“She looked me straight in the eye and asked for my chest number, as she needed to note down the winners. All she had to do was to look a couple of inches lower and take it right off my chest!” exasperated the bronze medalist of 800 m race, this School Sports day, where it was compulsory to wear the large chest number badges.

Chole | Channa Masala, the pride of Punjab and the glory of Delhi street food, the popular North Indian curry made with Kabuli channa, loved by one and all, needs no introduction. It was made to commemorate the bronze medalist, my Ms. Fourteen going on Fifteen.

I discovered and rediscovered Chole, as a little Delhite, in Lodhi gardens, Connaught Place, Palika Bazaar, Sarojini Market, Karol Baugh and C Markets of Delhi along with other street food like Golgappas, Aloo chat, Samosas and Jaljeera. Now I am not so sure about street food! Ignorance is bliss!


Prep Time : 9 hours; Cooking Time : 30 mins; Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients :
  • 11/2 cup kabuli chana | garbanzo beans | white chickpeas
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 – 4 dried amla | gooseberry pieces (or dry roast chopped fresh amla pieces)
  •  1 black tea bag
  • 3 large onions
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 sprigs coriander leaves
  • 1/4  tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp amchur powder | dry mango powder
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp s Chole masala powder
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil | sunflower oil or any cooking oil
  • rock salt powder as per taste
Ingredients for the Chole Masala Powder:
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tej patta | bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp saunf | fennel seeds
  • 1/2  tsp anardana | dry pomegranate seeds (optional, if not easily available)
  • 2 or 3 dry red chilies
  1. Wash thoroughly and soak the Kabuli channa in enough water overnight.
  2. Next morning pressure cook the Kabuli channa along with dry amla pieces (lends a hint of tartness) and the tea bag (for dark brown coloured channa) upto 9 – 10 whistles, till the channa is totally soft and cooked. Discard the amla pieces and the tea bag.
  3. Meanwhile dry roast the spices for the chole masala, till lightly brown and fragrant. Cool and grind them in a dry grinder.
  4. Also finely chop the onions, tomatoes, garlic, 1/2 inch of ginger piece and slit green chillies into lengthwise pieces.
  5. Heat oil in Kadai | wok | skillet | pan , add chopped ginger,garlic, saute till their raw smell goes away, then add chopped onions, salt, saute till the onions turn translucent, now add tomatoes, saute them well till they are well cooked.
  6. Take half the gravy and 1 tbsp of the pressure cooked Kabuli channa, blend it coarsely in a blender. This helps to thicken the gravy faster, then transfer the ground paste back to the pan.
  7. Add the freshly ground chole masala powder, turmeric powder and lengthwise slit green chilly pieces, add the water in which channa was cooked and then finally the kabuli channa to the pan. Mix well, cover and simmer cook on a low flame till the gravy thickens for about 10 – 15 mins. At this stage add amchur powder, simmer without the lid for another 5 mins and switch of heat. Do note the gravy will thicken a bit more, as it cools down. Check for seasoning.
  8.  Chop the coriander leaves and julienne the other 1/2 inch of ginger piece. Squeeze in the lemon juice and garnish with chopped coriander leaves and ginger juliennes.  Make sure to add lemon juice at the end, when the chole is not too hot, as it may tend to get bitter.
 Chole along with sliced salad of raw onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, green chilies and lemon wedges is served with bhaturas, pooris, rotis, kulchas or steamed Basmati rice varieties.
Channa Masala



12 thoughts on “♧ CHOLE | CHANNA MASALA ♧”

  1. Hi Jo! Answering your questions :

    1) Yes, those are ginger juliennes as a garnish.

    2) I can suggest substituting dried chickpeas with canned grabanzo beans.

    Hope this snippet, on how to cook grabanzo beans helps :

    To cook the garbanzo beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried garbanzo beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the legumes. Bring them to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, skim it off during the simmering process. Garbanzo beans generally take about one to one and one-half hours to become tender using this method. If the beans are still hard and no more water remains, add 1 cup of hot water and continue to cook until soft.

    If you are running short on time, you can always use canned beans in your recipes. If the garbanzo beans have been packaged with salt or other additives, simply rinse them after opening the can to remove these unnecessary additions. Canned beans need to only be heated briefly for hot recipes while they can be used as is for salads or prepared cold dishes like hummus.


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