This Home-style Chana Masala recipe is a quick and easy one-pot Indian curry with chickpeas and potatoes simmered in spices until meltingly tender. Chana masala, Chole masala, or simply Chole is a chickpea curry from in the Indian subcontinent. This delicious vegetarian curry can be on the table in 30 minutes!
My Home-style Chana Masala is:
- One-pot meal
- Instant pot/pressure cooker friendly
- Can be made on the stove top
- No soaking dried chickpeas
What is Chana Masala called in English?
To put it simply, Chana Masala is Chickpea Curry. Some may find this description reductive, since there are many styles of Chana Masala. You’ll never really find two recipes that are the same. Let’s explore a handful of these variations.
What are the different styles of Chana Masala?
Every Indian home has its’ favourite version of Chana Masala. Indeed, Chana Masala is popular throughout South Asia, prepared in hundreds of different ways depending on local cooking styles.
The most widely-known preparation of Chana Masala, at least by Western standards is the North-Indian type served up in Indian restaurants. Some lean more towards a street-style preparation, like the Old Delhi Chole served alongside samosas. Others may be simple, home-style preparations like Pindi Chole (a village favourite). Dhaba-style Chana Masala and Restaurant-style Chana Masala tend to be both rich and spicy.
South Indian Chana Masala comes with true restaurant flavours. It may incorporate curry leaves, and tamarind while the sweet, thickening characteristics of coconut runs through to balance the hot and sour flavours.
In other parts of the world
Lahori Chana or Cholay Masala is a famous Pakistani rendition of the chickpea wonder, using an abundance of green chillies and ginger. Aside from these, the recipe completely depends on who is preparing it. Some recipes call for onions, while others don’t. You may stumble upon recipes that rely on yoghurt for thickening, while other styles call for red lentils (masoor) to give the gravy a hearty texture.
You’ll find multiple overlaps in Chana Masala recipes from different regions and countries. Today, it is prepared throughout the Subcontinent, across the Indian Ocean, in parts of Africa and the Caribbean, as well as in the South Pacific.
Trinidad’s most iconic street food, Doubles champions the concept of Chole Bhature, seeing tender chickpea curry paired with fried bread. Between 1845 and 1917, indentured labourers from India were taken to many parts of the world, bringing with them their beautiful cuisines.
In the same way, you’ll find South African Chana Masala is different to an Indian restaurant preparation. You may see it inside a hollowed out loaf of bread as Bunny Chow; a dish that came about when Indian labourers and migrants arrived in Durban, South Africa.
What does Chana Masala taste like?
Party in your mouth! The key flavour notes of Chana Masala dance on a sliding scale of citrusy sour (thanks to the dried mango powder and coriander seeds), to chilli-hot, with additional warmth from fresh ginger. Indeed, this really is the dish to make when you’re looking for something hearty and flavoursome.
Why do you add potatoes?
I love adding soft cubes of potato to my Chana Masala, partly to fill it out and partly because the potato starch does a good job of thickening the gravy just enough to coat the chickpeas. Growing up eating Kenyan Indian-style Channa Bateta (cooked in coconut milk) has made chickpeas feel incomplete without potatoes by their side.
I vehemently do not believe there is such a thing as an ‘authentic’ preparation of Chana Masala. Every recipe is as different as the person who prepares it. I hope you enjoy mine.
Home-style Chana Masala Recipe
- 2x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
- 1 large potato, chopped into chunks
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 dried Kashmiri red chillies
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coarsely-ground coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 large onions, finely diced
- 150g plain yoghurt
- 1x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 200ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- Sliced green chillies (to garnish)
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander (to garnish)
1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or pressure pot. Add the bay leaves, dried chillies, cardamom, cumin, ground coriander, asafoetida, garlic and ginger. Sauté for a moment before adding onions and salt. Adding salt at this stage will help brown the onions faster. Sauté over a moderate heat until the onions are golden brown. This will take about 10 minutes.
2. Pour in the yoghurt and quickly stir in the chilli powder, amchur, turmeric and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer.
3. Tip in the chickpeas, potatoes and water. Bring to the boil.
4. Fix the lid onto the pressure pot or pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 15 minutes. Manually release the steam (be careful, it's hot). Remove the lid from the pot. Add the garam masala, coriander leaves, ginger juliennes, and optional sliced green chillies.
Serve with Bhatura or your favourite Indian bread or rice, onion salad and chutney or achaar of your choice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 655mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 13gSugar: 15gProtein: 15g