Chole Masala (Punjabi Chole Recipe)This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.
This homemade authentic chole masala recipe (also known as chana masala or Punjabi chole), tastes like something you’d order from a fantastic Indian restaurant. Protein packed chickpeas are simmered in a spiced onion tomato gravy and garnished with fresh herbs. It’s rich, flavorful and super satisfying, with the perfect amount of heat. It also happens to be healthy, gluten-free, and naturally vegan too!
This vegan chole masala recipe might be one of my favorite Indian dishes of all time. I’ve made a lot of versions of chana masala in the past, but I never felt like it was the “perfect” Punjabi chole recipe … until now!
This one pot meal is high in protein, and is ready in just 40 minutes when cooked on the stovetop. There are also variety of options to serve with this vegan chickpea curry! Some of my favorites include:
- Grains: You can serve it with white rice, basmati rice, jeera rice, brown rice, or even this pressure cooker quinoa for more whole grains and fiber. For a fancier side dish, try this vegan biryani.
- Whole Wheat Naan or Whole Wheat Tortillas (and if you can find it – sprouted wheat tortillas)
- Guyanese Roti or Vegan Naan
- Mango chutney or any favorite chutney for a garnish
- With raita or whole milk greek yogurt (or whole milk plain yogurt) on the side
- With a side dish of these Indian vegetables or cauliflower sabji
This restaurant style chole masala recipe tastes just like traditional chana masala, but the best part is it’s super healthy for you! It doesn’t use any cream or butter, which makes it 100% vegan and gluten free.
It’s rich, flavorful, with just the right amount of heat and spice, and works great for meal prep or an easy family dinner. I promise, this will become your new favorite chickpea curry recipe to make!
👩🏽🍳 Why This Recipe Works
- Super easy recipe
- One pot meal
- Chickpea vegan curry that’s also gluten free
- Healthy and nutritious
- Protein rich
- Authentic chana masala recipe
- Full of warm, flavorful spices
- Great for the whole family
- Pair with your favorite sides or enjoy all on its own!
- Best chole recipe ever!
Latest Recipe Video!
This Punjabi chole masala recipe is so easy to make! It requires simple ingredients and a handful of spices, all of which can be found at most regular grocery stores, online, and in Indian grocery stores. Here’s what you need:
- Olive Oil: Most Punjabi chana masala recipes use ghee, which is just clarified butter. We chose olive oil instead to make this recipe vegan. Coconut oil would also work well.
- Onions, Garlic And Ginger: You could also use ginger garlic paste instead of the separate minced garlic and ginger.
- Spices: We used cumin seeds, ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, ground turmeric, smoked paprika, regular paprika, garam masala, and a little salt to provide a depth of flavor in this Indian chole curry recipe. You can also use a chole spice powder or curry powder if you don’t have all of these spices, but the flavor of the dish will be slightly different.
- Tomatoes: We used canned tomatoes because they’re canned when they’re in season and the most ripe, so they typically have great flavor. You can also use fresh medium tomatoes if you prefer. Tomatoes provide the base of the sauce in this easy chickpea curry without coconut milk.
- Chickpeas: We used canned chickpeas to save on prep time! You can also make this with dry chickpeas, you’ll just have to soak them overnight first, and I would recommend pressure cooking them before adding them to this recipe.
- Lime Juice And Fresh Coriander Leaves: Optional, for garnish, but adds a nice tang and acidity to the sauce! A squeeze of lemon juice would also work.
This simple chickpea curry with no coconut milk is so easy to make and is ready in just 40 minutes! Here’s how to make chole masala:
Saute Aromatics: Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven on high heat. Add cumin seeds and as soon as they start popping, add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat until caramelized and lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Essentially, you want that “raw smell” of the onions to disappear and become slightly sweet.
Add Spices: Add the coriander, cumin powder, cayenne, turmeric, paprika/smoked paprika, and garam masala.
Add Chickpeas: Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes + juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water, garbanzo beans, and salt.
Cook: Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to make sure this easy chana masala doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Serve these curried chickpeas warm, garnished with some lime or fresh cilantro!
How To Make Your Own Homemade Chole Masala Powder
If you want to save time, you can make your own chana masala powder and store it in an airtight container in your pantry, and then you can just use that spice blend anytime you want to make this easy vegan chickpea curry recipe! Here is how to make your own chole masala powder at home:
- 3 tablespoons coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cayenne pepper or red chili powder to taste
- Optional additions: ground turmeric powder, paprika, garam masala
You can also use the equivalent whole spices, dry roast them, and grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder if you prefer!
💭 Expert Tips
- Don’t forget to toast your spices! In order to get the full flavor of this curry chickpea recipe, be sure to toast the cumin seeds before adding the onions. When you hear the seeds begin to pop in the oil that’s when you know it’s time to add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Make sure to also add the other spices before adding the tomatoes and other ingredients to give them a little time to roast as well.
- For a little more tanginess, add a squeeze of lime juice or a little bit of dry mango powder (amchur powder) to taste. You can find amchur powder at the Indian store or online.
- For a thicker curry, you can mash some of the chickpeas in the tomato onion gravy before serving.
- If you don’t have whole tomatoes canned, you can also use the same size can of diced tomatoes for this easy chole recipe.
- Cook the chickpeas properly: Cook the chickpeas until they are tender but not mushy. Overcooked chickpeas will become too soft and will lose their texture.
