Punjabi Chole is perhaps one of the most popular vegetarian north-Indian food dish. Creamy, spicy and slight tangy, this dish is a perfect umami of flavors!
To make this dish, Chickpeas, also called Garbanzo beans or Chana (in Hindi), are soaked overnight, and then cooked with fresh onions, ginger, garlic and seasoned with toasted garam masala blend.
Almost everyone I know has their own spin on Chole, and they all taste great.
But, what makes authentic 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!
Simpler than Traditional Punjabi Chole Recipe
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.
Cooking Punjabi Chole in Instant Pot Pressure Cooker vs. Stove
Chole or Chickpeas, like any legume, take a very long time to cook on the stove-top.
It would take me around 50-60 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, I use my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot. Any pressure cooker would work great for this recipe and reduce 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.
I simply rinse out the canned chickpeas and add them to the pot as per instructions, and pressure cook everything for 5 minutes.
I wait 10 minutes and then release the remaining pressure manually, and open the lid after the pin drops.
What is the difference between Punjabi Chole and 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.
Like any classic recipe, there are a zillion variations of this dish.
Here are the differences based on how I’ve seen it being cooked in my extended family. These recipes have been passed on over a few generations now:
Punjabi Chole/ Punjabi Chana Masala/ Chole is referred to the popular street-food style preparation of chickpeas. You can find some of the most authentic preparations in and around Punjab and New Delhi.
It’s distinguishing factors is a dark-brown curry or gravy, and a slight tangy flavor.
I don’t add any turmeric, and very little tomato in this dish.
Chana Masala on the other hand, is a tomato-onion rich gravy, with a iconic reddish-orange curry. I get that color by adding turmeric, red-chili powder and tomato puree.
That being said, both curries awesome, so no matter which one you make, you can’t go wrong!
Serving Suggestion for Punjabi Chole
Punjabi Chole masala are best enjoyed with a puffed fry bread, called Bhatura (check out my recipe for Bhatura).
Growing up, Chole Bhature used to be my family’s 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.
Pairing Suggestions for Punjabi Chole
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Punjabi Chole | Punjabi Chana Masala | Chickpeas Curry
- 1 cup dried chickpeas rinsed and soaked for 8-10 hours or 1 14oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 2 teaspoon ghee or refined olive oil for vegan
- 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 teaspoon garam masala add more, depending on how strong yours is
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 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 cups water add more, depending on your consistency preference
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 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 in the instant pot, 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!