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Chenna Masala

Ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml)

for pressure cooking chole or chana
  • 1 cup dried white chickpeas OR 200 grams white chickpeas (garbanzo beans, kabuli chana or safed chole)
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water for pressure cooking the chickpeas
  • 2 to 3 dried amla OR indian gooseberry or 1 black tea bag, optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt or add as required
ingredients for chana masala gravy
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 small garlic cloves + ½ inch ginger, crushed to a paste in a mortar-pestle or ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder optional
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder), optional and only to be added when you do not have dry pomegranate seeds
  • 2 to 3 green chilies slit
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water or the stock in which the chickpeas were cooked
  • 1.5 to 2 tablespoon oil
  • salt as required
spices for chana masala
  • 2 black cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 to 4 black peppers (sabut kali mirch)
  • 2 cloves (lavang)
  • 1 medium sized tej patta (indian bay leaf) or 2 small tej patta
  • ¼ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (dhania)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • ½ teaspoon dry pomegranate seeds (anardana)
  • 1 to 2 kashmiri dry red chilies (sookhi kashmiri lal mirch)
for garnishing chana masala
  • some chopped coriander leaves (dhania patta)
  • ½ inch ginger (adrak) julienne
  • 1 medium onion sliced or chopped
  • 1 medium tomato sliced or chopped
  • 1 lime (nimbu) sliced or quartered

how to make

soaking and cooking chana
  1. rinse and soak the chole (chickpeas) in enough water overnight. add enough amount of water as the chole increase in size after soaking it. rinse the soaked chickpeas.
  2. 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.
  3. in a pressure cooker add the chole along with the 3 to 4 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. taj tea bags work very well. then add water
  4. season with salt and pressure cook the chana for 12 to 15 whistles. the chana should be cooked well an softened. the chole should be soft when you mash it with a spoon. the chana should not give you a bite when you eat it.

roasting spices for making chana masala
  1. In a pan, take all the whole spices for the chole masala mentioned above and on a low heat begin to roast them.
  2. stir often and roast the spices till they get extra 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.
  3. let these roasted spices cool and then grind them finely in a coffee grinder or in a dry grinder.

  4. by now the chana will be cooked. you will see a darker brown shade in the safed (white chana). remove the amla pieces which would have softened by now or the tea bag from the stock.
making chana masala
  1. heat oil in a pan or kadai. add ginger-garlic paste and saute till their raw aroma goes away.

  2. then add chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent or light brown.
  3. add tomatoes & saute them till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala.
  4. then add the powdered chole masala that we ground, along with the red chili powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder (optional).
  5. stir the dry masala and then add slit green chilies
  6. add the cooked chole. stir well.
  7. add salt. then add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the stock in which the chana was boiled. you can also add water instead.

  8. stir and cover the chana.
cooking chana masala
  1. simmer chole masala on a low to medium flame. you can also cook without the lid.

  2. the chole masala gravy will thicken and reduce. mash a few chana. this will help thicken the chana masala gravy.

  3. simmer till you get the consistency you prefer. the chana masala consistency is not thin, but medium consistency or dry.

  4. in case, you have not added dry pomegranate seeds while roasting the spices, then you need to add amchur powder (dry mango powder) now. stir the gravy well.
  5. garnish chole masala with coriander leaves & ginger julienne.
  6. serve the punjabi chole recipe with kulchas, bhaturas, pooris, rotis, along with sliced onions, tomatoes and lime.

  7. this chickpea curry also tastes good with steamed rice or jeera rice.