Chole paneer recipe with step by step photos – spicy and delicious Punjabi curry made with cottage cheese and white chickpeas.
Punjabis love their Rajma masala, Dal makhani, Chole masala and parathas. There are many variations of making chickpea-based recipes and this is one more popular variation of chickpeas with cottage cheese.
This chole paneer does not use any chole masala and nor do you need to grind any masala. Just the regular Indian spices are added to the gravy. The dish is made in less time in a pressure cooker. But you do have to remember to soak the dried chickpeas for 7 to 8 hours or overnight.
Paneer chole goes well with rotis, parathas, pooris or naan or roomali roti. Also serve some onion slices and lemon wedges as a side accompaniment.
How to make chole paneer
1. soak 1 cup dried white chickpeas/kabuli chana or safed chole in enough water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours. 1 cup chickpeas is equal to 200 grams of chickpeas in weight. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas in water and keep aside.
2. The following spices-herbs will be added while cooking the chickpeas – in clockwise order: 1 tsp salt, 2 black cardamoms, 2 inch cinnamon, 3 dried amla (Indian gooseberry) pieces (substitute 1 black tea bag in place of amla), 2 small tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and 1 tsp ginger paste. You can skip the amla and the tea bag completely if you don’t have them.
3. take the spices-herbs and the chickpeas in the pressure cooker. Add 3 cups water. Stir.
4. cover tightly and pressure cook the chickpeas for 10 to 12 whistles.
5. the chickpeas should be cooked well. There should not be any bite in the chickpeas. They should have a soft melt in the mouth texture. Discard the softened amla pieces or tea bag and keep the cooked chickpeas along with the stock aside. If the chickpeas are not cooked, then pressure cook them again for 3 to 4 whistles or more and adding some water if required.
6. in another pan or kadai, heat 2 tbsp oil and add ½ cup chopped onions.
7. stir and saute on a low to medium flame, till the onions are translucent or light golden.
8. then add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste. Stir and saute for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
9. add ¾ cup chopped tomatoes.
10. stir the tomatoes.
11. saute the tomatoes, till they soften.
12. Add the spice powders – 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp garam masala & ½ tsp turmeric powder.
13. stir and saute for a minute.
14. add the cooked chickpeas along with its spices.
15. stir well.
16. then add 2 or 3 slit green chilies. Stir.
17. add 1 cup of the stock or stock+water.
18. season with salt as required. Do keep in mind, that 1 tsp of salt was added to the stock.
19. on a medium flame, bring the gravy to a simmer.
20. the gravy should thicken slightly. Mash a few chole or chickpeas with the back of the spoon. This helps in thickening the gravy.
21. here the gravy has thickened enough.
22. Now add paneer cubes (125 to 150 grams of paneer), ½ tsp crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and 1 tsp amchur powder. Amchur or dry mango powder can be added according to one’s taste.
23. stir and simmer the paneer for about 2 minutes on a low flame.
24. switch off the flame and add 1 or 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and some ginger julienne. You can also garnish chole paneer with the coriander leaves and ginger julienne instead of adding them.
25. stir finally and Serve the paneer chole with rotis or parathas or pooris or tandoori roti or naan bread. Also serve some onion slices and lemon wedges as a side accompaniment.
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For cooking chickpeas
- 1 cup dried white chickpeas - 200 grams
- enough water - for soaking chickpeas
- 3 cups water - for pressure cooking chickpeas
- 2 small tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 2 inches cinnamon
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 to 4 dried Indian gooseberries (amla) or 1 black tea bag (optional)
- 2 tablespoons oil - any neutral oil
- ½ cup chopped onions or 1 medium-sized
- ¾ cup chopped tomatoes 2 medium to large
- 100 to 150 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- 2 to 3 green chillies - slit
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 cup water or add as required
- salt as required
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- ½ inch ginger - julienne
- Soak the dried white chickpeas in enough water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas in water and set aside.
