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Punjabi Chole Masala Classic Vegan Chickpea Curry

A Punjabi chole masala is also known as chana masala and it is a deep, and complexly flavoured curry from Northern India, mine is vegan.

This recipe creates a unique spice blend from scratch to create a wonderful spicy & fragrant curry that will blow your mind.

Vegan Punjabi chole masala curry or chana masala served in an iron karai.

Vegan Chana Masala Curry

You all know I am a sucker for Indian flavours! To me they are the most vibrant and magical flavours in food.

This recipe has many names, whether that be chana masala, chole or I’ve even seen channay which sounds like a Californian grape variety!

My chole has Punhjabi or Amritsari roots and it is naturally vegan, just like so many Northern Indian dishes.

It joins other vegan curries like my spinach and mushroom curry, saag aloo, butter bean curry, chickpea and lentil curry, vegetable bhuna and rajma masala in my lineup.

I also have a vegan mushroom biryani, much like that dish, this recipe is a labour of love.

But it is super simple to cook, the magic is all in the detail.

It has a complex and deep flavour that cannot be arrived at with shortcuts. So don’t miss out cooking the chickpeas in the tea, yes you read that right!

It adds that magic something that you can’t quite put your finger on.

If you want a quicker chickpea curry, take a look at my simple carrot and chickpea curry, chana aloo or chickpea and sweet potato curry.

Overhead vegan Punjabi chole masala curry served in an iron karai.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use canned chickpeas?

For this Punjabi chole recipe no, not really. A significant part of the flavour in this dish is derived from the cooking process for the chickpeas.

This is then followed through in the use of this cooking liquid to help form the sauce.

What sort of tea should I use?

You want to use a black tea, if you are from the UK use what ever teabags you have at home. If you have tea leaves then wrap them in a piece of muslin and make your own bag.

Can I use dried curry leaves?

Honestly, dried curry leaves are a bit rubbish. Get some fresh leaves and put them in a zip lock back in your freezer, you should be able to find them at an Indian store.

They will last in the freezer for months in perfect condition.

How spicy is this curry?

My punjabi chole or chana masala recipe is “up there” in the heat stakes. You can increase or reduce that by adding or reducing chilli at various stages.

The simplest way to reduce the heat is to halve the number of green chilli peppers. Also you could skip adding the dried red chilli peppers back into the curry after they have finished cooking with the chickpeas.

Close up vegan Punjabi chole masala curry or chana masala.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally a Punjabi chole or chana dal is served with bhatura. A delicious Indian fried bread that reminds me a little of Hungarian Langos.

Now whilst I am not averse to a bit of frying every now and then, but I’d be lying if I said I fried bhatura every time I made chole.

I usually break out some of my Tandoori naan bread from the freezer or knock up some quick chapati.

It also works rather nicely as a side dish.

My Indian Spiced Roast Chicken Legs served alongside this makes a great meal, it would also be wonderful with this Indian roast lamb!

Punjabi chole masala curry or chana masala served in an iron karai with naan bread.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Large bowl for soaking the chickpeas.
  • 24cm or 10″ saucepan.
  • 28cm or 11″ frying pan or skillet.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
Punjabi chole masala curry or chana masala served in an iron karai.
Yield: 2 Servings

Punjabi Chole Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 50 minutes

When it comes to frugality a Punjabi chole or an Indian chickpea curry is right up there, a cheap meal that packs flavours well above its 'pay grade'!


  • 175g (1 Cup) Dried Chickpeas
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Teabags
  • 2 Dried Red Chillies
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Ginger Thumb Sized Piece
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 150g (1 Cup) Onion
  • 250g (1⅔ Cup) Tomatoes
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Dried Pomegranate Seeds
  • ½ Tsp Ajwain Seeds
  • 3 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 2 Cloves
  • ¼ Tsp Asafoetida
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 12 Curry Leaves
  • ½ Tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ½ Tsp Amchur
  • ½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Extra Salt to Taste


  1. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight.
  2. Place the chickpeas in a pan with 1 litre (4 cups) of water, a teaspoon of salt, add the tea bags, cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
  3. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 50-60 minutes.
  4. Skim off any foam that forms on the water during the initial boil phase.
  5. Cut the onion into a dice as finely as you can.
  6. Mash the garlic cloves.
  7. Grate the ginger.
  8. Cut the tomatoes into a 1cm (½") dice.
  9. Cut the green chillies in half lengthways.
  10. Heat a 28cm or 11" frying pan or skillet over a high heat.
  11. When hot add the cumin, coriander, pomegranate and ajwain seeds, then throw in the cardamom pods and cloves, and toast for 1 minute keeping them moving at all times
  12. Remove the seeds and allow to cool for 3 or 4 minutes, then blitz to a fine powder.
  13. Remove the dried chillies, tea bags, bay leaves and cinnamon stock from the pan with the chickpeas and discard the tea bags, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
  14. Drain the chickpeas reserving around 250ml (1 cup) of the cooking liquid.
  15. Mash 3 or 4 tablespoons of the hot chickpeas into a paste.
  16. Chop the now-cooked dried red chillies as finely as you can (if you want to reduce the heat in the recipe discard these chillies instead).
  17. Heat the pan you toasted the spices in over a medium high heat and when hot add the oil.
  18. Throw in the curry leaves, green chillies and asafoetida and cook for 30 seconds.
  19. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until the edges start to colour up.
  20. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
  21. Add the tomatoes, mashed chickpeas, chopped red chilli, turmeric, amchur, chilli powder and the spice mix we created earlier and 125ml (half a cup) of the chickpea cooking liquid.
  22. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Halfway through this have a taste for salt and add more as necessary.
  23. Add the chickpeas and as much cooking liquid as you need to get the right texture and cook for a final 5-7 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 402Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1492mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 13gSugar: 16gProtein: 13g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Thursday 5th of December 2019

No amchoor or anardana to give it that tart fruity kick? :)

Brian Jones

Friday 6th of December 2019

This recipe was inspired by someone else's recipe so kept it pretty close to the original, mango powder would be a great addition though.


Friday 16th of March 2018

Oh man, that curry looks amazing! I love the flavors of curries, as well and chick peas are among my favorite things on the planet!

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of March 2018

Thanks Beth!


Friday 16th of March 2018

I’ve never made Indian dish before, but seeing your Indian recipes It looks good and delicious and I am challenged to try your two curry recipes. Thanks for sharing!

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of March 2018

Teehee, there are many more than two floating around here :o Enjoy!


Sunday 16th of October 2016

This looks absolutely fabulous! Chole is one of my favorites. You should try with bhatura next time

Brian Jones

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

It should do, it is based on your recipe ;)

Hillary Reeves

Friday 14th of October 2016

I could eaaaat aaaalll of this!! Ugh, so good!!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Thanks Hillary, it really was fab!

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