chole recipe | authentic punjabi chana masala

Chole recipe with step by step photos – this chana masala is made with white chickpeas, freshly powdered spices, onions, tomatoes and herbs.

This is one easy and yet lip smacking Punjabi chana masala recipe which tastes awesome. It is one of the most tried and tested delicious chole recipe on the blog. It has been tried not only by me innumerable times, but also by many readers.

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chana masala recipe, chole recipe, how to make chana masala

There are many variations of making chole masala. But I liked this Punjabi chole recipe the most. It tastes like the Punjabi chole you get in the streets of Delhi and Punjab. 

The chole recipe has been adapted from Anita’s blog. over a period of six years from the time I adapted this recipe, I made some changes in proportions as well as ingredients. After so many changes, here is a recipe that gives a good balance of spiciness, taste and flavor. so I decided to update this in the post too.

The original chole recipe on this blog was published on aug 20 2009. Its 8 years now and I have now updated the recipe with the variations and with step by step pics. However, keeping the old pic of the spices I took with mobile when I started the blog in 2009, just as a memoir.

spices for Punjabi chole recipe

Chole bhature is mine and the family’s favorite dish. When living in Delhi and gurgaon, we would get awesome chole bhature In many places. Since I do not live in these places any more, I make this recipe often which tastes exactly like the street side chole, minus the heat. Since we don’t prefer too spicy food. But you can increase the quantity of red chili powder and garam masala powder to get the extra spice and heat.

Serve this delicious chana masala with tandoori rotis or phulka or kulcha or bhaturas or poori or naan, along with sliced onions and lime. It also tastes good with plain rice or jeera rice.

How to make chana masala

For ease of understanding, I have divided this post into 3 steps.

  • Step 1 – soaking and cooking chickpeas
  • Step 2 – roasting spices to make chole masala powder
  • Step 3 – making chole gravy

Lets begin with step 1 – soaking and pressure cooking chickpeas

1. Wash and soak 1 cup chickpeas (chana or chole) in enough water overnight. Add enough amount of water as the chickpeas increase in size after soaking it. Rinse the soaked chickpeas in water. Pic of rinsed & soaked chickpeas.

soaked and rinsed chole or chickpeas

2. To give a dark color to the chickpeas, 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. You can also just cook the chickpeas with salt and water.

dried amla for chole recipe

3. In a pressure cooker add the chickpeas along with the 2 to 3 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. Taj tea bags work very well. Then pour 2.5 to 3 cups water.

making chole masala recipe

4. Season with ½ tsp salt. Stir very well.

season with salt

5. Pressure cook the chickpeas for 12 to 15 whistles. The chickpeas should be cooked well an softened. The chickpeas should be soft when you mash it with a spoon. The chickpeas should not give you a bite when you eat it. If you do not have a pressure cooker, then cook the chickpeas in a pot with plenty of water. Depending on the quality of chickpeas, it can take less or more time.

making chana masala recipe

Making chole masala powder

6. Meanwhile, in a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala and on a low heat begin to roast them. The spices used for masala are following:

  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 to 4 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 medium Indian bay leaf/tej patta or 2 small tej patta
  • ¼ tsp carom seeds/ajwain
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp dry pomegranate seeds
  • 1 or 2 dry red chilies

whole spices of chole masala

7. 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.

roasting spices for chole masala or chana masala

8. The extra browned & roasted spices below.

roasted chana masala or chole masala

9. let these roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder.

ground chana masala or chole masala powder

10. By now the chickpeas is cooked. Pic below. You will see a darker brown shade in the white chickpeas. Remove the amla pieces which would have softened by now or the tea bag from the stock.

cooked chana or chole or chickpeas

Making chole masala

11. heat 1.5 to 2 tbsp oil in a pan or kadai. add ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste and saute till their raw aroma goes away.

making Punjabi chole masala

12. then add 1 medium sized finely chopped onion and saute till the onions turn translucent or light brown.

