Chole Masala (Spicy and Tangy Chickpeas Curry)

This chickpeas-based curry is a popular Indian dish, which is typically served with pooris or bhatura (both flat breads). This curry is a gorgeous blend of whole and ground spices with a hint of tanginess. Chole masala originated in North India, and is widely popular across the country.

This dish was a regular feature in my home. As a I child, I used to look forward to the days when my mum made chole masla; it was served hot with freshly made puffed pooris and a wedge of lemon on the side.

Chole masala can be made with gravy or semi dry, depending on your preference. I like my chole less watery.


  • Chickpeas – 1 1/2 cups
  • Onion – 2 large
  • Ginger- 1 inch piece, julienned
  • Tomato purée – 2 1/2 cups
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cloves – 2
  • Cardamom – 2
  • Tea bags – 2
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tspn
  • Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
  • Aamchur/ dry mango powder – 1/2 tspn
  • Tamarind paste – 1/4 tspn
  • Chole masala powder – 3 tspns
  • Kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) – 1 tspn
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tblspn, chopped
  • Water – 4 cups
  • Salt – To taste
  • Oil – 2 Tblspns


Prep: Soak chickpeas in water overnight for 8 to 12 hours.

  1. Drain the water in which the chickpeas have been soaking.
  2. Place the soaked chickpeas in a pressure cooker.
  3. Pour 4 cups of water. Along with it add cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and chickpeas.
  4. Cover pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles.
  5. While the chickpeas are cooking, chop one whole onion finely.
  6. Cut the other onion into thin round slices. Keep aside.
  7. Once the cooker’s pressure settles, discard the whole spices and tea bags.
  8. Strain the water from the chickpeas, and reserve the stock to make the gravy.
  9. Heat oil in a skillet or pot, add chopped onions and fry till translucent.
  10. While the onions are cooking, add a few pieces of julienned ginger.
  11. Once the ginger is fragrant, add tomato purée.
  12. Allow it to cook so the raw smell of tomatoes is gone, and till oil separates from the purée.
  13. To this, add the dry spices excluding kasoori methi and tamarind paste.
  14. Stir to combine the spices and tomato-onion mixture.
  15. Add some of the strained chickpeas stock to thin the gravy down.
  16. Bring it to a boil. Add the boiled chickpeas. Mix well.
  17. At this stage, add salt, and more stock optionally to make the gravy dilute.
  18. Crush and sprinkle kasoori methi in the curry.
  19. Cover and cook on medium-low for 10 minutes.
  20. After the said time, the gravy would have reduced a bit.
  21. You could leave it at that if you want your curry semi-dry or add 1/2 to 1 cup water and proceed cooking it for 5 to 7 minutes.
  22. Whichever option you choose, once the curry had achieved the desired consistency, add slices onions and the remaining julienned ginger pieces on top of the curry.
  23. Additionally, garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Cover and keep the vessel on low flame for 2 minutes.
  24. Once done, turn the stove off and serve hot chole masala with flat breads or steamed white rice.


  1. This recipe does not require garlic. However if you choose to include it, add garlic paste while the chopped onions are cooking.
  2. If you don’t have tea bags, boil tea. Strain the tea and use the water in the gravy.
  3. Typically, anardana powder (powdered pomegranate seeds) is added. The chole masala powder I used, contained the ingredient so I skipped it.
  4. If you think the dish is too tangy for you, avoid using the tamarind paste.
  5. To make the curry more indulgent, cook it in ghee or butter.

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