Chole Masala (Chana Masala)

4.23 from 27 votes

Chole Masala (Chana Masala) is an Indian curry made with chickpeas (chole), onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. It is one of the most popular curries in North Indian cuisine. Use my easy recipe in a stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot to make it in one pot.

Here are some more chole recipes that you may like: Palak Chole, Achari Chole, and Chana Madra.

Chole masala recipe served in a bowl.
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About Chole Masala (Chana Masala)

Chole (Chana) is chickpeas in Hindi, and masala is a curry made with onion, tomato, and spices.

Chole Masala (Chana Masala) is a spicy Indian curry made using chickpeas that is very popular in the Punjab and Delhi regions.

It is a must-make dish for all festivals, Indian weddings, parties, and get-togethers. Chole Bhature (fried puffed bread) is a popular combination and comfort food for many Indians. Some homes even have the ritual of making this combination for Sunday lunches.

Punjabi chole is listed on the menu of most Indian restaurants, and although you can order it from outside, the taste of homemade chole is unmatchable.

Each home has its recipe to make chole. Some make it with onions and garlic, and some make it without. Some people add chole masala powder, and some don’t. few people cook the soaked chole and then add them to the masala, and some, like me, cook them all together.

My recipe for this Punjabi chole curry is one-pot, uses basic ingredients, and comes together quickly. You get the curry that is dark in color, spicy, tangy, and full of flavors.

Chana Masala can be made in a 3-qt traditional stovetop pressure cooker or an instant pot. If scaling it, make sure to use a bigger pressure cooker or instant pot. The cooking time will remain the same.

Ingredients

This curry needs some basic ingredients, easily available in all Indian grocery stores.

Chickpeas (Chana, Chole, Garbanzo Beans) – This recipe traditionally uses dry chickpeas.

To save time, you can use canned chickpeas as well.

Black Tea (Chai Patti) – This is the trick to getting dark-colored chickpea curry. You can use loose black tea or tea bags.

Some people use dry amla (gooseberry) to darken their chole curry.

Whole Spices – You will need some whole spices such as cloves (laung), black cardamoms (badi elaichi), green cardamoms (hari elaichi), and cinnamon (dalchini).

Crush them a little in a mortar and pestle for the best flavor.

Spice Powders – To flavor the curry, you will need chole masala powder, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder (jeera powder), and anardana powder (pomegranate seeds powder).

I use Everest brand chole masala powder, but you can use any brand you like.

Anadrana powder gives this Punjabi chole recipe a tangy taste and is traditionally added. But if it is not easily available, skip it and add some more tamarind paste once the chole curry is ready.

Kasuri Methi adds a nice rustic flavor. I make my own, but you can also use a packet.

Oil – Make this curry in any cooking oil. I prefer mustard oil or ghee.

Others – You will also need onions, ginger garlic paste, grated fresh tomatoes, baking soda, tamarind paste, and salt.

Baking soda helps cook the chole very nicely.

Tempering – Although optional, a ghee tempering at the end makes this curry even more extravagant.

You will need ghee, asafetida (hing), fresh ginger, and green chilies.

Skip adding asafetida for a gluten-free curry.

Replace ghee with oil for a vegan curry.

How To Make Chole Masala

Soak The Chickpeas

Wash 1 cup (7 oz, 200 g) of dried white chickpeas with water and soak them in 3-4 cups of water for 4-5 hours.

Drain the water and wash them well once more. Drain and keep aside.

Soaked chole.

Brew The Tea

Heat 2 cups of water in a pan over medium heat. 

Water boiling in a pan.

Once the water comes to a boil, add 2 teaspoon of loose black tea leaves (or 2 teabags) and cook for a minute. If you don’t care about the curry’s color, skip this step.

Tealeaves added to the pan.
Brewed tea.

Strain the tea using a tea strainer and keep it aside.

Tea strained using a tea strainer.

Make The Chole Curry

In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

Lightly crush the following whole spices in a mortar and pestle.

  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2-3 green cardamoms
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick

Heat 5 tablespoon of oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.

Oil heating in a pressure cooker.

Once the oil is hot, add the crushed spices and fry for 4-5 seconds.

Crushed spices added to the hot oil.

Add 1 cup of grated onions and cook until they turn slightly brown, stirring frequently (8-10 minutes). Splash a little water if the paste sticks at the bottom of the cooker.

Grated onions added to the cooker.
Browned onions.

Add 2 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes or until the raw smell is gone.

