chana masala 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 chole masala recipe which taste awesome. it is one of the most tried and tested delicious chickpea curry recipe on the blog. it has been tried not only by me innumerable times, but also by many readers.
there are many variations of making chole recipe. but i liked this punjabi chana masala recipe the most. it tastes like the punjabi chole masala 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 which 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.
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 punjabi chole masala with tandoori rotis or phulka or kulcha or bhaturas or poori or naan, along with sliced onions and lime. this chana masala also tastes good with plain rice or jeera rice.
how to make chana masala
for ease of understanding, i have divided this chana masala post into 3 steps.
- step 1 – soaking and cooking chana
- step 2 – roasting spices to make chana masala powder
- step 3 – making chana masala 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.
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.
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.
4. season with ½ tsp salt. stir very well.
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 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 (sabut kali mirch)
- 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 (anardana)
- 1 or 2 dry red chilies
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.
8. the extra browned & roasted chana masala spices below.
9. let these roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder.
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.
making chana 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.
12. then add 1 medium sized finely chopped onion and saute till the onions turn translucent or light brown.
13. add 1 medium sized finely chopped tomato.
14. saute the tomatoes till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala.
15. then add the powdered spices that we made, along with ½ tsp red chili powder and ¼ tsp turmeric powder.
16. stir well. then add 2 to 3 slit green chilies to the onion-ginger-tomato mixture.
17. add the cooked & drained chickpeas. reserve the stock.
18. stir well.
19. season with salt as per requirement. stir. keep the addition of salt in check as salt is also there in the stock.
20. add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the reserved stock or water. stir well.
cooking chana masala
21. cover and simmer on a low to medium flame. you can also cook chickpeas without the lid. the chole masala 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.
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.
23. the chana masala ready to be served.
24. garnish chana masala with chopped onions and coriander leaves. serve the punjabi chole recipe 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.
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 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.
more tasty punjabi recipes
for pressure cooking white chickpeas or chana
- 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 chana 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 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 chana masala
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 3 to 4 black peppers (sabut kali mirch)
- 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 chana masala
- 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
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 for making chana masala
- In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chana 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 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 chana 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 chana masala
- simmer chole masala 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 chana masala 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. stir the gravy well.
- garnish chole masala with coriander leaves & ginger julienne.
- serve the punjabi chole recipe with kulchas, bhaturas, pooris, rotis, along with sliced onions, tomatoes and lime.
- it 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.
- you can also use canned chickpeas and add them once the tomatoes are sauteed.
if cooking chickpeas 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 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.