Chana Masala (Dry Version)

Nik Sharma

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Channa Masala
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Channa Masala

Chana Masala (Dry Version)

I use this very simple recipe at home to make channa masala. There are no potatoes or tomatoes in this version. Unlike the more common version where chickpeas sit in a broth, this channa masala is served “dry.” Spices give this dish its character. I use an electric pressure cooker for cooking the chickpeas quickly, but you can do this without; it will take a little longer, so keep an eye on the texture of the chickpea. Canned chickpeas can also be used here, eliminating the cooking step. Plain yogurt is my favorite choice of accompaniment with this dish, and parathas or plain rice.

  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

1 cup/180 g dry chickpeas

1 tsp kosher salt plus more

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp ghee, extra-virgin olive oil, or neutral oil like grapeseed oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

a tiny pinch of asafoetida (hing) 

1 tsp garam masala, homemade or store-bought

1/2 cup diced white onion

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground red chilli powder (I use a mild one like Kashmiri chilli)

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 to 2 tsp amchur powder or more as needed or 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (also see notes above)

2 to 3 Tbsp fresh chopped mint or 1 Tbsp dried mint

Instructions

  1. Clean and rinse the chickpeas to remove any debris. Soak in 2 cups/480 ml tap water overnight.
  2. The next day, the chickpeas will absorb the water and swell. Discard the water. Cook the chickpeas in an electric pressure cooker in 1 quart/960 ml of water with 1 tsp kosher salt and the baking soda for 30 mins at high pressure. Once the chickpeas are cooked, drain the chickpeas over a large fine mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup/120 ml of this liquid.
  3. Once the chickpeas are cooked, prepare the masala or spice mixture. Heat the ghee or oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin and asafoetida and cook for 30 to 45 seconds until the spices start sizzling. Add the garam masala and cook for 30 seconds until the spices release their aroma. Quickly stir in the onions, turmeric, and chilli powder and sauté until the onions are translucent about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute. Fold in the drained chickpeas taking care to prevent them from breaking. Add 1/2 cup/120 ml of the reserved liquid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the liquid evaporates, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the amchur over the chickpeas and fold gently, taste, and add more if needed. Adjust the salt if necessary. Garnish the chickpeas with chopped mint and serve hot with rice or flatbread. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • The chickpeas should be tender and creamy yet hold their shape. I soak the beans overnight and then pressure cook them with salt and baking soda. Both of these ingredients change the pectin inside the seed, which will then make the inside of the chickpea softer and quickens the cooking time.
  • I’m using an electric pressure cooker to speed up cooking time. If you don’t own one, cook them on the stove. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the chickpeas are completely tender. They should be soft and creamy inside, but you don’t want them so soft that they turn to mush. 1 cup of dried chickpeas gives approximately 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked chickpeas; keep this in mind when using canned chickpeas as a substitute. Add canned chickpeas directly to the onions and use the liquid in the can instead of the cooking liquid.
  • Asafoetida/Hing and Kashmiri chilli powder can be obtained at Indian grocery stores.
  • In my opinion, amchur (ground unripe dry mango powder) is what makes this dish. The fruity acidity of these ingredients brings out the flavor of the spices. This, like garam masala, is available at Indian stores. You can use fresh lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime) as a substitute.
  • Note: I add the chilli powder with the onions, rather than earlier, because the water inside the onions will prevent the chilli from burning. It acts as an insurance policy of sorts.

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