Ginger garlic paste added to the cooker.

Now add 1 cup of grated tomatoes and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.

Grated tomatoes added to the cooker.

Add the following spice powders and cook until the oil starts to separate from the sides (1-2 minutes).

  • 2 tablespoon of chole masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon anardana powder (optional)
Spice powders added to the cooker.

Now add the following ingredients to the cooker and stir gently.

  • soaked chole
  • tea water
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of plain water
Soaked chole, tea water, baking soda, regular water, and salt added to the cooker.
Stirred well.

Close the lid of the cooker.

Lid of the cooker closed.

Pressure cook for 1 whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.

Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the cooker.

Cooked chole.

Add 1 tablespoon of Kauri methi and 1 teaspoon tamarind paste and mix well.

Kasuri methi added to the cooker.

Slightly mash the chole using the back of a ladle for the creamy texture of the curry.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

If the chole is not tangy enough, add a teaspoon or two of tamarind paste, dry mango powder (amchur powder), or lime juice.

In An Instant Pot

Press the SAUTE mode of the instant pot.

Follow the recipe until the chole and water are added.

Close the instant pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position.

Press PRESSURE COOK mode and set the timer to 20 minutes at high pressure.

The instant pot will take some time to build the pressure and the timer to start.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.

Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.

Open the lid add 1 tablespoon of Kauri methi and 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, and mix well.

Slightly mash the chole using the back of a ladle for a super creamy texture for the curry.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

If the chole is not tangy enough, add a teaspoon or two of tamarind paste, dry mango powder (amchur powder), or lime juice.

Temper The Chana Masala (Optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee for tempering in a small pan over medium-high heat. 

Once the ghee is hot, add the following ingredients and fry for 10-12 seconds. 

  • ½ teaspoon asafetida
  • 2-3 green chiles (slit into half)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juliennes
Asafetida, green chilies and ginger added to hot oil in a pan.

Pour the tempering over the chole and mix well. Serve hot.

Tempering poured over chole.
Ready Punjabi chole.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make chana masala using canned chickepas?

If using canned chickpeas to make this curry, prepare the masala as mentioned in the recipe in a regular pan over the stovetop. Add the drained and rinsed canned chole and cook the curry for 10-15 minutes on low heat uncovered. Adjust the quantity of water as needed. For 1 cup of dry chole, you will need 2 cans of chickpeas.

Can I make chole without onions and garlic?

If you prefer to avoid onions and garlic, you can make chole without them. Just skip adding them to the recipe.

Can I adjust the spice level in chole?

Absolutely! The spice level in chole can be adjusted to suit your taste. You can increase or decrease the chili powder or add fresh green chilies for extra heat. Adjust the spices according to your preference.

Can I replace chole masala with garam masala?

No, garam masala is a strong blend of whole spices and is added in very small quantities to enhance the taste of curries. In contrast, chole masala powder is a milder spice mix with some extra ingredients added to enhance the taste of chole curry.

Pro Tips By Neha

If you forgot to soak chickpeas, soak them in boiling hot water for about an hour or two. I usually soak them in a hot case to speed up the process.

Always slightly overcook the chickpeas. They should very easily press in between your fingers.

Tea is optional, but if you need that dark color in your chole curry, you must use it. Never use tea bags directly in the cooker, as they might burst.

Slightly mashing a few chickpeas, once the curry is ready, makes the curry very creamy.

If anardana is not available, you can substitute lemon juice, tamarind pulp, or dry mango powder.

I like the consistency of my Punjabi chole masala on the drier side. You can choose to add more water to make the gravy thinner.

Serving Suggestions

Chole curry can be served for brunch, breakfast, dinner, or lunch with Poori, Plain Naan, Garlic Naan, or Bhatura.

You can also serve Punjabi chana masala with Plain Tawa Paratha, Lachha Paratha, Phulka, Steamed Rice, or Jeera Rice. 

I sometimes add it over my Aloo Tikkis and then top it with coriander mint chutney, sweet tamarind chutney, finely chopped onions, and sev to make chaat.

