Chana Masala is one of the most popular Indian dishes available, and there are plenty of recipes out there. This Chana Masala recipe was my mother’s, and she learned it from an aunt who had a reputation for cooking with almost no oil in it, because she was very conscious about her health. Recently, I have been asked to make dishes which contain very little oil, or no oil, and this is one of the first in the line.
I love this Chana Masala recipe, because although its a bit of work finding the ingredients for the masala, its totally worth it, because the masala can be kept for about 3 months in an airtight container if you store it inside the fridge. Plus, making your own masala is thousand times better than buying from a store, and the flavours are superb. This recipe contains almost no oil (2 teaspoons, which translates to about 1/4th teaspoon per serve) and serves about 8-10 people after cooking. It freezes well, and tastes even better the next day. You can easily store this in the fridge for up to a week.
Start by soaking 500 gm. chickpeas for at least 4 hours before cooking it till it is soft. Now, many people cook it with a teabag in the pot, but I don’t because I like the natural colour of the chickpeas. It will take some time in the pressure cooker, so just put it all in there and cook till its soft with a small slice of ginger for a bit of extra flavour. For me, after the full pressure stage is achieved, drop the heat and cook for 15 minutes, simmering. Then, raise the heat, and let the pressure release once (one seetee), and then turn off the heat and let the pressure fall naturally.
Meanwhile, make the masala – in a small pan, put in 2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 2 teaspoon black pepper (whole), 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 2 inches whole cinnamon. Roast this on dry heat for 2-3 minutes, until you can smell the aroma of the spices. Remove, cool, and grind into a fine powder. Add 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, and 1 tablespoon anardana powder. This is your Homemade Chana Masala Powder.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a large pot, and add 1-2 whole red chillies (more if you like heat), 1 bay leaf, 4-5 cloves, and 1 stick of cinnamon. When this splutters slightly, add 4-5 tablespoons onion paste (about 2 medium onions), and cook till the onion is golden. Add 1 tablespoon ginger paste and cook for another minute. Then add 4 tablespoons of the chana masala powder and mix this for 1-2 minutes.
Now, add 5 tablespoons of tomato purée (you can use fresh or from the pack – I prefer fresh and use it), and cook till the tomatoes are no longer raw-looking. Add the boiled chickpeas with the cooking liquid, and stir everything well. Add salt, sugar (if you like it slightly sweet) and a teaspoon of amchur (raw mango powder) if you want. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until everything is amalgamated. Add a teaspoon of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) if you like in the end, stir it in, and cover for a minute. Serve with slices of onions and lime and some fresh coriander, chopped.
I love eating Chana Masala with Rotis, slices of lightly toasted bread, bhatura, parathas, or Kulcha. Or, you can also eat this all by itself if you don’t want to pile on the carbohydrates.