• Sheetal Jandial

Chole Masala

Updated: Jul 30

Chickpeas Curry



This Punjabi style Chole Masala is a curry based recipe, different from Pindi Chole which is a dry-ish chickpeas recipe.


Chole Masala is a simple traditional recipe which is put together using easily available ingredients, in your kitchen or at the nearest supermarket.


If you have boiled or canned chickpeas at hand, this recipe is ready in literally 20 minutes.


Thanks to its high plant based protein content, Chickpeas Curry makes for the perfect vegan main dish, complemented with basmati rice, naan, kulcha, bhatura or side of choice. This easy Chole Masala could also be your go to protein-rich recipe for meat-free Monday.


The flavours in this recipe of Chole Masala are well rounded and mellow thanks to the creaminess from the chickpeas. Add more chilli or chole masala powder if you like.


You may also be interested in this Chole (Chickpeas) Biryani recipe. Upcycle leftover chole masala to make chole biryani or make it from scratch.


Serves: 4

Time taken: 40-45 minutes (plus soaking 6-8 hours)

*the cooking time goes down to a quick 20 minutes if you have boiled chickpeas available


Ingredients to make Chole Masala / Chickpeas Curry


Step 1


1 cup chole (kabuli chana / chickpeas)

2 tbsp chana dal (split chickpeas)

3-4 cups water

4-5 garlic cloves

1 inch piece of ginger

1 onion, medium size

1 inch cinnamon / dalchini

4-5 cloves / laung

6-7 black peppercorns / kali mirch

1-2 black cardamom / badi elaichi

Salt, to taste

3-4 black tea bags or 1 tbsp black tea powder tied in a muslin cloth (optional)


Step 2: Chole Masala Powder (spice mix)


5-6 dried Kashmiri red chillies

2 dried bay leaves / tej patta

1 inch stick of cinnamon / dalchini

1 black cardamom / hari elaichi

2 tbsp coriander seeds / dhania

4-5 cloves / laung

6-7 black peppercorns / kali mirch

1 tbsp dried pomegranate seeds / anardana

1 tbsp cumin seeds / jeera

½ tbsp caraway seeds / shahi jeera

½ tsp fennel seeds / saunf

½ tsp carom seeds / ajwain

¼ tsp dried mango powder / amchur

¼ tsp dried ginger powder / saunth

½ tsp black salt / kala namak

A pinch of asafoetida / hing

A pinch of nutmeg powder / jaiphal powder

A pinch of mace powder / javitri powder


Step 3: Masala paste for Chole Masala


2 tomatoes, medium

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tbsp ginger garlic – finely chopped or paste

2 – 3 green chillies

1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera

½ tsp turmeric powder / haldi

A pinch of asafoetida / hing

1 tsp cumin powder / jeera powder

1 tbsp chole masala powder


Method of making Chole Masala / Chickpeas Curry


Step 1


Wash and soak 1 cup chole / chickpeas in enough water overnight or for a minimum of 5-6 hours. If you’re short on time, soak chole / chickpeas in warm water with a pinch of baking soda added to it for a couple of hours.


Add the chana dal to the soaked chole during the last couple of hours of soaking, and leave it to soak. Or you could soak the chana dal separately for a couple of hours.


Note: we are adding chana dal only to thicken the consistency of the chole masala. If you wish, you could skip adding chana dal and mash some of the cooked chickpeas before adding it to the masala.


Fine chop the garlic, ginger and onions.

Place the soaked chole and chana dal in a pressure cooker with all the ingredients mentioned under Step 1. Pressure cook the chickpeas on high heat for the first two whistles and then on medium low heat for approx. 20 - 25 minutes.


Get the pressure cooker off the heat and let the steam settle naturally. Once done, open the pressure cooker and check if the chickpeas are cooked through. Perfectly cooked chole should still have a bite, not too hard or mushy. Also keep in mind that the chickpeas will be further cooked with the masala paste for 15 minutes.


There should still be approx. 2 cups of water / liquid in the cooked chole. If not, you may need to add water while making the curry depending on the consistency you like. Chole Masala curry should be neither runny not too thick.


Remove the tea bags. You could also remove the whole spices at this point if you like.


Note: you don’t really need to add oil while boiling the chickpeas as we’re not frying the onions or spices.


Step 2: Chole Masala Powder (spice mix)


While the chickpeas are pressure cooking, dry roast all the whole spices listed under ingredients for the Chole Masala powder. Blend these to a fine powder and add the powder spices listed under ingredients for the Chole Masala powder. This should give you about half a cup or a little more of Chole Masala powder ready to be used when required.


Note: this recipe of Chole Masala powder is more of less interchangeable with regular Garam Masala. If you don’t have the time or ingredients to prepare this homemade Chole Masala powder, you could use store bought packed Chole Masala powder or simply use Garam Masala with the addition of amchur and anardana powder.


Step 3: Masala paste for Chole Masala


Grate the tomatoes or simply blend them in a blender till you get a fine paste.


Heat cooking oil in a thick bottom vessel large enough to hold the cooked chickpeas. Add finely chopped ginger garlic and slit green chillies. Once the flavours are released, add cumin seeds.


Once the cumin seeds crackle, add turmeric powder and asafoetida. Within a few seconds add the pureed tomatoes.


Cook this masala paste till the tomatoes are cooked through and oil starts to release from the sides. Add half of the quantities of jeera powder and chole masala powder. The balance half will be added at the end of the cooking process for fuller flavours.


Finally, putting it all together for the perfect Chole Masala / Chickpeas Curry


To the masala paste, add the cooked chickpeas along with the water left in the pressure cooker. Add more water if required and cook Chole Masala on medium low flame for 10-15 minutes allowing the flavours to blend well. Taste and add salt if required.


If you haven’t added split chickpeas, mash some of the chole using the back of a ladle or in a blender. This will help thicken the curry.


Once the chickpeas curry thickens a little or simply reaches your desired consistency, add the remaining jeera powder and chole masala powder. Mix well, taste and adjust flavours and your Punjabi style Chole Masala / Chickpeas Curry is ready. Garnish with ginger juliennes and / or coriander and serve.


Serve Chole Masala with bhatura, kulcha, naan, pulao, steamed or jeera rice… the choices are endless. Don’t forget to serve raita, pickled carrots and pickled onions along with your recipe of Chole Masala.


Chole Masala (Chickpeas Curry) served with Dahi Bhalle and Carrot Pickle

Take a look at the other Indian Curries, Indian mains recipes and quick & simple meal ideas.


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