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Chole Masala (Chana Masala) is an Indian curry made with chickpeas (chole), onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. It is one of the most popular curries in North Indian cuisine. Use my easy recipe in a stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot to make it in one pot.
4.23 from 27 votes

Chole Masala Recipe (Chana Masala)

Chole Masala (Chana Masala) is an Indian curry made with chickpeas (chole), onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices. It is one of the most popular curries in North Indian cuisine. Use my easy recipe in a stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot to make it in one pot.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Soaking Time: 5 hours
Total: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

To Soak The Chole

  • 1 cup dried chole (white chickpeas, garbanzo beans) (7 oz, 200 g)

For The Tea Water

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons loose black tea leaves (chai patti) (or 2 tea bags)

For The Curry

  • 2-3 cloves (laung)
  • 1 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
  • 2-3 green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 5 tablespoons any neutral-flavored cooking oil (or mustard oil, ghee)
  • 1 cup grated onions
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 cup grated fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chole masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon anardana powder (pomegranate seed powder) (optional)
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (plus more if the curry is not tangy enough for your taste)

For The Tempering (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon ghee (use oil for vegan recipe)
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida (hing) (skip for gluten free)
  • 2-3 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 1 teaspoon julienned ginger
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Instructions 

Soak The Chickpeas

  • Wash chickpeas with water and soak them in 3-4 cups of water for 4-5 hours.
  • Drain the water and wash them well once more. Drain and keep aside.

Brew The Tea

  • Heat water in a pan over medium heat. 
  • Once the water comes to a boil, add tea leaves and cook for a minute. You can skip this step if you don’t care about the color of the curry.
  • Strain the tea using a tea strainer and keep it aside.

Make The Chole Curry

    In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

    • Lightly crush cloves, black cardamom, green cardamoms, and cinnamon in a mortar and pestle.
    • Heat oil in a 3-liter stovetop pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
    • Once the oil is hot, add the crushed spices and fry for 4-5 seconds.
    • Add onions and cook until they turn slightly brown, stirring frequently (8-10 minutes). Splash a little water if the paste sticks at the bottom of the cooker.
    • Add ginger garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes or until the aw smell is gone.
    • Now add tomatoes and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.
    • Add chole masala powder, coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, and anardana powder, and cook until the oil starts to separate from the sides (1-2 minutes).
    • Now add the soaked chole, tea water, baking soda, salt, and 1 cup of plain water to the cooker and stir gently.
    • Close the lid of the cooker.
    • Pressure cook for 1 whistle on high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
    • Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
    • Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the cooker.
    • Add Kauri methi and tamarind paste and mix well.
    • Slightly mash the chole using the back of a ladle for a super creamy texture of the curry.
    • Check for salt and add more if needed.
    • If the chole are not tangy enough, then add a teaspoon or two of tamarind paste, dry mango powder (amchur powder), or lime juice and mix well.

    In An Instant Pot

    • Press the SAUTE mode of a 3-quart instant pot and follow the steps until closing the lid.
    • Close the lid of the instant pot and set the valve to the sealing position.
    • Now press PRESSURE COOK mode and set the timer to 20 minutes at high pressure.
    • The instant pot will take some time to build the pressure and timer to start.
    • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
    • Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
    • Add Kauri methi and tamarind paste and mix well.
    • Slightly mash the chole using the back of a ladle for a super creamy texture for the curry.
    • Check for salt and add more if needed.
    • If the chole are not tangy enough, then add a teaspoon or two of tamarind paste, dry mango powder (amchur powder), or lime juice and mix well.

    Temper The Chana Masala (Optional)

    • Heat ghee for tempering in a small pan over medium-high heat. 
    • Once the ghee is hot, add asafetida, green chiles, and ginger juliennes and fry for 10-12 seconds. 
    • Pour the tempering over the chole and mix well. Serve hot.

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    If you forgot to soak chickpeas, soak them in boiling hot water for about an hour or two. I usually soak them in a hot case to speed up the process.
    Always slightly over-boil the chickpeas. They should very easily press in between your fingers.
    Tea is optional, but if you need that dark color in your chole curry, you must use it. Never use tea bags directly in the cooker, as they might burst.
    Slightly mashing a few chickpeas, once the curry is ready, makes the curry very creamy.
    If anardana is not available, you can substitute lemon juice, tamarind pulp, or dry mango powder.
    If using canned chickpeas to make this curry, prepare the masala as mentioned in the recipe in a regular pan. Add the canned chole and cook the curry for 10-15 minutes on low heat uncovered. Adjust the quantity of water as needed. For 1 cup of dry chole, you will need 2 cans of chickpeas.
    I like my chole’s drier consistency. You can add more water to make the gravy thinner.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 213kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 270mg, Potassium: 394mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 535IU, Vitamin C: 14.3mg, Calcium: 39mg, Iron: 2.2mg
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    4.23 from 27 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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