- Chana Aloo Masala: For a twist on this chole with canned chickpeas, throw in some potatoes and make this into a chole masala with aloo (or potatoes!)
- Indian Chickpea Coconut Curry: Add 8oz coconut milk to the tomato onion mixture as it’s cooking. Garnish with some shredded coconut!
- Chole Bhature: Chole bhature is a Punjabi street food dish, where basically chole curry is served alongside a bhatura (bhature is plural). A bhatura is a puffed Indian bread that is deep fried and made with leavened dough. You can also serve it with poori, which is a deep fried unleavened bread.
- Add Some Greens: For some extra greens, you can add 6 ounces of chopped baby spinach to this recipe. You can add them at the last 10 minutes of cooking, and let them wilt on their own while this creamy chickpea curry is simmering.
- Make It For Kids: Most kids will enjoy this pindi chole recipe with canned chickpeas. You can serve it to them with some naan, rice, and a scoop of plain, organic whole milk yogurt. Yogurt works especially well if your kids are sensitive to spies, as it helps cool down the dish and tames the spice. You could also just cut back on the spices themselves in the dish when you’re preparing it (e.g. use half the quantity of each spice listed in the recipe). This dish isn’t overly spicy, but could still have some distinct flavors for some kids.
Both chole masala and chana masala originate in North India, and are made with chickpeas and a variety of Indian spices. The difference is just the language – “chana” is a Hindi word, and “chole” is a Punjabi word. Both words mean “chickpeas.” The word “masala” simply means a “spice mixture”, and when used in a recipe name, it means a “spiced gravy” just like in this dish!
Yes absolutely! This vegetarian chickpea curry is packed with nutrition and makes a very healthy meal. Here’s why this recipe is so good for you:
1) Full of heart healthy plant protein: One serving of chickpeas in curry has 14 grams of plant-based protein.
2) Low-Calorie: 1 cup of traditional chana masala can run you upwards of 400 calories. But this chole masala has only about 280 calories per serving thanks to using less oil and making the tomato based curry sauce rich with tons of spices!
3) High Fiber: Chickpeas are high in fiber. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol thus decreasing the risk of heart disease. One serving of this healthy chickpea curry has 13 grams of fiber.
4) High in Vitamins and Minerals: Chickpeas are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. The tomatoes in this dish provide lycopene (a potent antioxidant), Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate and Vitamin K.
Chana masala and tikka masala are both popular dishes in Indian cuisine, but they differ in two main ways:
1) Main Ingredient: A traditional chole chana recipe is made with chickpeas (chana), while tikka masala is typically made with meat – usually chicken.
2) Sauce: Chana masala has a tomato-based sauce with spices such as cumin, coriander, and garam masala. Tikka masala has a creamy sauce with a base of tomato puree, yogurt, and cream, along with spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala.
Essentially, chana curry (masala) is a vegetarian dish made with chickpeas and has a tomato-based sauce, while tikka masala is a non-vegetarian dish made with chicken and has a creamy tomato-based sauce.
Not necessarily, because traditionally chana masala is made with ghee, which is clarified butter. Many restaurants might substitute olive oil or another oil for ghee, but you should ask before ordering it. This chole masala recipe is vegan friendly, as we use olive oil instead of ghee, and use a base of onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, chickpeas, and Indian spices, in a rich tomato sauce.
Yes you can freeze chole masala! This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To store in the fridge: Let the leftover chana masala cool completely, transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To freeze: Let the garbanzo curry recipe cool, transfer to an airtight freezer safe container or ziptop freezer bag, place in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
🍲 More Delicious Indian Recipes!
- Masala Oats
- Samosa Wraps
- Tandoori Cauliflower
- Chickpea Tikka Masala
- Rasmalai Tres Leches Cake
- Kerala Egg Roast
- Instant Pot Dal Makhani
- Pav Bhaji
- Aubergine Curry
- Red Lentil Dal
- Chickpea And Lentil Curry
- Rajma Masala
- Vegan Tikka Masala
- Sweet Potato And Chickpea Curry
Love this Vegetarian Indian recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page!
📋 Recipe Card
🎥 Watch How to Make It
Chole Masala (Punjabi Chole Recipe)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium red onions diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 15 oz can of whole tomatoes with their juices chopped small
- ⅔ cup water
- 45 oz canned chickpeas (3) 15 ounce cans
- ½ tsp salt
- Heat oil in a large pot on high heat.
- Add cumin seeds and as soon as they start popping, add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes.
- Add the coriander, cumin powder, cayenne, turmeric, paprika/smoked paprika, and garam masala. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes + juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan.
- Add the water, chickpeas and salt.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to make sure the Chana Masala doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- In order to get the full flavor of this chana masala be sure to toast the cumin seeds before adding the onions.
- When you hear the seeds begin to pop in the oil that’s when you know it’s time to add the onion, garlic, and ginger.
- Heat the onions on low for 5 minutes or until they caramelize.
- Add the other spices before adding the tomatoes and other ingredients. This will allow the spices to integrate together for that rich full flavor.
- If you don’t have whole tomatoes canned, you can also use the same size can of diced tomatoes.
- For some extra greens, you can add 6oz chopped baby spinach to this recipe. You can add them at the last 10 minutes of cooking, and let them wilt on their own while the chana masala is simmering.
- This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.