Chana Masala (or Chole Masala) is a typical Punjabi dish but is enjoyed throughout India. This delicious vegetarian recipe consists of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) simmered slowly in a rich aromatic tomato based curry. Traditionally, dried chickpeas are soaked overnight and then cooked in a pressure cooker until softened. Although totally worth the extra effort, my simple recipe skips this step by using canned chickpeas which are easily available in any large grocery store. This recipe is perfect for entertaining and can be made well in advance.
Chana Masala is traditionally eaten with a delicious Indian flatbread known as Bhatura. Bhaturas are similar to naans but are deep fried, whereas naans are baked in a tandoor oven. In my humble opinion, Chana Masala works well with any type of Indian flatbread, rice or pulao dish. It is simply that good.
CHANA MASALA (or Chole Masala)
2 (10 ounce size) cans of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed well
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
2 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chili powder, to taste
2-3 tbsp ghee or clarified butter (or you can use vegetable or canola oil)
salt, to taste
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large soup pot on medium high heat, add the ghee. When hot, add the onions and stir fry until lightly golden brown. Now add the ginger, garlic & green chilies. Stir fry for another minute or two and then add the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder & salt). Stir until well combined, fry for a few more minutes and then add the tomatoes & tomato paste. Keep stir frying until the tomatoes have complete broken down, this may take up to 6-8 minutes. Now add the chickpeas, along with enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and let simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Make any final adjustments to the seasonings, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with Indian flatbreads and rice.