Spicy Punjabi Chole (Chickpeas)

Punjabi chickpeas (chole) ready to serve
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min

Chickpea curries are made across India, and like most Indian dishes, the flavour profiles vary between regions; within those regions every family has their own recipe, and method of preparing the dish. One of the best things about Indian food is that there is so much room to play with flavours and really make each dish your own. This curry is called chole, pronounced cho-lay, in Punjabi. Its dark colour and depth of spices sets it out from other chana masalas – all equally as delicious! Punjabi chole are spicy, smoky, and bursting with flavour. This recipe is reminiscent of one I grew up eating. If you’re sensitive to spices, or heat, use half the amount of ground masala and save the other half for next time! This recipe is best enjoyed with puri or bhatura, but you can also serve with rice in a pinch.

Related: Whole Roasted Tandoori Chicken with Tender Potatoes and Spicy Onions




cup dry chickpeas, soaked in water and ½ tsp baking soda overnight
tsp baking soda
orange pekoe tea bag

Masala (Spice Mixture)

bay leaf
black cardamom pod
green cardamom pods
inch cinnamon stick
tsp fennel seeds
tsp coriander seeds
tsp cumin seeds
tsp carom seeds

Onion masala

medium onion
medium cloves garlic
inch piece ginger, peeled
medium tomato
green chilis
Tbsp neutral oil, or ghee
tsp ground turmeric
tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
tsp ground black pepper
tsp anardana powder (dried pomegranate seed) or amchoor powder (dried mango)
Salt, to taste


Lemon juice, and slices
Thinly sliced red onions, optional


Ingredients for Punjabi chole (chickpeas)
Step 1

Rinse the soaked chickpeas well, place in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker with baking soda, the tea bag and enough water to cover the chickpeas by 3 inches. Manually set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes are complete, manually release the pressure, then let sit for a couple minutes before opening. Strain the chickpeas and reserve two of cups of the cooking liquid. If the tea bag bursts, simply wash the chickpeas and strain the liquid so no tea leaves remain.

Chickpeas, baking soda and tea bag in an Instant pot
Step 2

Make the masala (spice mixture): Dry roast all of the whole spices in a small skillet over medium low heat.

Dry spices for masala in a skillet
Step 3

Once the spices are aromatic and the colours have deepened, remove from the skillet and blend to a powder in a coffee grinder. Set aside.

Dry spices for masala in a coffee grinder
Step 4

For the onion masala, place the onions, garlic and ginger in a mini food processor, pulse until very finely chopped. Set aside.

Onions and garlic in a good processor, finely chopped
Step 5

Place the tomatoes and green chilis in the food processor, pulse until pureed.

Step 6

In a large skillet or pot on medium high heat, add the oil or ghee. Add the onion mixture, cook on medium heat until the onions are a light golden brown.

Onions frying in ghee in a skillet
Step 7

Add the tomato mixture, half of the spice mixture, the turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, and anardana or amchoor powder to the onions. Cook until the oil begins to separate, stirring often.

Punjabi chole ingredients in a saute pan
Step 8

Add the chickpeas and 1 ½ cups cooking liquid to the masala. Set the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Punjabi chole ingredients in a saute pan
Step 9

Mix the chole, adding water if it’s too thick. Using a potato masher, gently mash some of the chole. This helps thicken the curry slightly. About ¼ of the chickpeas should be broken/mashed. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.

Punjabi chole being mashed in a saute pan with a potato masher
Step 10

Plate and garnish with fresh lemon juice, thinly sliced red onions and more cilantro.

Punjabi chole in a saute pan, ready to serve

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