Punjabi Chole/Chana Masala
Photo features Poonam's mom, with her handwritten recipe for Chickpea (Chole Masala) Curry. Enjoy!
I learned to boil water at the age of 23 when I started my first job that was about 2 days' train journey from home-totally true! I quickly learned that I needed to cook as I had very limited means with which to provide myself 'real' food. What followed were old-fashioned, snail-mail letters and phone calls with my mom to get her recipes, techniques and insight. I also started really paying attention to other people as they cooked- specifically my colleagues and the people from the villages in which I worked. This journey of appreciating the art of cooking connected me to my mom in powerful and poignant ways (I guess we discover our connects with our mothers in often unsuspecting and common place things!).
My sister and I always reminisce about the vibrant tastes and smells from our Ma's kitchen! After all, food is a language of love. Food has a way of storytelling, and these stories need to be nourished and cultivated to nurture those who come after us.
In a way, Sustainable Threads' focus on the home came about quite organically but it is rooted in the art of storytelling through the home and most especially through what's on the table for all to share.
Punjabi Chole Masala or Chana Masala is a hugely popular curry dish from India. I have tweaked the recipe. I should mention here that my mother’s style of cooking is often based on ‘andaz’ (eyeballing) measurements. Please add or reduce the spices according to your taste.
2 tsp Vegetable Oil
1 cup chopped Onion
3/4 tsp whole Cumin Seeds
2-3 whole Bay Leaves
½ tsp Ginger paste
½ tsp Garlic paste
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Red Chili powder, or as per taste
Salt as per taste
Pinch of Asafoetida (Hing) (optional)
1 cup Chickpeas
4 cups water (including drained Chickpea water)
3 tsp Chana Masala powder
2 tsp Dry Mango (Amchur) powder and an additional 1/8 tsp as seasoning at the end
2 tbsp chopped Cilantro for garnish
A few chopped Mint Leaves (optional)
Soak the Chickpeas overnight (7-8 hours) in enough water to cover them.
In a pressure cooker, heat Vegetable Oil. Once hot add Asafoetida if using, and Cumin Seeds. Once the Cumin Seeds start to splutter, add Bay Leaves. Next, add chopped Onion. Fry the Onion until light golden brown in color. Add Ginger and Garlic pastes and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
*You may cook this in an instant pot, too. Just put all the ingredients as suggested in the pressure cooker and then cook it on the bean/ chili setting in the instant pot.
Add the dry spices (other than Chana masala and Dry Mango powder) and Salt at this point and mix for 1-2 minutes.
Add the soaked and drained Chickpeas. Do not throw away the water once you have drained the Chickpeas. Now add water, including the drained water to make up the 4 cups of water.
Pressure cook on a high flame until the pressure cooker whistles once, then lower the flame to medium and let the Chickpeas cook for another 40 minutes. Remove the cooker from heat and allow it to cool down. Once the cooker has naturally released pressure, open it and check the Chickpeas. The Chickpeas should be soft enough to be able to crush them easily with your fingers or smash them with a spoon. If not, pressure cook until the cooker whistles 2 more times.
After the Chickpeas are soft, add Chana Masala and Dry Mango powder and cook without the lid for 3-4 minutes.
Garnish with the Cilantro and if using, the optional Mint Leaves. Finally, sprinkle 1/8th tsp of the Dry Mango powder evenly.
Enjoy Chole or Chana Masala with rice, flat bread, dinner rolls or any bread of your choice!
Add-on: You can serve it with chopped raw Onion and a few Lime wedges on the side.