making chana masala recipe

13. add 1 medium sized finely chopped tomato.

making chole masala recipe

14. saute the tomatoes till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala.

making chole masala recipe

15. then add the powdered spices that we made, along with ½ tsp red chili powder and ¼ tsp turmeric powder.

adding chole masala or chana masala powder

16. Stir well. Then add 2 to 3 slit green chilies to the onion-ginger-tomato mixture.

Punjabi chole masala recipe

17. Add the cooked & drained chickpeas. Reserve the stock.

add the chole or chana or chickpeas

18. stir well.

stir the chana masala

19. Season with salt as per requirement. Stir. Keep the addition of salt in check as salt is also there in the stock.

add salt to the Punjabi chole masala

20. Add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the reserved stock or water. Stir well.

making chole recipe

Cooking Chole

21. Cover and simmer on a low to medium flame. You can also cook chickpeas without the lid. The gravy will thicken and reduce. Mash a few chickpeas. This will help thicken the gravy. You can keep the consistency you prefer. At home, we prefer chole with a bit of gravy.

making chole recipe

22. In case, you have not added dry pomegranate seeds while roasting the spices, then you need to add amchur powder (dry mango powder) now. About 1 tsp amchur powder is enough. However, you can add less or more of it as per your taste. Stir the gravy very well.

simmering Punjabi chole masala

23. The chana masala is ready to be served.

chana masala ready to be served

24. Garnish with chopped onions and coriander leaves. Serve the Punjabi chole with kulcha or bhaturas or aloo bhatura or poori or naan or roti, along with sliced onions and lime. It also tastes good with plain rice or jeera rice.

Punjabi chana masala recipe

Tips to make Punjabi Chana 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 chhole 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 sauteed onion-ginger-tomato mixture. This makes the chhole more flavorsome.

More tasty Punjabi recipes

STEP BY STEP PHOTOS ABOVEMany of my recipes have detailed step by step photos and useful tips to help you make it easily and perfectly.

Chole Recipe | Chana Masala

4.88 from 88 votes
One of the best chhole recipe that you can make. This chana masala is made with freshly powdered spices, onions, tomatoes, herbs making the chickpeas taste like the ones you get on the streets of Delhi. 
chana masala
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:9 hrs
Cook Time:45 mins
Total Time:9 hrs 45 mins
Course:main course
Cuisine:north indian
Diet:vegetarian
Servings (change the number to scale):5
(1 CUP = 250 ML)

Ingredients

for pressure cooking white chickpeas

  • 1 cup dried white chickpeas or 200 grams white chickpeas (garbanzo beans, kabuli chana or safed chole)
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water for pressure cooking the chickpeas
  • 2 to 3 dried amla or indian gooseberry or 1 black tea bag, optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt or add as required

ingredients for 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 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder optional
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon 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 tablespoon oil
  • salt as required

spices for chole masala powder

  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 to 4 black peppers
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 medium sized tej patta (indian bay leaf) or 2 small tej patta
  • ¼ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon dry pomegranate seeds
  • 1 to 2 kashmiri dry red chilies

for garnishing

  • some chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
  • ½ inch ginger julienne
  • 1 medium onion sliced or chopped
  • 1 medium tomato sliced or chopped
  • 1 lime sliced or quartered

Instructions

soaking and cooking white chickpeas

  • Rinse and soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight. Add enough amount of water as the chickpeas increase in size after soaking it. Rinse the soaked chickpeas.
  • To give a dark color to the chickpeas, 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 chickpeas along with the 3 to 4 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. Taj tea bags work very well. Then add water
  • Season with salt and pressure cook the chickpeas for 12 to 15 whistles. The chickpeas should be cooked well and softened. The chickpeas should be soft when you mash it with a spoon. The chickpeas should not give you a bite when you eat it.

roasting spices

  • In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala powder 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 these roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder.
  • 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.

