Punjabi Chole – Chickpeas Curry

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Punjabi chole masala or chana masala is one of the most popular curry dishes from India. In fact in north India no wedding or party is complete until you have chole masala on the menu. I remember whenever we would call someone over for lunch or dinner, mom would almost always make chole.

So what actually is chole masala? In this recipe, chickpeas are cooked with onions, tomatoes and lots of spices. A special blend of spices called “chole powder/masala” is easily available at every Indian store. One can make chole masala powder at home too by dry roasting ingredients like cumin, cloves, coriander, peppercorn, cardamom etc. But I usually get the masala from the store, saves me time and also tastes good.

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My husband loves chole, well that’s given since he is a punjabi. So after I got married I really tried to master making punjabi chole and after lots of trials and errors, I think I have now found the perfect recipe. Hubby feels that I make the best chole, maybe he’s just biased but at least that make me pretty confident about this recipe ; -)

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You will notice that I added 2 tea bags while cooking chickpeas in the pressure cooker, that’s because the tea bags help in giving chole a dark brown/black color. I added only 2, but for a deeper darker brown color, you can add more tea bags. And before you start wondering, let me assure you that the tea bags do not hamper the taste of chickpeas in any way.

 

Serves: 5-6

Ingredients

To pressure cook

Chickpeas/Chole: 2 cups + 2 tbsp

Cardamom: 5-6

Black peppercorn: 4-5

Bay leaves: 2

Cinnamon sticks: 2

Tea bags: 2

Salt: to taste

Water: 5 cups

 

For the chole

Onion: 3/4 cup, grated or pureed [from 2 small onions]

Tomatoes: 2.5 cups puree [from 4 medium tomatoes]

Cloves: 3-4

Ginger-garlic paste: 2 teaspoon

Chole Masala: 3 teaspoon

Cumin powder: 3/4 teaspoon

Paprika powder: 1/2 teaspoon

Red chili powder: 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

Salt: to taste

 

 

To garnish

Ghee [clarified butter]: 1 tablespoon

Ginger: 1 inch, cut into julienne

Dried fenugreek leaves [kasuri methi]: 1/2 tbsp, crushed

Coriander leaves: 2 tablespoon, chopped

Garam masala: 1/4 teaspoon

 

Method

Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover them. I soaked a little more than 2 cups and in the morning I had around 5.5 cups of it! Drain the water in which you had soaked the chickpeas.

1. In a pressure cooker add the soaked and drained chickpeas, around 5 cups water, 2 tea bags, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon stick and some salt. Pressure cook at high flame till you get 1-2 whistles. After that lower the flame to medium and let the chickpeas cook for another 10-12 minutes. Remove the cooker from heat and allow it to cool down. Once the steam is gone, open the cooker and check the chickpeas. You should be able to press them easily with your fingers. If not, close the cooker and cook for 2 more whistles.

Here, you can also remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick etc. from the chickpeas if you don’t want them in the curry.

2. In a wok, heat 2 tsp of oil. Once hot, add cloves and grated onions. Fry the onions till the raw smell goes away and they are light golden brown in color.

3. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for 3-4 minutes till the smell of ginger-garlic goes away.

Chole-Recipe-Steps-1-notitle-cwm4. Now add the tomato puree , stir and let it cook for 12-15 minutes on medium-low flame. Cover the pan to prevent splash all around. This step in my opinion is very important. The tomatoes need to be cooked really well till the raw smell goes away completely. So have patience and let them cook for around 15 minutes.

5. Add the chole masala, red chilli powder, paprika powder, cumin powder, salt and mix for a 1-2 minutes.

6. Drain the the chickpeas and add them to the tomato-onion mixture, stir till all the chickpeas are coated with spices, around 2 minutes. Do not throw away the water once you have drained the chickpeas. We will add the same water in the gravy.

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7. Add water, cover the pan and let it simmer at medium-low flame for around 30 minutes. The gravy will thicken after 30 minutes so add water accordingly. I do not like thin gravy with chole but if you do add more water than what is mentioned in the recipe.

