Popular in Northern India and Pakistan, chana or chole (cho-lay) masala is made in a variety of ways. It can be cooked on the dry side, or with a sour tang, but here I’ve made it richer with lite coconut milk, and served it with a spoonful of mango chutney for a sweet/hot finish. Serve over fragrant rice, with naan or pappadums, etc. I love the hint of cinnamon and other floral notes in Garam Masala, which can be found in most grocery stores in the regular spice section. I’ve added a few other spices to round out the chana-spice flavor profile. Canned chickpeas make this a more-convenient weeknight supper, but it’s delicious enough for company. Please check out the Indian Category on this site for other recipes, including Dal Makhani and a Hawaiian Coconut Curry.
CHANA MASALA OR CHOLE MASALA
Makes about six servings
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
one medium onion, diced
1 Tablespoon finely-grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon amchoor (amchur, dried mango powder) (optional)
1 Tablespoon tamarind paste (optional)
1 large tomato seeded and diced
15 oz. can lite coconut milk (or water)
2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
chutney, such as Patak’s Mango Chutney (found in many regular grocery stores)
In a medium-to-large saucepan or small stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and ginger, and turn heat down a click. Cook until onions are beginning to brown, stirring often. Stir in spices and garlic, and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Add tamarind (if using), tomato, coconut milk and garbanzos, and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in salt. With a potato masher, mash at least half the chickpeas, so the mixture begins to look finer and thicker. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes. Pick out the cloves and discard them. Add a teaspoon of chutney on each serving, and serve with naan bread, pappadums, Basmati rice, etc. When reheating, I stir in a little water for better consistency. Can be made a day ahead.
NOTES: My favorite brand of tamarind paste is CTF “Pure Fresh Tamarind,” it comes in a 14 oz. plastic jar with blue label and blue lid. Chole (cho-lay) means chickpea curry, and Chana means chickpeas or white garbanzos (as opposed to black). I like the Garam Masala spice blend from Penzeys, but any will do. If tomatoes are out of season, I would not hesitate to use a can of chopped tomatoes drained well.
Instead of using a thickener, just mash some of the chickpeas like some Indian cooks do.