Chana Masala & A Collaboration

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This post is special in two ways – first I had never made chana masala before and was super excited to make it for the blog and second I collaborated with the very talented food & lifestyle photographer Darina Kopcok to shoot this post as well as two other recipes. I made the recipes and styled the food and Darina shot them – the result were these beautiful images. We did three recipes together – chana masala, triple chocolate cake and pina colada popsicles with raspberry swirls. However, in this post I am only sharing the recipe for chana masala. It was an awesome experience working with her and I really enjoyed food styling!

About the Recipe

So there are a few versions of chana masala in Indian cuisine –  first version is a more home cooked style of making it and you eat it on a Sunday afternoon with rice and yogurt (comfort food), second is when you make it dark and thick (this recipe) and eat it with a deep fried bread called bhatura and then there is a dry version which has very less sauce and is mostly made with spices and oil (aka pindi chana). My personal favorite is the home cooked version because its light on the spices and I love the combination with rice. In reality though, the recipe I am sharing today is probably the most famous within the country and outside. The flavor is a medley of spicy, tangy, sour and all the good stuff that makes your mouth water. You will need a few spices to make this recipe – just like any other Indian recipe but you will also need a pressure cooker to make this to speed up the process. If you are into cooking your beans a legumes from scratch then a pressure cooker is a great investment. That said, it can be made with canned chickpeas but there will be a difference in flavor for sure. The recipe below calls for a pressure cooker. If you dont pair this chana masala with the deep fried bread – its a pretty healthy recipe that full of protein and flavor. You can make this vegan by swapping the ghee with any neutral oil. Its definitely in the list of top 10 comfort food and when paired with bhatura – it turns into the most popular street food from India!

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Serving 3 to 4 people

Ingredients

1st Part – boil the chickpeas

1 cup dried chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, soaked in water (enough to cover them completely & a little more) overnight

2 cups water

2 cloves

1/4 piece of lemon

1/2 tsp baking soda (optional – but helps with making the chickpeas soft)

1 tea bag (black tea)

a small piece of cinnamon stick or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

salt

  1. Discard the water of the soaked chickpeas and place them in a pressure cooker.
  2. In the pressure cooker add water and all the other ingredients. Give it a quick stir and close the lid.
  3. Place on medium heat and cook for 4 to 5 whistles. Turn the heat off and let the steam release on its own. Once there is no steam in the cooker, open the lid and check if the chickpeas are soft. They should be tender/soft but not mushy. Fish out the teabag, lemon, cinnamon stick and cloves and discard. The chickpeas are ready for tempering.

2nd part – to prepare the chickpeas with the Masala

3/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato puree dissolved in 1/4 cup water

1 tbsp ghee

1 small piece ginger, grated

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp kitchen king masala or chana masala

1/2 to 1 cup water (if needed)

Sliced onions, chopped green chili and chopped cilantro – for serving

  1. In a large pot heat ghee on medium low heat.
  2. Add onions and stir to coat well with the ghee. Cook onions till they turn translucent.
  3. Add ginger and cook for a couple of more minutes.
  4. Add all the spices and stir to cook for a minute or till the spices get fragrant.
  5. Add the tomato puree dissolved in water and stir. Cook for a few minutes or till you see some ghee collecting on the sides – which basically means that the masala is cooked through and is now releasing the fat.
  6. Add the boiled chickpeas and stir gently to mix well. If it looks too thick, add some more water – otherwise cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes stirring (gently) occasionally.
  7. Taste for seasoning & adjust accordingly. You can also add some lemon juice if you like it a little sour.
  8. Serve hot with thinly sliced onions, chopped green chili, chopped cilantro and a lemon wedge. Enjoy it with steamed rice, naan or bhatura.