutes. Open Instant Pot, and remove the spice pouch. 
  • Using the back of your ladle slightly mash the chickpeas. This gives a nice thick, stew-like consistency.
    Add garam masala, and dried fenugreek leaves. Mix well.
    Note: If the chickpeas are not soft, pressure cook the chole for a few additional minutes.
  • Turn ON saute mode, mix well. Bring it to a gentle boil, around 2-3 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more chili powder for heat or dry mango powder for a tangy flavor. You can also add some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Turn OFF saute mode. Garnish with some fresh cilantro, some onion slices, and lemon wedges. Serve hot with naan, bhatura (Indian fried flatbread), or over steamed white rice.

STOVETOP PRESSURE COOKER CHANA MASALA

  • Heat oil in the pressure cooker on medium-high heat.
  • Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and onions,  and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown.
  • Add garlic, and sauté for a minute or so, until the raw smell of the garlic is no more.
  • Now add tomato puree, ginger, green chili, dry spices - coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, dried mango powder, coarsely ground pomegranate seeds, and salt to taste.
  • Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until the oil starts to separate from the tomato puree.
  • Add the drained and rinsed, chickpeas, spice pouch, a pinch of baking soda (optional), and salt to taste. Add water, and deglaze the pot.
  • Close the pressure cooker with weights on and pressure cook on high. After the first whistle, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 35-40 minutes.
    Note: If using baking soda, reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally, around 20 minutes. Open the pressure cooker, and remove the spice pouch.
  • Using the back of your ladle slightly mash the chickpeas. This gives a nice thick, stew-like consistency.
    Add garam masala, and dried fenugreek leaves. Mix well.
    Note: If the chickpeas are not soft, pressure cooks the chole for a few additional minutes.
  • Bring chana masala to a gentle boil, around 2-3 minutes.
    Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more chili powder for heat or dry mango powder for a tangy flavor. You can also add some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Turn OFF the heat. Garnish with some fresh cilantro, some onion slices, and lemon wedges. Serve hot with naan, bhatura (Indian fried flatbread), or over steamed white rice.

Notes

Please refer to the post for the following:
  1. Pro Tips For Best Chana Masala
  2. Frequently Asked Questions
Keyword best chana masala recipe, chana masala, chana masala instant pot, chana masala recipe, chana masala vegan, chickpeas curry, chole, pressure cooker chana masala, punjabi chole

 

 

 

Jyoti Behrani

Hello!! Welcome to my blog, my journey Living Smart and Healthy! Cook with me easy and authentic Indian food and around the globe. Will be sharing tips and tricks on easy authentic cooking, without spending hours in the kitchen or comprising on authentic flavors. Keeping things simple and healthy is what I am all about. Life is simple, so lets keep cooking simple too!!

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