It usually takes several hours to prepare authentic Punjabi Chole, but with my recipe, you can have delicious masala coated chickpeas on your plate in no time. This recipe for Instant Pot Chana Masala is from my cookbook, Indian Food Under Pressure, and I know you will absolutely love it!
What is Chana Masala?
Chana Masala, also known as Chole (pronounced Cho-lay) is a dish where chickpeas are cooked in a spicy, flavorful onion-tomato gravy. But not too much gravy. It’s a popular Indian street food with rich, complex flavors.
The spices are everything when it comes to making authentic Punjabi Chole. I have tested this recipe many, many times to perfect these spices and I know you will love this recipe. There are two spices in particular that in my opinion make this dish: dried mango powder (amchur) which adds tanginess and roasted cumin powder which adds depth and aroma to the dish.
If you’ve never heard of amchur powder, it’s made from unripe green mangoes and it has a tart and slightly fruity flavor. Roasted cumin powder on the other hand is highly aromatic and has a flavor that is far more intense than regular cumin. When a recipe calls for roasted cumin powder, please please please do not substitute it with regular cumin because you will definitely miss out and the recipe will not taste the way it should. You can buy roasted cumin powder either on amazon or at an Indian store, but it’s also really easy to make – just see my note at the bottom of the recipe!
This has been one of my favorite dishes – since childhood. Back in the day, most of my friends would beg their parents to take them to Pizza Hut or McD’s or some other fast food restaurant. Not me. When I was younger, I would beg my parents to pick me up some chole bhature (which means chickpea curry and fried doughy bread) from a nearby casual Indian restaurant. Ask any north Indian and they’ll tell you all about Chole Bhature – because it is so. darn. good. Especially when it’s served with sliced raw onion and spicy Indian pickles (achar). If I was ever on that “best thing I ever ate” show, I think my “thing” would be chole bhature.
These days I am gluten-free and can no longer eat bhature. If you are gluten-free, you can eat this own it’s own or serve it with my Instant Pot Perfect Basmati Rice or my 3-ingredient Paleo Naan. But just wait. One of these days, I will come up with a gluten-free recipe for bhatura.
When it came to testing the recipes for my cookbook – let me tell you, it was a family affair. I had to make sure I got approval from everyone, especially my Punjabi father. He is my biggest supporter and also my biggest food critic – especially when it comes to making good Indian food. Like many Indian parents, he has very high standards. I would make a recipe, have him taste it and give me notes, then remake the dish – over and over again. Here’s a picture of my sweet dad helping me “style” my chana masala for a photo shoot. This dish (along with the rest of my book) are all “dad-approved” which is just about the best recommendation one can get.
I hope you make and love this recipe for chana masala. And if you do, I hope you’ll also get my cookbook: Indian Food Under Pressure.
It usually takes several hours to prepare authentic Punjabi chole, but with this recipe, you can have delicious masala coated chickpeas on your plate in no time. The spices are key to making this curry, especially the dried mango powder (amchur) which adds tanginess and the roasted cumin powder which adds depth and aroma to the dish.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 2 tablespoons oil of choice
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons dried mango powder (amchur)
- 2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 black cardamom
- 2 cups water
- Cilantro leaves and red onion, garnish
- Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Press the sauté button. Add the oil and allow it to heat it up for a minute. Add the onion and bay leaf and stir-fry for 6-7 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown.
- Add the garlic, ginger, stir, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they break down.
- Add the spices, stir, then add the chickpeas and water.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 35 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
- Discard the black cardamom and the bay leaf, garnish with red onion and chopped cilantro.
- If you want a thicker curry you can mash it a bit.
- Roasted cumin powder is highly aromatic and has a more intense flavor than regular (unroasted) cumin. Do not substitute this with regular cumin as you won’t get the right favor
- To make roasted cumin powder: heat a skillet over low heat and dry roast cumin seeds (I usually do 1 cup) for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the color of the cumin changes to a dark brown. Turn off the heat and allow the cumin seeds to cool down. Place the cumin into a spice grinder and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight jar and use within 6-8 months for the most flavor.