making chole masala

  • Heat oil in a pan or kadai. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till their raw aroma goes away.
  • Then add chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent or light brown.
  • Add tomatoes & saute 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 chili powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder (optional).
  • Stir the dry masala and then add slit green chilies
  • Add the cooked chole. Stir well.
  • Add salt. Then add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the stock in which the chana was boiled. You can also add water instead.
  • Stir and cover the chana.

cooking chole masala

  • Simmer on a low to medium flame. You can also cook without the lid. 
  • The gravy will thicken and reduce. Mash a few chickpeas. This will help thicken the gravy. 
  • Simmer till you get the consistency you prefer. The consistency of this chhole recipe 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. Stir the gravy well.
  • Garnish it with coriander leaves & ginger julienne.
  • Serve the Punjabi chana masala with kulchas, bhaturas, pooris, rotis, along with sliced onions, tomatoes and lime. 
  • It also tastes good with steamed rice or jeera rice.

Notes

  1. If you don't have amchur or dried pomegranate seeds then add lime or lemon juice toward the end.
  2. You can also use canned chickpeas and add them once the tomatoes are sauteed.

If cooking chickpeas in the pan or pot then:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. You can add about 1 tsp of salt. A little less salt is also alright. I usually add less salt.
  4. Cover the pot and cook the chickpeas. If the water starts to become frothy, then remove the lid and cook chickpeas for some minutes. Remove the scum if there is any while cooking the chickpeas.

Nutrition Info (approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Chole Recipe | Chana Masala
Amount Per Serving
Calories 237 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Sodium 321mg14%
Potassium 597mg17%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 580IU12%
Vitamin C 30.8mg37%
Calcium 86mg9%
Iron 3.5mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Dassana Amit

Dassana Amitnamaste and welcome to vegrecipesofindia.com which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

Comments are closed.

465 comments/reviews

  1. Best one5 stars

  2. is there any way to make the chole masala mix with ground spices (and forgo the toasting/grinding step)? what conversions would you recommend from whole to ground spice? thank you!

    • you can try, but masala made with freshly roasted and ground spices have a different flavor & taste than the ones made with premade ground spices. difficult to tell the proportions and each spice has to be ground separately and then measured.

  3. Hii dassana..wanted to know if am using readymade chole masala so how much tsp or tablespoon i need to add?

    • hi rizwana, you can add 2 to 3 teaspoons readymade chole masala.

  4. I have lost count of how many times I’ve made this! I love it, my family loves it and best of all, it’s so delicious while being so nutritious. It pairs very well with chapati/roti/rice but my favourite way of eating is a big bowl of chhole with some cold dahi. It’s fabulous. Thank you so much for the recipe!5 stars

    • thanks a lot vinita. so glad to read your comment. this chole recipe is so good, that it tastes great with chapati, rice, roti and even bread. sometimes i make aloo tikki and serve extra chole masala with it. most welcome and happy cooking.

  5. Another amazing recipe! Thank you!5 stars

    • welcome and thanks for the review as well as the rating.

  6. Good receipe i try all your tasty receipe and cooking interested is growing
    I want receipe of veg that can kids can eat because my kid hate vegetables
    Any ideas pls share

    • thanks anita. i have shared many vegetable recipes. you can use the search bar and find the recipes you want.

  7. It was good served immediately, but great the longer it sat and let the spices intermingle. Even flavor from start to finish. I used mustard seed oil.5 stars

  8. I Loved Ur recipe… Tried it and its yummm… thank you so much ♥️5 stars

    • thanks and welcome smiley for the feedback as well rating.

  9. Hello,
    I have been following your blog since 5 years now. I got hooked because of the visual guide, which I found easier to follow & compare each step as I prepared the dish. Thank you so much for that.
    Could you please provide the name of the small mixer which you use ? ..I’ve noticed you use that for wet as well as dry grinding, It looks so multifunctional,not to mention the compact size of it.
    Again thank you for all the hard work & yummy recipes. ????