After 30 minutes the gravy, chickpeas and all the spices would have mixed well together. We can now do the tempering.

8. To temper, heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a pan and the ginger julienne to it.

9. Fry till the juliennes are golden brown in color but do not burn them. Add to the chole curry, mix and switch off the flame.

Chole-Recipe-Step-3-notitle-cwmSprinkle some garam masala, kasuri methi and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with roti, paratha or plain rice. Chole-chawal (chole & plain rice) is a very popular combination in North India.

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Punjabi Chole - Chickpeas Curry

Manali
Chickpeas Indian curry where chickpeas are cooked with lots and lots of spices. Goes well with naan, roti or plain rice.
5 from 46 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 5
Calories 248 kcal

Ingredients
  

To pressure cook

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons raw chickpeas
  • 5-6 green cardamom pods
  • 4-5 black peppercorn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tea bags
  • salt to taste
  • 5 cups water

For the chole masala

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 3/4 cup pureed onion from 2 small onions
  • 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 2.5 cups pureed tomatoes from 4 medium tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons chole masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt to taste

To garnish

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 inch ginger cut into julienne
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed kasuri methi also known as dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover them. In the morning, drain the water.
  • In a pressure cooker add the soaked and drained chickpeas, 2 tea bags, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, salt and 4 to 5 cups water. Pressure cook at high flame till you get 1-2 whistles. After that lower the flame to medium and let the chickpeas cook for another 10-12 minutes.
  • In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add cloves and grated onions. Fry the onions till the raw smell goes away and they are light golden brown in color.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for 3-4 minutes till the smell of ginger-garlic goes away.
  • Now add the tomato puree , stir and let it cook for 12-15 minutes on medium-low flame. Cover the pan to prevent the splash all around.
  • Add the chole masala, red chilli powder, paprika powder, cumin powder, salt and mix for a 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas next and stir will all the chickpeas are coated with the spices, around 2 minutes.
  • Add water (which was used for boiling the chickpeas), cover the pan and let it simmer at medium-low flame for around 30 minutes. The gravy will thicken after 30 minutes so add water accordingly.
  • To temper, heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a pan and the ginger julienne to it.
  • Fry till the juliennes are golden brown in color but do not burn them. Add to the chole curry, mix and switch off the flame.
  • Sprinkle some garam masala, kasuri methi and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve with roti, paratha or plain rice.

Notes

  1. Skip the ghee in the tempering to make this vegan.
  2. To cut short the process of soaking chickpeas overnight, use canned chickpeas which are easily available at grocery stores. The canned ones can be prepared immediately and do not need to be soaked overnight.
  3. Adjust the amount of  red chili powder in the recipe to taste.
  4. Patience is something you will need while cooking chole or any such Indian curry. Of course, I can make it in a quicker way by adding everything in the pressure cooker. But if you let the tomatoes and onions cook really well and then simmer the chickpeas with the spices for a longer time, the taste would be much much better.
  5. I like to keep the chole masala gravy on the thicker side, for a thinner gravy add more water.
  6. Chole masala actually tastes the best 1 day after you make it because the spices are then better incorporated into the chickpeas.
  7. Chole freeze well. Let the curry come down to room temperature, store in an airtight container and freeze.

Nutrition

Calories: 248kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 10gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 187mgPotassium: 722mgFiber: 11gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 380IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 4.7mg
Keyword chole
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

Punjabi Chole

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174 thoughts on “Punjabi Chole – Chickpeas Curry

  1. Hey! Like some other commenters, I don’t have chhole masala either. What I do have are the usual spices:
    cumin, cloves, coriander, peppercorn, cardamom (list copied from your recipe). But I also have chaat masala. The way my mom used to make it, the chhole had a bit of a tangy flavor–can I add chaat masala for this? Or does that flavor come from the tomatoes?

    Maybe I’m remembering the taste incorrectly. It’s literally been ~7 years since I’ve had chhole. 🙂

    1. The tangy flavor usually comes from pomegranate seeds which are a part of chole masala. you can use amchur (Dried mango powder) if you have that!

