Mamta's Kitchen

Chickpea Curry Masala in a Spicy Sauce (Pindi Cholae) - 1

Chana Masala or Chatpate Chole or Pindi Chole - 1

Mamta Gupta

This delicious dish comes from Punjab region of Northern India. This dish does not have turmeric. To give it it's authentic dark colour, you can add a tsp. tea leaves tied in muslin while boiling. It is delicious served with any of the Indian breads like Kulcha 1, Bhatura, Poori, Nan, Tandoori Roti, Chapatti and Plain Parathas. Serves 6


  • 500 gm. chick dry peas or 800 gm. tinned

  • A large pinch of soda bicarbonate

  • 2 onions

  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger

  • 1-3 cloves of garlic (optional)

  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil

  • Whole spices:

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1-2 large, brown cardamoms

  • 4 cloves

  • 5-6 peppers

  • 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon

  • Ground spices:

  • 1 tsp. of coriander powder

  • 1/2 tsp. Garam Masala

  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp. chilli powder

  • 1 cup strong black tea (optional). See notes.

  • 1/2 tsp. mango powder (amchoor)/anardana (dried pomegranate seeds) powder. You can also use 2 tbsp. tamarind paste, adjusted to taste.

  • 1-2 tsp. ready made Chana masala (this masala is specifically for making this dish, is used by most professional Cholae walss and it is sold in almost all Indian stores)

  • Salt to taste

  • For garnish:

  • A bunch of coriander leaves, washed and chopped finely.

  • 3-4 green chillies, wash, dried and chopped finely.

  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced finely.

  • 1 lemon, sliced in thin slices.


  1. If using dry chickpeas, clean, wash & soak them overnight in water to which soda-bicarb has been added. I often omit soda-bicarb, though it is traditionally used.

  2. Boil them briskly in same water for 60 minutes or longer, until soft. Or cook in a pressure cooker, for 15-20 minutes. Open pressure cooker only when it is cool. If using tinned chickpeas, drain and rinse them (these don’t need boiling).

  3. While chickpeas are boiling, peel, wash and chop onion, ginger and garlic finely by hand or together in a food processor.

  4. Measure whole spices and keep aside.

  5. Measure ground spices and keep aside.

  6. Crush some of the boiled chick peas gently. This makes the curry gravy thicker.

  7. Heat oil in a pan & add cumin seeds and a pinch of asafoetida powder. When the seeds splutter, add all remaining whole spices and fry for 10-15 seconds.

  8. Add onions, garlic and ginger and fry until golden.

  9. Add ground spices, stir for a few seconds.

  10. Add chick peas and salt. Mix thoroughly and cook for a few minute. You may need to add 1-2 cups of water. I often add a cup of black tea, to give chickpeas a darker colour; see notes. This dish does not have a lot of gravy/sauce but should be moist looking; chickpeas coated in a thick sauce.

  11. Turn off the heat.

  12. Add coriander leaves and mix, saving a few for garnish.

  13. Serve garnished with sliced onions and the rest of coriander leaves, with Kulcha 1 or Kulcha 2 or Bhatoora or Nan or Tandoori Roti or any of the other breads mentioned above or even with fresh bread rolls.

  14. Thinly sliced green chillies, thinly sliced onions and slices of lemon can also be served alongside, for people to help themselves to extra garnish.

  15. Also see Chat Selection.


  • Adding brewed tea to the water during boiling chickpeas, gives a darker, more restaurant curry like colour. You can also use it for making pilaf/pulao and biryani. I learnt this when I was a teenager, from a young cook my mum used to have. He had worked in a restaurant and told my mum that the cook there used to colour all sorts of dishes.

  • Variations include addition of spring onions or chopped tomatoes at final step.

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