Chole, chana or chickpeas are a great source of healthy proteins, containing a good amount of fiber and iron and micronutrients like copper, magnesium, folate and vitamin B12. These are not only good on the nutrition front, but can outplay a number of dishes on the taste front, even in their simplest form. If you are on diet and don’t want to increase your calorie intake, just snack on roasted or boiled chanas. It keeps you satiated for a long time. If you are not worried about calories, make a whole lot of flavorful dishes from them like Chana masala or Amritsari chole, pindi chole, chana palak, aloo chole etc.
Chana masala is one of the most favorite delicacy relished not only in Punjab, but all over India. Be it any occasion like birthday, marriage, religious function etc, chole are surely going to show their presence. Served with various types of Indian breads like puris, bhatura, naan, paratha, kulcha, they make a scrumptious meal. They become the best accompaniment of samosa and tikki also. In my home, chole served with bhaturas is a favorite sunday morning brunch.
Chanas take a lot of time to cook. So overnight soaking is required to decrease the cooking time. An important tip: If you forget to soak chanas or your kids start demanding for chana masala unexpectedly, you can soak them in hot water for two hours and cook as usual. If we add baking soda during boiling, chanas turn out to be the perfect melt-in-the-mouth type. I personally do not prefer to add baking soda as it affects the nutritional value of chanas. But, when I have to make it for some special occasion, then I do add baking soda. Even my son says in a joking way, “Mama, please make non nutritious, unhygienic food.”
Authentic dark black color of chana masala comes from pomegranate skin, amla or tea decoction. Either or all of these could be used.
To get the unique aroma in your chana masala, prefer to use freshly roasted and ground spices. They not only impart flavor to chana masala, but add to the black color also. If in a hurry, you can use readymade chana masala also.
The tangy punch in chana masala comes from mango powder, pomegranate seeds and curd. I prefer to use tamarind paste at the time of serving to make them tangier or I simply serve onion dipped in tamarind paste along with them, so that everyone can adjust the sourness according to their liking.
Now, without wasting your time, collect the ingredients and make this wonderful speciality of Punjab.
Step Wise Pictorial Description Of Amritsari Chole/Chana Masala
Wash and soak chanas overnight. They will soak water and will become almost double in size.
Drain and wash them with fresh water. Add them to pressure cooker and add all the ingredients to be used for boiling of chole.
Pressure cook upto 5-6 whistles. They will look like this.
For preparing chana masala, take all the whole ingredients. Heat a griddle or pan.
Put the whole ingredients on it and dry roast all the spices till the color changes and a nice aroma is produced.
Cool the spices and grind them to a powder. This masala also imparts dark color to chana.
For amritsari chole preparation
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan.
Add chopped onion and saute till onions turn translucent.
Add ginger garlic paste and saute further for 1 minute.
Put ginger julienne, chopped green chilies and saute further
Add tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and salt. Stir it to mix the contents. I forgot to add bay leaves in the beginning, so added here.
Add ground chana masala and mix everything. Cook for another couple of minutes till masala starts leaving oil.
Add well beaten curd and mix well so that no lumps are formed. Mix in some kasuri methi.
Add ½ cup of water and give it a boil. Mix in the boiled chole.
Let them simmer on low flame for 4-5 minutes.
Garnish with ginger julienne and sliced chillies.
Serve hot with bhature, khatte aloo and onion dipped in imli.