    • thanks chaitra. glad to know that the visual presentation is helping you.

      the mixer grinder that i use (shown in this recipe) is preethi blue leaf brand. it has a small chutney grinder, 2 wet grinders and 1 juice extractor. there is another small blender i use, which is nutrivault from texet. i use this one for making milkshakes, making coriander or mint chutney and for onion, tomato paste, making small quantities of coriander powder, jeera powder etc. for grinding coconut or coconut based masala pastes, idli batter etc i use preethi blue leaf mixer-grinder. both are available on amazon.in

      • Thanks for the info ????????

  10. Thank you, Dassana 🙂

  11. Dear Dassana,
    I am one of your many silent, but faithful recipe followers. Of course, your recipes are great, like this one. But what I truly admire about you is your calm, patient nature. You never get sarcastic, never not answer…even when something is unrelated to a given recipe. I think that warmth, that ability to be simple and respond to people is your biggest strength. You’ve retained this quality, despite your enormous popularity. Kudos to you!
    Now, my silly question 😉
    I’ve always wondered through my tears, while chopping onions, that is it really worth it? Is there a REAL difference to a Curry’s taste if the onions are ground to paste in a mixer with ginger and garlic, or if they are chopped fine? I think, you are best placed to answer this, with your home science background and experience in cooking. I am always looking at ways to shorten my cooking time. Some of my friends also freeze the basic curry and then use frozen cubes. What is your take on that? It would be wonderful if you can add section on make-ahead dishes, OPOS cooking, etc. I know, i know, I know, I know… A lot of what I ask is there in your tips…. Somehow it doesn’t leap out when I am searching. I also want to bake things, because it’s easier sometimes than standing around frying when you have guests. And carving out a section, from your already existing repertoire, for easy hacks, party planning, etc…will help.
    Please keep inspiring us! My very best wishes and warm regards to you!
    Sulekha5 stars

    • thank you much sulekha. felt good reading your comment. thanks again.

      now for your query – onions whether chopped, minced or made into a paste – all three make the curry or gravy taste different. sauteed onions give a completely different taste to a gravy than minced onions or onion paste. the complete taste changes. even frying onions till light golden or golden, changes the taste of the curry. you can use frozen onion paste cubes as it saves time and effort. soak onions for about 30 minutes before peeling and chopping. the tears will be less or won’t be there.

      thanks for sharing the suggestions. i will see if i can add them. thanks again.

  12. Hi, I made this recipe for my mother’s 60th birthday Party and I got so many compliments! Almost every one noted down your blog name!

    Thank you for the recipe!

    • thanks archana for sharing your experience and feedback on chole recipe. glad to know. welcome.

  13. Hi Dassana! I’m in love with your recipes. I tried your many recipes and it turns out great. Thanks for the blog and keep posting your recipes.love you ????5 stars

    • thank you lopa for this sweet comment. hugs and wish you all the best. happy cooking.

  14. I have tried this recipe so many times.. and every time it’s a hit.. Thank you so much for a lovely recipe.. Your recipes never fail as per my experience till now..????????5 stars

    • so glad to know anuprita. thanks for the feedback as well as the review.

  15. what a simply lipsmacking gravy of chickpeas!
    I cannot imagine anyone not liking this…..
    HATS OFF TO YOU,MA’AM!

    • thank you radhika ????

  16. Hi Dassana, just wanted to say thank you for the amazing recipes. I have used your Bhature recipe time and again, each time it turns out perfect. It really simplifies making it. Could not leave this comment there, because the thread wasn’t showing up for some reason. I too live abroad and although I have an arsenal of spices I don’t have black tea 🙂 we just aren’t tea drinkers. The amla and pomegranate seeds are going to be impossible to find. Do you have a third alternative? Or is it ok to just go without? Thanks once again, love from China.5 stars

    • thank you eshaa and nice to know. for the chole, just skip everything. sometimes its not possible to get all the ingredients where one lives. i hope the punjabi chana masala recipe comes very well for you.