- Take the chickpeas along with the salt, black cardamoms, cinnamon, dried amla pieces (substitute one black tea bag in place of amla), tej patta and ginger paste in the pressure cooker. Add 3 cups water and stir.
- Cover tightly and pressure cook the chickpeas for 10 to 12 whistles or 12 to 15 minutes on medium to medium-high heat.
- Let the pressure fall completely in the cooker and then open the lid.
- The chickpeas should be cooked well. There should not be any bite in the chickpeas. They should have a soft melt in the mouth texture.
- Discard the softened amla pieces or tea bag and keep the cooked chickpeas along with the stock aside.
Sautéing onions, tomatoes and spices
- In another pan or kadai, heat oil and add the chopped onions.
- Stir and saute on a low to medium flame, till the onions are translucent or light golden.
- Then add ginger-garlic paste. Stir and sauté for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
- Add chopped tomatoes. Stir the tomatoes. Sauté the tomatoes, till they soften.
- Add the spice powders - coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and turmeric powder.
- Stir and saute for a minute.
Making chole paneer
- Add the cooked chickpeas along with its spices. Stir well.
- Then add 2 or 3 slit green chilies. Stir.
- Add 1 cup of the stock or stock+water.
- Season with salt as required. Do keep in mind, that 1 tsp of salt was added to the stock.
- On a medium flame, bring the gravy to a simmer.
- The gravy should thicken slightly. Mash a few chickpeas with the back of the spoon. This helps in thickening the gravy.
- Now add paneer cubes , kasuri methi and amchur powder. Dry mango powder or amchur can be added according to one's taste.
- Stir and simmer the paneer for about 2 minutes on a low flame.
- Switch off the flame and add the chopped coriander leaves and some ginger julienne. You can also garnish with the coriander leaves and ginger julienne instead of adding them.
- Stir finally and serve the paneer chole with roti, poori, parathas or naan. Also serve some onion slices and lemon wedges as a side accompaniment.
- Store any leftovers in a covered container for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
- Chickpeas: Use chickpeas that are in their shelf-life. Avoid using aged chickpeas as they take a long time to cook and do not give good results. You can sub canned chickpeas in this recipe.
- Paneer: I suggest to use homemade paneer. If using frozen paneer, then follow the instructions mentioned on the pack before adding them to the gravy.
- Soaking chickpeas: For the best taste and texture in the chickpeas, remember to soak them overnight or for 8 to 9 hours. If you have no time or forgotten to soak chickpeas, soak them in hot water for two to three hours.
- Boiling chickpeas in Instant Pot: Add the spices, salt, dried amla pieces, ginger paste, water and chickpeas in the steel insert of your Instant pot. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes on high pressure. Wait until all the pressure releases naturally before opening the lid.
- Boiling chickpeas in a pan: For cooking chickpeas in a pan, it is better to use a deep pan or pot. Add all the ingredients in the pan. Pour 3 to 4 cups water. Cover and boil chickpeas on medium to medium-high heat until they become tender and softened well. If the water starts to froth, cover the lid partially or remove it.
- Consistency: You can opt for a thick or medium gravy in the recipe by adding less or more water. But do not make the gravy thin or runny as it will dilute the flavors.
- Spicing: To make this recipe, suit your spice levels, you can alter the amount of green chillies and red chilli powder.
- Dried amla: Dried Indian gooseberries help in darkening the color of chickpeas. They also add some light sour notes to the chickpeas and the water in which the chickpeas were cooked. If you do not have dried amla, to get that dark color, add 1 black tea bag. But here do not use this stock (cooked water of the chickpeas) later to be added to the gravy as the tea flavor will be there. You can skip the dried amla and the tea bag altogether.
- Dry mango powder: Chana curries always have some sour or tangy taste to them. Dry mango powder gives a slight tart taste. Swap it with 1 teaspoon dry pomegranate seeds powder or 1 teaspoon lemon juice. For lemon juice add it once the cooking is complete.
- Vegan option: Do not add the paneer and simply make the recipe as it is with the rest of the ingredients. In place of paneer, you can use tofu if you prefer.