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Punjabi Chole Masala or Chana Masala

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For pressure cooking:

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, white chickpeas, kabuli chana or chole

1 cup

Water for pressure cooking the chickpeas

2½ - 3 cups

Dried amla or indian gooseberry (optional)

2 - 3


½ teaspoonful or as per taste

For the masala gravy:

Medium sized onion, finely chopped


Medium sized tomato, finely chopped


Small garlic cloves - crushed to a paste

2 - 3

Ginger - crushed to a paste

½ inch

Turmeric powder/haldi

¼ teaspoonful

Red chilli powder/lal mirch powder

½ teaspoonful

Garam masala powder (optional)

¼ teaspoonful

Amchur powder/dry mango powder - optional and only to be added when you do not have dry pomegranate seeds

¾ - 1 teaspoonful

Green chillies, slit

2 - 3

Water or the stock in which the chickpeas were cooked.

1 - 1¼ cups


1½ - 2 tablespoonful


As per taste

Spices for the punjabi chole masala:

Black cardamoms/elaichi



1 inch

Peppercorns/sabut kali mirch

3 - 4



Indian bay leaf/tej patta

1 medium or 2 small

Carom seeds/ajwain

¼ teaspoonful

Cumin seeds/jeera

1 teaspoonful

Coriander seeds/dhania

1 teaspoonful

Fennel seeds/saunf

1 teaspoonful

Dry pomegranate seeds/anardana

½ teaspoonful

Dry red chillies

1 - 2

For garnish:

Chopped coriander leaves/dhania patta


Ginger/adrak, julienne

½ inch

Medium onion, sliced or chopped


Medium tomato, sliced or chopped


Lime/nimbu, sliced or quartered


Rinse and soak the chole (chickpeas) in enough water overnight; add enough amount of water as the chole increase in size after soaking it; rinse the soaked chickpeas. To give a dark colour to the chana, traditionally dried amla (indian gooseberries) are added. These also give a faint sourness to the stock. If you do not have dried amla, then add 1 black tea bag.

In a pressure cooker add the chole along with the 3 - 4 dried amla pieces or a tea bag; then add water. Season with salt and pressure cook the chana for 18 - 20 whistles. The chana should be cooked well an softened. The chole should be soft when you mash it with a spoon. The chana should not give you a bite when you eat it.

In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala mentioned above and on a low heat begin to roast them; stir often and roast the spices till they get extra browned. Don't burn them. You have to go beyond a point roasting them even after they become fragrant and they get more browned than what is the norm usually. Let theses roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder. Now the chana will be cooked. You will see a darker brown shade in the safed (white chana). Remove the amla pieces which would have softened by now or the tea bag from the stock. Heat oil in a pan or kadai; add ginger-garlic paste and simmer till their raw aroma goes away. Then add chopped onions and simmer till the onions turn translucent or light brown. Add tomatoes & simmer them till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala; then add the powdered chole masala that we ground, along with the red chilli powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder (optional); stir the dry masala and then add slit green chillies; add the cooked chole; stir well; add salt; then add about 1 to 1¼ cups of the stock in which the chana was boiled. You can also water instead. Stir and cover the chana. Simmer on a low to medium flame. You can also cook without the lid. The gravy will thicken and reduce; mash a few chana. This will help thicken the gravy. Simmer till you get the consistency you prefer. The consistency is not thin, but medium consistency or dry.

In case, you have not added dry pomegranate seeds while roasting the spices, then you need to add amchur powder (dry mango powder) now and stir. Garnish chole masala with coriander leaves and ginger julienne. Serve the punjabi chole with kulchas, bhaturas, pooris, rotis, along with sliced onions, tomatoes and lime. Chole also tastes good with steamed rice or jeera rice.


If you don't have amchur or dried pomegranate seeds then add
lime or lemon juice toward the end.

If cooking chole in the pan or pot then:

You have to take enough water in the pot while cooking the chickpeas. it takes a lot of time though. For 1½ to 2 cups of soaked & drained chickpeas, you can take about 5 - 6 cups of water. Adding a pinch of baking soda in the water along with salt, also helps in the cooking process and the chickpeas become really soft when cooked. You can add about 1 teaspoonful of salt. A little less salt is also alright. I usually add less salt. Cover the pot and cook. If the water starts to become frothy, then remove the lid and cook for some minutes. Remove the scum if there is any while cooking the chickpeas.

You can also use canned chick peas and add them once the tomatoes are simmered.

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