Punjabi Chole is perhaps one of the most popular vegetarian north-Indian dish. Creamy, spicy and slight tangy, this dish is a party in your mouth! To make this dish, Chickpeas, also called Garbanzo beans or Chana (in Hindi), are soaked overnight to re-hydrate, and then cooked with fresh onions, ginger, garlic and seasoned with a unique spice blend. Almost everyone I know has their own spin on Chole, and they all taste great, but what makes Punjabi Chole different and stand out, is the unique combination of garam masala, Anardana (Pomegranate) Powder, and amchur (dry mango powder), which gives it an earthy and slightly tart taste!
Different Cooking Processes
For the longest time, my Mom used to make Chole in a 2-step process. She would pressure cook the chickpeas with salt and turmeric for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, she would prepare the onion and aromatics masala, and then simmer everything together for another 10 minutes on medium heat. Years ago, when my kids were babies, and I had very little time to cook, I developed this recipe, which cut down the time and steps involved, while maintaining the same lip-smacking taste.
Punjabi Chole are best enjoyed with a deep-fried puffed flour bread, called Bhatura. Growing up, Chole-Bhature used to be our regular Sunday brunch. This happens to be my kid’s favorite Indian vegetarian meal, and it has now become a tradition in our home, to make it for our Diwali dinner. We like to enjoy it with some sweet and spicy lemon pickle . Yum! Chole also go really well with Kulcha, Puri, Naan or Cumin rice.
Chole or Chickpeas, take a very long time to cook on the stove-top. It would take around 45-50 mins to achieve the soft texture that we love in this recipe. Plus, you have to be there, stirring and keeping an eye on the stove. So, using my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot, or any stove-top pressure cooker, works great for this recipe and reduces the active cooking time significantly.
How to make this recipe in under 30 minutes
By using Canned Chickpeas, you can reduce the cooking time to less than half. Simply rinse out the canned chickpeas and add them to the pot as per instructions, and pressure cook everything for 6-8 minutes. Wait 10 minutes before releasing the pressure manually, open lid and you’re done!
Punjabi Chole | Punjabi Chana Masala vs. Chana Masala
These days, I often find, that restaurants use both these names interchangeably, but in my opinion, there is a difference in taste and spices used for these two dishes. In my family, Punjabi Chole/Punjabi Chana Masala is referred to the popular street food preparation found in Punjab and New Delhi. It’s distinguishing factors are a dark-brown curry or gravy, and a slight tart flavor, which is achieved by cooking Chole with a combination of dry-mango powder and dry pomegranate seeds powder. There is no turmeric and very little tomato used in this dish. Chana Masala on the other hand, is a tomato-onion rich gravy, with reddish-orange curry, that is a result of adding turmeric, red-chili powder and tomato puree. That being said, both taste awesome, so no matter which one you make, you can’t go wrong!
Sides that’ll pair well with Punjabi Chole
Punjabi Chole/Punjabi Chana Masala (Chickpeas Curry)Print Recipe
- 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and soaked for 8-10 hours, or, 1 14oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- 2 teaspoon ghee/ refined olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (1 inch ginger+6-7 cloves garlic, ground in food processor)
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- 2 green chillies, stem removed
- 1 Roma tomato, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Powder
- 2-3 teaspoon garam masala (depending on how strong yours is)
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
- 1 teaspoon Anardana (Pomegranate) Powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder (optional, adds flavor and for easy digestion)
- 1 black-tea bag, for color (English Breakfast/ Indian Tea, it's optional)
- 1.5-2 cups water, depending on your consistency preference
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Light squeeze of lime juice
Rinse and soak dried chickpeas or garbanzo beans in about 4 cups of water, overnight, or at least 8-10 hours. Strain and rinse them once again before cooking. Alternatively, use canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Rinse them out and strain them as well.
Heat ghee/oil on SAUTE mode, about 30 seconds, add cumin seeds. When cumin begins to splutter, add onions, ginger, garlic, and saute for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes and saute another minute. Add spices, chickpeas and water. Optionally, add one black-tea bag (English breakfast or any Indian tea bag). The addition of tea-bag gives great color to the curry. Close the lid, vent set to 'sealing', and pressure cook for 30-35 minutes at Bean or Manual mode. The time variation depends on how soft you like your chickpeas to be. I cook them for 35 minutes. If you're using canned chickpeas, reduce the cooking time to 6-8 minutes.
Wait for the pressure to release naturally and open the lid after the pin drops. Remove the tea-bag. Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash up a few beans. This makes the curry creamy and thick. Garnish with cilantro and a light squeeze of lime juice. Serve with Bhatura, Kulcha, Puri, Naan, or Basmati rice!