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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.
CHANA MASALA / AMRITSARI CHOLE / PUNJABI CHOLE
Growing up in India, I remember when my mom used to cook this chana masala, I could tell from the distant from its aroma, so unique and flavorful. We used to relish this chickpeas curry with some Indian puffed puris or bhatura.
Chana masala is traditionally, a two-step recipe. First the chickpeas are boiled and then simmered in an onion-tomato base 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, that 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 sauteing the veggies – onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, with some whole spices.
Next adding dry spices – coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, and most important, key ingredient “garam masala”. Garam masala is a blend of whole spices, dry roasted and ground to course 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 extremely flavorful, easy, one-pot meal, with perfect blend of spices, and a complete 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 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 prior to cooking, for good reasons. There are two ways you can soak the beans.
OVERNIGHT SOAKING: Rinse the beans thoroughly, discard any stones, debris or bad beans. Soak in ample water overnight or 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 it 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, 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
INGREDIENTS FOR CHANA MASALA
1 CUP DRIED CHICKPEAS / CHOLE / 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
1/2 TEASPOON TURMERIC POWDER
1/2 TEASPOON RED CHILI POWDER, ADJUST TO TASTE
2 TEASPOON CORIANDER POWDER
1 TEASPOON GARAM MASALA
1 TEASPOON DRY MANGO POWDER(AMCHUR)
1 TEASPOON DRY WHOLE POMEGRANATE SEEDS, COARSELY GROUND
1/8 TEASPOON ASAFOETIDA
1 TEASPOON CUMIN SEEDS (JEERA)
1/4 TEASPOON CARAWAY SEEDS (AJWAIN)
FOR SPICE POUCH
1 TEASPOON TEA LEAVES
1/2 INCH CINNAMON STICKS
2-3 WHOLE CLOVES
HANDFUL OF FRESH CILANTRO, CHOPPED
1 FRESH LEMON OR LIME, CUT INTO WEDGES
FEW ONION SLICES
HOW TO MAKE SPICE POUCH
Spice pouch is added for additional flavor and for dark brown color curry. Spice pouch basically consists of dried tea leaves, black cardamom, green cardamon, small piece of cinnamon stick and some cloves. You can add these whole spices, at the time of sauteing as well, however, I prefer to add it to a spice pouch.
I use this mesh tea ball infuser for making the 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 stove top pressure cooker. I have shared both the ways of cooking in this post.
STEP BY STEP METHOD FOR MAKING CHANA MASALA
Pick any stones, 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.
Pic Shown: Left – dry chickpeas, Right – Overnight soaked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA
Turn ON the saute mode (more), when it displays “HOT”, add oil.
Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaf, onions, saute for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown in color.
Add garlic, 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, 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, pinch of baking soda (optional), salt to taste. Add water, deglaze the pot.
Turn OFF saute mode. Turn ON Pressure cook / Manual mode (high) for 40 minutes with 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, remove the spice pouch.
Using back of your ladle slightly mash the chickpeas. This gives a nice thick, stew like consistency.
Add garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves. Mix well.
Note: If the chickpeas are not soft, pressure cook the chole for few additional minutes.
Pic Shown: Left – chickpeas are soft and tender, perfectly cooked. Right – add garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves.
Turn ON saute 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 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.
STOVE TOP CHANA MASALA
On a stove top pressure cooker, follow the same recipe as discussed for Instant Pot. After the first whistle, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20-25 minutes.
Rest of the recipe is same as Instant Pot.
Pic Shown: Instant pot Chana Masala
PRO TIPS FOR BEST CHANA MASALA
SOAKING THE CHICKPEAS – though pressure cooking the dried beans can be done easily, I personally prefer to soak the chickpeas.
I think soaking the chickpeas allows 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 course 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 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 air-tight container. It will stay fresh for long.
COOKING BEANS – is always very tricky, many a times if the beans are aged or old they take longer to cook even if its 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 – is optional, however, I prefer to use baking soda. It not only cuts back on cooking time but also the chickpeas turn out to be soft, tender, melt-in-mouth.
If using baking soda, cook the chickpeas for 25 minutes, without baking soda cook for 40 minutes.
FAQ FOR CHANA MASALA
WHY SOAK CHICKPEAS – Soaking chickpeas is not required but I prefer to soak the chickpeas prior to cooking for good reasons.
Soaking beans prior to cooking 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 works 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 upto a month. Allow it to cool completely, store it in a 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 milder version, you can skip the red chili powder. However, I highly recommend not to skip on garam masala as it adds tons of flavor to this dish. You can reduce the quantity of garam masala, you still will enjoy great flavors.
CAN I MAKE SPICE POUCH
Yes, instead of tea ball infuser, you can use muslin cloth or cheesecloth to make spice pouch at home. Add all the ingredients in the cloth, and tie a knot. 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
Absolutely, tea gives a nice dark color to chana masala. However, you can totally 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, naan, mixed pickle and onion slices.
TRIED THIS RECIPE ?
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Here are some more recipes from blog. Happy cooking!!
Chana Masala / Chole / Chickpeas Curry - Instant Pot, Stove Top
- 1 cup dried chickpeas / chole / 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
FOR SPICE POUCH
- handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 fresh lemon or lime, cut into wedges
- Pick any stones, 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 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, onions, saute for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are slightly brown in color.
- Add garlic, 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, 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), salt to taste. Add water, deglaze the pot.
- Turn OFF saute mode. Turn ON Pressure cook / Manual mode (high) for 40 minutes with 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, remove the spice pouch.
- Using back of your ladle slightly mash the chickpeas. This gives a nice thick, stew like consistency.Add garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves. Mix well.Note: If the chickpeas are not soft, pressure cook the chole for 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 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.
STOVE TOP CHANA MASALA
- On a stove top pressure cooker, follow the same recipe as discussed for Instant Pot. After the first whistle, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20-25 minutes.Rest of the recipe is same as Instant Pot.
- PRO TIPS FOR BEST CHANA MASALA
- FAQ FOR CHANA MASALA