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The Hirshon Punjabi Chana Masala – चना मसाला


Units Scale
  • 1 cup dried white chickpeas (garbanzo beans, kabuli chana or safed chole)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable stock (highly preferred) or water for pressure cooking the chickpeas
  • 3 dried amla (Indian gooseberry) or 1 black tea bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or add as required
  • ***
  • ingredients for chana masala gravy:
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped
  • 3 small garlic cloves + 1/2 inch ginger, crushed to a paste in a mortar or 1/2 tsp store-bought ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)
  • 3 green jalapeno chilies, slit
  • 1 1/4 cups stock from cooking the chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • salt as required
  • ***
  • spices for punjabi chole masala:
  • 2 black cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1/2 inch Ceylon cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 4 black peppers (sabut kali mirch)
  • 2 cloves (lavang)
  • 1 medium-sized tej patta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds (carom)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (dhania)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 dried Chiles de Arbol
  • ***
  • for garnish:
  • Chopped coriander leaves (dhania patta)
  • 1/2 inch ginger (adrak) julienned
  • 1 medium onion sliced or chopped
  • 1 medium tomato sliced or chopped
  • 1 lime (nimbu) sliced or quartered


  1. Rinse and soak the chickpeas (chana) in water to cover with at least 1″ extra water over them overnight. Rinse the soaked chickpeas. 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.
  2. in a pressure cooker, add the chole along with the 3 to 4 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. Then add stock or water to cover, season with salt and pressure cook the chana for 15 whistles. The chana should be cooked well and very soft. Remove the amla pieces which would have softened by now or the tea bag from the stock.
  3. roasting spices for making chole masala:
  4. In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala and on a low heat begin to roast them. Stir often and roast the spices till they get nicely 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.
  5. Let these roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder.
  6. making punjabi chana masala gravy:
  7. Heat oil in a pan and add ginger-garlic paste and sauté until the raw aroma goes away. Then add chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn light brown.
  8. Add tomatoes & sauté them until they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala. Then add the powdered chole masala that was previously ground, along with the red chili powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder.
  9. Stir the dry masala and then add slit green chilies and add the cooked chole. Stir well. Add salt. then add water. Stir and cover the chana.
  10. Simmer on a low to medium flame – you can also cook without the lid. The gravy will thicken and reduce – mash a few chana as this will help thicken the gravy.
  11. Simmer until you get the consistency you prefer. Add amchur powder (dry mango powder) now and stir.
  12. Garnish chole masala with coriander leaves & ginger julienne.
  13. 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.
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