    1. You can but yes if you ask me, I would always tell to use raw chickpeas to make chole masala since that’s how it was always made and it tastes the best that way. Of course you may use canned chickpeas but the taste and flavor will be superior when you use soaked raw chickpeas.

      1. Hello Manali! If we use canned chickpeas, how does that change the quantity of chickpeas for this recipe we must use?

        I also saw a comment below where you said we can use amchur powder. If I substitute Garam masala for chole masala (same qty listed here) and use amchur in addition, how much amchur should I add?

  2. 5 stars
    Have used your recipe thrice already my husband is Punjabi too so we share a common challenge’To make the perfect Chole’ 😊Made it right now with just a small variation of a coin size imli soaked in 3/4 cup of water and added it after the masala was added step as my husband likes it more tangy also added half teaspoon of Amchur pwd turned out as per his taste. Thanks to you he loves the chole I make now.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi, I don’t generally leave comments but this turned out to be amazing! Your instructions were very accurate and this is absolutely delicious. 😍

  4. This is the best chole I’ve ever tasted. I’ve tried a lot of chole recipes, not too different from one another, but with quite different results, for me at least. That said, I love all chole! but yours is my new chole recipe and I can’t imagine trying another. Going to look into ordering your cookbook also. I love to cook Indian food; an American living in Goa, but I learned to cook Indian food before I ever came here, from my great teacher Madhur Jaffreys. Some of the pages in my Madhur cookbooks have been used so many times, they are all stained almost unreadable. I’m always open to a new cookbook. I have a new instant pot waiting for me in California where I planned to spend monsoon, until I got locked down here. I’ll take the book back to CA with me, and if successful with it, maybe I can buy an instant pot here in India when I return.
    Thanks for the chole! maybe now I’ll try your rajma.
    Katharine

    1. 5 stars
      Just mad this recipe without the kasturi methi and yet loved it. Though the color of my gravy isnt as dark as yours but it still taste good. Thanks 😊

  5. Hi this is Ananya, I love your recipes. Want to try this recipe but I do not have tomatoes. Can you tell me substitute for tomatoes.

    1. That is tough Ananya, tomatoes form the base of chole curry. I really don’t know a substitute for them. You can make another type of chole fir onions only, but for this recipe you would need tomatoes.

  6. 5 stars
    Lovely delicious recipe, I’m making it again today.😘
    Only thing I’d say is don’t pressure cook tea bags! Mine burst and I had to strain and rinse the loose tea from chole! Instead simmer tea bags in water for 15mins ish and then discard the bags and use water in pressure cooker 👍

  7. Hi Manali,
    I have just recently started following your recipes. Eat one was winner. Made Chole Bhature for lunch today. Was yummmmmm! Was not at all too much masala and the bhature turned out oilers. Thank you.

  8. I don’t have a pressure cooker. How long should I boil the chickpeas for? I soaked them overnight. Thank you

  9. 5 stars
    Dear Manali, Your’s is the first recipe I came across which gave out the secret of dark colour (with tea bags) for chole .Made it today ,it looked fantastic and tasted delicious! Thank you so much 😍

  10. 5 stars
    I have been making chole masala for years now but the family had become bored of the taste. Was looking to rev it up and that’s when I came across this recipe. Decided to give it a go and boy, was I pleasantly surprised!

  11. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! It turned out so well. Everybody loved it and I’ve been told by my family that going forward I should be making chole just like this😍😍

    1. the 2 cups dried chickpeas increase in size and become 5.5 cups of chickpeas when soaked overnight. So I pressure cook what I have after soaking- 5.5 cups of soaked chickpeas.

  12. 5 stars
    Best chole masala recipe I’ve tried! My new favorite! I highly recommend this recipe to anyone craving Punjabi chole!

  13. 5 stars
    Hi I generally don’t leave comments but this recipe is great and well explained. I used two tomatoes instead of 4 but it still tasted nice. Thank you

    1. has to be added along with all the other spices while pressure cooking, even if you skip it – it’s not going to change the taste of the chole, so not really a big deal. It’s a typo and I will fix it.

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