Choley Masala

Mallika Basu - Choley Masala

Choley Masala, quite simply, is chickpea curry. In an age of overindulgence, this silky smooth onion and tomato gravy with chickpeas nestling in it is a perennial favourite. So much so that it regularly makes an appearance at my festive meals like Diwali, dinner parties and the odd weekday dinner in front of the TV. There are many ways to cook Choley, also called Chana Masala, but my recipe hasn't changed since my student days, when said beans came out of a tin and went straight into a spice paste. Mother refers to the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala that goes into this as the "usual masalas". Quite. But with an outcome that will delight. In truth, there is no need to complicate this recipe with gazillion ingredients. I do grind the onion, ginger and garlic into a paste to get a thicker curry base, but by all means use your fine motor skills to chop finely away. You won't be complaining when you tuck these babies into hot buttered rotis.


First peel and grind the onion, ginger and garlic in a small hand blender. If you don’t have a blender, finely chop the onion and grate the ginger and garlic. Boil a kettle full of water and keep it handy.

Now bring the oil to heat in a pan on high and when it’s sizzling, add the onion, ginger and garlic. Sprinkle over half a teaspoon of salt and saute for 10-15 minutes. If the mixture gets stuck to the bottom of the pan, add two tablespoons of water and scrape it off.

Next, add all the spice powders bar the garam masala. Mix it all well and then add the tomato puree. Stir through, then add half a cup of water, lower the heat to a high simmer and cook for another five -10 minutes until the water evaporates and oil starts oozing through the spice paste.

Then drain and toss in the chickpeas and stir the spices through. Add a cup of water, bring it to boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until oil floats to the surface.

Finish by adding salt to your taste, and mixing in the garam masala and amchoor. The only way to eat Choley Masala is scooped into buttered rotis methinks. Thank me later!

11 responses to “Choley Masala”

  1. ann says:

    I can almost taste this and most certainly will when I get out to buy some fresh ginger.
    Thank you.

  2. Nitin Tyagi says:

    I am the fan of this spicy dish. Lovable reciepe for making chana masala or chole.

  3. Jen says:

    Made this dish this evening – delicious and went down a storm with my kids. Thank you!

  4. Very nice recipe and thanks for sharing it.

  5. Its Looking too yummy, I feeling hungry now! Well information you mentioned are great, its easy to understand to all readers.

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  7. Wow Looking delicious now I feeling hungry, i will make same dish at my home.
    Thanks for sharing to all.

    You are most welcome! M x

  8. Sim says:

    Question- I am of Punjabi descent and have always known the onions to be cooked down first (meat about 45- 50 mins until a dark brown, and for veg slightly less- you want them just caramelised) and then the ginger, garlic, chills are added.
    Your recipe and a few other online recipes (but not all) suggest adding onions, garlic and ginger at the same time..
    I am interested to understand how it impacts the flavour and the justification- I am not saying my way is the right way at all and certainly don’t know the reason why we do the onions first- I just grew up thinking this was the norm,
    Would be interested in the science from Malika and fellow Asians (Indians/ Pakistani’s)
    On a separate note, we always add tamarind to give a tangy flavour, again this was left out- is this just personal preference?
    Thank you!

    Hi there, I find it depends on the depth and colour of the curry you want later. With choley, it’s not entirely necessary but with pindi chana a must I would say. Also, this is not the Punjabi Chole you are thinking of. My mother’s family are all Dilliwalleh’s based in Delhi, so this is a much more lightweight everyday chickpea curry. Mango powder or lemon juice does the trick at the end. I really hope this helps! M x

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