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Chholey Masala (Chickpea curry) – Reinvented

August 11, 2010

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There’s something to be said about re-evaluating yourself once in a while. Having a re-look at where you’re heading, what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it. In all the madness of our lives and the quest to move on to the supposed next step, we miss out on the crucial act of taking a step back and really having a hard look at what we’re really doing.

Reinvented Chholey masala

Reinvented Chholey masala

I’m going to stop with my out-of-character philosophical musings here and get right to the point. A week ago, I took a step back and took a hard look at my recipe for Chholey Masala or Chickpea curry (see… I can be corny too). While me and the hubby have been enjoying it like this for a while now, I felt like I needed to step it up a bit. The dish seemed to lack a little something that was there in roadside eateries where I sometimes had the Garbanzo bean curry with fresh poori’s back home. After some much needed recipe-rack searching and modification in the order of steps I followed earlier, the result was a Chickpea curry that came quite close to what I remember having back home.

The trick was to cook the beans and make the curry base separately. Also, I guiltily gave in and bought a ready spice mix for the dish, instead of using my own blend of fresh spices. I thought using the spice mix would be enough flavor in itself but surprisingly, I had to add all my regular spices such as Chili powder, Turmeric powder and Coriander-Cumin powder as well. Read on to learn more.

Get a printable version of the recipe here.

You will need:

  • 1 cup Garbanzo or Chickpea beans, soaked overnight in a large bowl. OR you could use a can of cooked Garbanzo beans
  • A pressure cooker if using raw beans
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium size Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Ginger & Garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp Chholey Masala spice mix – available at any Indian grocery store. Any brand is good.
  • 1 tsp Red Chili powder
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin- Coriander powder (Available as a blend)
  • 1 tsp Amchur powder (dried, powdered mango powder)
  • 1/2 tsp Chaat Masala (available as a blend in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala (available as a blend in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt (Chaat Masala has some salt in it so go easy on the regular salt)
  • Chopped Coriander or Cilantro leaves and lemon wedges for garnishing
Reinvented Chholey Masala - 2

Isn't the color gorgeous?


  • If using raw beans – In a pressure cooker, cook the soaked beans with about 4 cups of water (do not throw away the water you soaked the beans in), with 2 dried Bay leaves for 3 whistles on medium heat. Then, lower the heat to low and cook for another 15 minutes
  • In a separate cooking pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Put in the cumin seeds when hot. When the seeds begin to crackle, add the onion and cook till they are soft and light brown in color
  • Then add the Ginger Garlic paste, mix well and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the chopped tomatoes, mix again, and allow to cook down on medium heat
  • When the tomatoes are soft and the whole mixture is mushy, add all the dry spices in, except for the Garam Masala
  • When the oil separates from this mixture, add the cooked chickpeas with the water it cooked in. If using canned beans, add a cup of water along with the cooked, drained beans.
  • Mix well and allow to simmer on medium to high heat. When the water content of the mixture reduces to a third, add in the Garam Masala, salt, and chopped coriander leaves

Serve hot with lemon wedges, and freshly heated naan or poori’s.

How have you reinvented yourself lately? Share your kitchen reinvention stories here!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2010 4:33 pm

    Looks certainly yummy! I do it the same way, but chat masala was an interesting addition. But one thing that always varies is the softness of the there a method to making them butter soft always?

    • August 11, 2010 5:32 pm

      Cook the chickpeas the way I’ve mentioned and the channa will be soft. Also, when you add it to the curry base and further cook to burn off excess water, they get a little more soft, apart from absorbing the flavors in the curry base. Glad you liked the post! And thanks for adding me to your list! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. August 11, 2010 4:34 pm

    Btw, thats a great blog you have..Am adding you to my blogroll.

  3. August 11, 2010 4:42 pm

    Just bumped into your blog today.
    I like the color of the curry!

  4. August 13, 2010 2:51 pm

    I think we have some chole masala thing going on here because that was the last time I commented.

    Anyway, your recipe here is pretty much the same as I make it but in quest of getting the authentic taste, I have discovered two things, which makes a difference in how they come out.

    1. I try using Indian chickpeas and not the French Garbanzo beans . They are same thing for sure, but the Indian variety is slightly smaller and nuttier in flavour which gives more depth to dish.
    2. I do fry the onions to a slightly darker brown than just a light brown. This also gives it a better color and flavor.

  5. Priyanka permalink
    August 18, 2010 12:32 pm

    hi i have 2 things to share. good and bad…tried this recipe last weekend n my ma loved it. I usually don’t cook bt thought of surprising my ma after reading this recipe. good news is my ma was super happy n the bad news is she wants me to cook every sat and wants to know the menu right now ๐Ÿ™‚

    thanks ๐Ÿ™‚


    • August 18, 2010 12:43 pm

      Well if your mother loved it, then I consider this recipe a success ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for dropping a line and sharing your little story Priyanka. You reminded me of my own mother and what she felt when she had food made by me the first time. And cooking for mothers is the best no? ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Swati permalink
    August 25, 2010 6:03 am

    Hey Sabera!
    I keep reading your blog off & on when I Google the net for recipes…I made the choley as per your recipe, but with less oil (3 tsp instead of tbsp) & a small variation – i used ajwain in the tadka instead of jeera and it gave a lovely distinct flavour. Maybe you could try that.
    And I made your lauki-channa dal recipe this morning…tho i cheated a bit & cut the lauki pieces small so they would cook faster & i could rush to office. And I’m happy to report that it came out really well.
    Btw, how do you know Vibha Karnik? She has been my friend since high school & I love her post on bisi bele bhaath..
    Keep writing..

    • August 25, 2010 4:59 pm

      Thanks so much for checking out OneLifeToEat Swati! And I’m flattered that you actually tried my recipes ๐Ÿ™‚ Ajwain certainly sounds likes a great twist. Will try it out.

      Vibha was my senior in Business school in Pune, India. The amazing part is, we didn’t talk that much when we were in school, and after I moved to the US, we bonded really well ๐Ÿ™‚


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