Punjabi chana masala is usually served with a puffy fried bread called Bhatura in most Punjabi households. It is also used as an accompaniment to an Indian snack called Alloo Tikki. The difference between Punjabi chana masala and regular chana masala is the thickness of the dish.
Some of the key ingredients for chana masala are the whole spices. Whole black cardamom is one of those ingredients. The key to making really good authentic Punjabi chana masala is the spices that go into it – whole and ground.
Making the masala
Chana masala gets its name from a spice mix called “masala”. My masala is made by blending together 1 large red onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 red chili, and 1 inch of ginger. Roughly chop the onion, peel the ginger and garlic. Put all three ingredients and 1 red chili into a food processor. Add 4 tablespoons of water to the blender and blend to get a fine paste
Heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Once it’s hot, add 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds to the pan and let them pop. Add two whole black cardamom pods, 4 whole cloves, and 1 large whole cinnamon stick to the pan and let these cook for a couple of mins. This allows the oil to get fragrant. At this point, you can discard the cloves.
Once the cumin seeds have popped remove the pan from the heat and add the onion blend into the pot. Be careful because the liquid from the onions and the water that was added will make the oil splatter. Cook the onions for about 7-8 mins. This process takes time because you need the liquid to dry up as the onions cook. Once the onion mix has cooked, the color changes to a dark greenish-brown.
Once the onions have been cooked, it’s time to add the dry ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of coriander powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin powder, and 1 teaspoon of red chili powder (or paprika for a milder version) to the pot. Mix well and cook for about 2 mins allowing the spices to amalgamate.
Now we are ready to add the tomato paste. You can add 4 tablespoons of tomato paste to the pot directly, but I prefer to liquefy the tomato paste a little before I add it to the pot. Add the tomato paste to a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of water into the bowl. Mix well and then add it to the pan. This ensures that the tomato paste mixes well into the spice and forms an even masala. Cook for about 4-5 mins until you see the oil start to separate a little.
Now we are ready to marry the cooked chickpeas and the masala. Add 4 cups of cooked chickpeas to the pan and mix well. Allow the chickpeas and the masala to become one. Once the masala has been mixed into the chickpeas, add 1 cup of water. Mix well and let the chana masala cook for about 5-6 mins. At this point, you can add 1 tablespoon of ghee (if using).
This dish tastes best the next day. I usually cook it first thing in the morning and serve it for dinner that day. This gives the chana masala a few hours to sit and rest. The one thing about Indian food is that it always tastes better after a few hours or the next day.
Once it’s ready, finely chop some red (or white) onion and put it on top as you serve. You can add a few slivers of fresh ginger as well. Serve with any kind of Indian flatbread such as naan, bhatura, kulcha, or plain roti.
Punjabi Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)Course: EntreeCuisine: Indian CurryDifficulty: Easy
Chana masala made the authentic Punjabi way. It is the best kind you will ever make and eat. It’s rich and delicious and can be enjoyed with rice or any kind of Indian flatbread.
4 cups cooked chickpeas
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 large red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger grated
1 red chili
3 tablespoons water
1 large stick of cinnamon
2 black cardamom pods (whole)
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water (more if needed)
1 tablespoon of ghee (optional – skip for vegan version)
- Boil 4 cups of chickpeas or use canned chickpeas.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. Add all 3 things into a blender along with the red chili if using. Add the 4 tablespoons of water to the blender and blend everything into a thick paste.
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the whole cumin seeds to the pan. Allow them to pop.
- Add whole black cardamom, whole cloves, and whole cinnamon stick to the pan. Cook for about 2 mins allowing the oil to get really fragrant. You can discard the cloves at this point if you like.
- Add the blended onion mix to the pan and allow to cook for about 7-8 mins. This will allow the onions to cook. As the onions cook, they change colour to a greenish-brown colour.
- Now you can add all of the dry ingredients – garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and chili powder (or paprika) to the pan. Mix and cook for about 2 mins.
- Add the tomato paste into a small bowl and add 3 or so tablespoons of water to the bowl. Mix well to liquefy the tomato paste a little. Add this to the pan and mix well. Cook for about 4-5 mins. You will see the oil start to separate a little
- Once the oil starts to separate, add the boiled chickpeas to the pan. Mix well and allow the chickpeas and masala to marry.
- Serve with any kind of Indian flat bread.
– Check out other Entree recipes here.