Chana Masala or Punjabi Chole (Chickpea Curry) is a rock-star amongst North Indian entree dishes. Combined with Bhatura (puffed, fried tortilla-like Indian bread), onion rings, sliced serrano and pickles, Chana Masala would play the perfect song on your dinner table and make your taste buds dance to its tunes. While there are probably as many different ways to prepare Chole as there are towns in India, the Punjabi variant leaves other contenders far behind with its tangy and spicy tastefulness, thick gravy consistency, and appetizingly good looks. And the health benefits of Chickpeas - low in saturated fat & cholesterol but high in fibers and proteins, make Punjabi Chole appealing to all people that love food but want to eat reasonably.
After learning the ropes of preparing this sumptuous dish in the traditional Punjabi way from my mom's kitchen, I spent years re-inventing and re-mastering my mom's original Punjabi recipe till I could create a simpler & healthier recipe without losing the traditional Punjabi flavors. Also, I use oil (and very little of it) for a more healthy preparation, as opposed to the traditional way of using clarified butter (Ghee). Hope your taste buds enjoy the dance :)
CHANA MASALA RECIPE
1 cup Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans (Chole/Kabuli Chana)
1 1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp fresh Ginger paste
1/2 tbsp fresh Garlic paste
1 cup fresh Tomato puree
1 Black Cardamom; available in Indian Grocery Stores
2 Bay leaves; available in Indian Grocery Stores
2 one inch Cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tbsp Chana masala; available in Indian Grocery Stores
1/2 tbsp Roasted Cumin powder
1 tbsp Pomegranate powder
Salt to taste
1 inch fresh Ginger piece; cut into thin strips
2 tbsp chopped fresh Cilantro (Coriander) leaves
How to make Channa Masala
- Rinse & soak the Chickpeas in 4 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Rinse & drain in cold water.
- In a Pressure Cooker, add the chickpeas, 3 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt & tea leaves/tea bags (tied in a muslin cloth). Cook till chickpeas are soft but still retaining their shape. Once cooked, discard the tea leaves bag but don't throw away the water. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a deep non-stick pan on medium heat. Add bay leaves, black cardamom, cinnamon & cloves. Sauté for 10 seconds.
- Add the onion paste & sauté till light brown in color.
- Add ginger-garlic paste & sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add tomato puree. Sauté till the oil separates.
- Add chana masala, cumin powder, cayenne pepper & pomegranate powder. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicpeas along with their water & the green chillies. Mix well & cook on low heat for 15 minutes or till the gravy is thick.
- Lightly mash some of the chickpeas with the back of your spoon/ladle. Adjust salt to your taste.
- Transfer it to a bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves & ginger strips. Serve hot with bhatura, rice or roti.
Chickpeas may cause indigestion or flatulence (gas), soaking your beans in water for at least 6 hours helps in removing or greatly reducing the gas-producing carbohydrates & sugars. Make sure you thoroughly rinse your beans, in a colander, before and after soaking. However, if you still face indigestion, you may add 1 tsp of Carom seeds (Ajwain) or a pinch of Asafoetida (Heeng) while adding all the whole spices; Carom Seeds & Asafoetida are known for their digestive properties.