Indian Paneer Pindi Chana (Chole) Masala
Pindi Chana(or chole) is a famous masala chickpea recipe, named after town where it originated i.e. Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan, used to be part of India before India-Pakistan partition. In north India, Pindi Chana is still a famous Chana Masala main course dish. Easy to cook, Pindi Chana makes excellent main course, served traditionally with naan or roti.
I love Chana Masala, specially with Indian Puffed Flat Bread (known as Poories). Until I made Pindi Chana at home, I always made traditional punjabi-style chana masala. I remember eating Pindi Chana a lot with poories whenever we visited any tourist place deep north. People sell Pindi Chana on food carts with lot of spicy and fresh sides to choose from. Chana sellers always had lots of complimenting and filling ingredients in normal chickpea chana masala like small cubed Indian paneer, boiled and diced potatoes, green peas and even re-hydrated Indian soy nuggets (nutrela). When you bite into spicy pindi chana masala, a little bit of mild paneer or potato bite will just round-off the spiciness of dish.
When I was making Pindi Chana today, I decided to add some paneer to make it as authentic as possible. I have to say that Paneer was a nice touch indeed. In-fact, any mild yet sturdy and earthy vegetable will go well with spicy and tangy pindi chana. As spicy it looks, it is a very flavorful dish and very easy to make.
Pindi chana is usually flavored with tamarind (for tangy bite) and black tea (for color). If not making roti or naan, serve it with steamed rice.
You can also serve Pindi Chana as spicy Indian-style dip with crispy corn chips on the side (like I do with any leftover pindi chanas). Enjoy!!
Indian Paneer Pindi Chana (Chole) Masala
- 2 Cup Chickpeas (dry chickpeas soaked in water overnight)
- 2 tbsp Tamarind (tamarind paste)
- 1 tsp Black Tea (Or 1 tea bag steeped in 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes)
- 1/4 lbs Paneer (cubed or use firm tofu cubed to bite size pieces.)
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tbsp Cumin Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
- 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste (Or use 1/2 inch ginger and 3 garlic cloves and very fine chop)
- 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Powder
- 4 tbsp Cilantro (or coriander leaves fine chopped)
- 1/2 Serrano pepper (or any hot small pepper, thin sliced)
- 1/2 tsp Chaat Masala (Optional but recommended)
- Salt and Black Pepper (as per taste)
- 1. Boil or pressure cook pre-soaked chickpeas with 4 cups of water till chickpeas are tender and can be easily mashed with fingers (I often call it pinch-tender). Once cooked, separate the cooking liquid from chickpeas and reserve for later use. Take 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas and 2 tbsp cooking liquid and pulse in food processor to make coarse paste (use 1-2 tbsp more cooking liquid if paste is too thick to handle) Additional Notes: If in hurry, you can also use a good quality canned chickpeas and vegetable stock/water instead of chickpea cooking liquid.
- 2. Heat oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic, minced half hot green pepper, 1 tbsp fine chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Fry at low heat for 2-3 minutes until oil is fragrant(don't let garlic burn).
- 3. Add all of the whole chickpeas and chickpea paste into the pan. Also, add all the dry spices - red pepper powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, chaat masala, garam masala, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and coat chickpeas in spices and fry for 2 minutes.
- 4. Now add tamarind paste, all water from steeping tea bag and 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid into the pan. Mix well, bring to boil and then simmer until gravy thickens per your liking. I like'em almost dry, so it takes me about 7-10 minutes.
- 5. Dark colored, spicy, tangy and so flavorful pindi chanas are ready. Now add cubed paneer (if using), mix gently with chickpeas and continue cooking for 1 more minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve. Enjoy!!
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