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Recipe: Punjabi Chole Masala | How to make Chana Masala | Punjabi Chole Masala or Chana Masala
Recipe Punjabi Chole Masala or Chana Masala

To get an authentic taste in the punjabi chole masala, i use dried amla (dried indian gooseberry) and dry pomegranate seeds. The dried amla gives a dark color to the chole, along with a light tang. The pomegranate seeds give a sour taste. Now i know that these two ingredients are not easily available everywhere in india as well as in the world. So as a substitute, when i did not get these, two ingredients, i would add dry mango powder (amchur powder) towards the end. In the absence of amchur powder, you can also squeeze some lime juice towards the end.

If you are not fussy about the dark color, then just plainly cook the chickpeas in water with some salt. A pinch of baking soda added while cooking, makes the chickpeas light and soft. I usually do not add baking soda. What contributes to the flavors and aroma of the chole is the freshly ground chole masala. The spices are roasted till they get extra browned and are later ground. This chole masala is then blended with sauted onion-ginger-tomato mixture. This makes the chole more flavorsome.

There are many variations of making chole like:

  • methi chole
  • palak chole
  • chole with coconut
  • amritsari chole

Recipe Type Veg.

INGREDIENTS (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)

    ingredients for pressure cooking:

  • 1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans, white chickpeas, kabuli chana or chole
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water for pressure cooking the chickpeas
  • 2 to 3 dried amla or indian gooseberry (optional) or 1 black tea bag
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ingredients for the masala gravy:

  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 small garlic cloves + ½ inch ginger, crushed to a paste in a mortar-pestle or ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
  • ½ tsp red chili powder/lal mirch powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • ¾ to 1 tsp amchur powder/dry mango powder - optional and only to be added when you do not have dry pomegranate seeds
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, slit
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water or the stock in which the chickpeas were cooked.
  • 1.5 to 2 tbsp oil
  • salt as required
  • spices for the punjabi chole masala:

  • 2 black cardamoms/elaichi
  • 1 inch cinnamon/dalchini
  • 3 to 4 peppercorns/sabut kali mirch
  • 2 cloves/lavang
  • 1 medium indian bay leaf/tej patta or 2 small tej patta
  • ¼ tsp carom seeds/ajwain
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds/dhania
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
  • ½ tsp dry pomegranate seeds/anardana
  • 1 or 2 dry red chilies
  • for garnish:

  • some chopped coriander leaves/dhania patta
  • ½ inch ginger/adrak, julienne
  • 1 medium onion, sliced or chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced or chopped
  • 1 lime/nimbu, sliced or quartered


  1. 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.
  2. to give a dark color 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.
  3. in a pressure cooker add the chole along with the 3 to 4 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. taj tea bags work very well. then add water
  4. season with salt and pressure cook the chana for 18 to 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.
  5. In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala mentioned above and on a low heat begin to roast them.
  6. 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.
  7. let theses roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder.
  8. by 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.
  9. heat oil in a pan or kadai.add ginger-garlic paste and saute till their raw aroma goes away.
  10. then add chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent or light brown.
  11. add tomatoes & saute them till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala.
  12. then add the powdered chole masala that we ground, along with the red chili powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder (optional).
  13. stir the dry masala and then add slit green chilies
  14. add the cooked chole. stir well.
  15. add salt. then add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the stock in which the chana was boiled. you can also water instead.
  16. stir and cover the chana.
  17. 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.
  18. in case, you have not added dry pomegranate seeds while roasting the spices, then you need to add amchur powder (dry mango powder) now. stir.
  19. garnish chole masala with coriander leaves & ginger julienne.
  20. 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 1.5 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 tsp 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 sauteed.

Recipe Punjabi Chole Masala or Chana Masala


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