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Chole – Curried Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

Chole or  Chana  Masala is a  popular North India dish made  with  chickpeas/ Garbanzo Beans.  Chickpeas are  a good  source of  lean protein.  Garbano beans  and  flour is  used in soups, stews , curries , breads  and  deserts.  It is perfect to be  scooped  up with  any bread or  served over rice.   This dish is  so popular  that  the pre-packaged  Chole  Masala  is  available  in  almost  every super  market in India.Chole - Spicy Chickpea CurryWe loved Chole  Bature  as  a  snack.  Don’t  get me  wrong – I still love  it,  but now a  days I and DH  end up sharing  one :-).  Looking back   downing a  fully  puffed  football  sized  fry bread  seems a  bit  incredible- but  guess  when you are  18  and  active the  calorie  counts  didn’t matter.   A  fry bread  being   embraced  by the everyone is  by no means a  surprise, but   extending  the  love  to a  healthy  dish –  well that   says  something  ,  don’t  you think ?

Essentially chole  is   garbanzo beans  cooked  in  an  aromatic tomato onion  gravy.   The  mix of  spices  is  a  delight to the  taste buds. All the  Chole  mixes  in the  store shelves   have the  same  basic  ingredients,  with  each brand  adding  its own exotic touches like – black salt , anardana (pomegranate seeds) ,  amchur (dried  green mango powder)  and so on.  If  you find a  brand  you like,  as many do, use  that  as  the  base   and  adjust  the   spice  levels  as  you cook.


Read on for a step by step explanation  to make   fail proof  Punjabi Chole.   This  vegan  version is  full of  fresh flavors.  The  spices  are  rich   but not  overpowering. For  me  the  best part of  this  dish is  not the  masala , but  in  the  perfectly cooked  buttery  beans. For  this   reason I prefer  the  pale   garbazo beans in this  dish,  where  as  when  I make  the   Kerala  style Kadala Curry   the  beans  have  to  be the  dark skinned  ones.

The  base for  this   dish  is  onions .  Rough  chop the  onions  and  saute  in  a little  oil  along  with a couple of  cloves  and few cumin seeds. Once  it  begins  to  turn  color  add   the  sliced  ginger  and  garlic.  Stir  and  cook   till the  onions  turn  light  brown.  Turn off the  heat  and  cool  for  a  few  minutes . While the  onions  are  cooling   remove  the  seeds  from the  tomatoes  and  chop it  into big  chunks. Process the  tomatoes  in a  blender  and  set  the  puree  aside.

Transfer the cooled  onion to a  blender  jar  and pulse  till a  coarse  paste  is  formed.    Wipe  the pan  clean  and  heat  another  spoon of  oil in  it.  Add a  few  cumin seeds    and  let  it  crackle.  If  you  are a  fan of  Kasoori Methi, in the  dish  this  is  the   time  to add  it .   Wait for  the  fragrances  to  fill the  air.   Transfer  the  onion paste to the pan  and  stir  fry till oil begins  to  separate.  Reduce  the  heat  and  add  the  spices.  If  you  have a  favorite  brand of  chole Masala  use it , but  the  dish tastes  good  even  if made   with  just a  little  garam  masala.  Once  the  spices  are  heated  add  the  tomato  puree   and  let  it  cook until   the  mix  begins  to   turn  dry   and  the  oil begins  to  separate.  Mix  in  salt  according  to your taste.

Base For Chole

This is  the  time  to add the   beans.  For  precooked/ canned  beans  reserve 2 to 3  tablespoons of  the  beans  and stir in the  rest along  with   enough  water  to  cover  it.  Blend  or  mash the  reserved beans   and  a dd  to the  dish.  Mix  everything  together  and  cover  and  cook over  medium heat  for  10 minutes.  Taste  and  adjust  salt  and  spices.  If needed  add  more  water  and  reduce  heat  to low  and  simmer for  10 to 15  minutes until  the  gravy thickens  to desired  consistency.

Another  way to cook is  to  transfer  the  tomato onion paste  to a  pressure  cooker / instapot  along  with  the  beans  and  water.   This  does  not  require  precooking  of  the  beans.  Cook  according  to the  directions  for  beans  or about 6  to  10  pressure  release  whistles  for a buttery  soft  beans.  Or  you  set  the slow cooker  and  let  it  cook for   4  hours. Both these  options  have  the  advantage of using uncooked beans.

Garnish with  chopped  onions and  cilantro before  serving.



By Syama
Chickpeas  cooked  with  onions , tomatoes  and  an  assortment of  Indian  spices.  This is a  delicious  and   filling  curry  that is  perfect    with  Indian  breads  or  rice.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian


  • 2 C Cooked Garbanzo Beans/ Chickpeas See Notes
  • 2 Onions (Medium)
  • 1 Inch Fresh Ginger
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 2- 3 Tomatoes (Medium)
  • 3 Cloves
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Tsp Garam Masala See Notes
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 Tsp Red Chili Powder To Taste
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper Optional
  • 1 Pinch Carom Seeds/ Ajwain
  • 1 Pinch Asafoetida/Hing (Optional)
  • 1 Tsp Salt (or to Taste)
  • 3 Tbsp Oil
  • Few Cilantro


  • Chop the onions roughly to make up about 1 1/2 C chopped onions. Finely dice the remaining onions and set aside.
  • Cut the tomatoes crosswise and remove the seeds. Roughly chop and and process to a puree, in the blender. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the cloves and half the cumin seeds. Add the chopped onions as soon as the spices become aromatic. Stir fry for 2 minutes and add the garlic and sliced ginger. Saute until the onions begin to turn brown. Turn off the heat , cool for a minute and transfer to a blender jar. Process till the mix turns to a coarse paste.
  • Wipe the pan and heat 1 tsp oil in it. Add the remaining cumin seeds and carom seeds to it. When the seeds splutter add the onion paste. Keep the flame on medium and stir fry till the onion mix turns golden brown. If needed add 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil to prevent the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the powdered spices and tomato puree to this. Stir fry till the tomatoes turn color and the raw smell dissipates. A good rule of thumb will be to look for oil separating from the mix.
  • Reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of the beans and add the remaining to the pan along with enough water to cover beans. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spices. Mash the reserved beans (or process in the blender) and add to the chole, Cook uncovered until the gravy reaches desired thickness.
  • Garnish with finely chopped onions and cilantro and serve.


  • For an easier version add the onion paste , tomato puree and spices along with the soaked beans to a pressure cooker and cook for 6 whistles. Cool uncover and adjust spices.
  • A ready made Chana Masala / Chole Masala can be substituted for garam Masala and the other spices in the recipe
  • Canned Garbano beans works well in this recipe too - Drain and use two 8oz can of beans.
  • If the fresh tomatoes make the gravy too sour adjust by adding a pinch of jaggery or brown sugar

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

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Try Chole  is  one of my favorites – Amritsari Kulcha (Aloo Kulcha),  or  Naan  or  any of the other  flat breads  from the Indian subcontinent.

Aloo Kulcha



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