Chana Punjabi

  • Servings : 4
  • Prep Time : 30m
  • Cook Time : 1:15 h
  • Ready In : 1:45 h

Absolutely the best chana masala I’ve ever had: Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez‘s Chana Punjabi. [My personal notes on this are in square brackets, but I guarantee that not following them will also result in awesomeness.]

The flavors in this are very clean and bright, and this has long since replaced my family’s recipe for chana masala. (I retain our recipe for chole, though. Similar dish, but my family’s version is a tangy sweet and sour that’s hard to let go of.) – Lyta


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 small Thai bird chili, chopped [Note: I use two serrano peppers and do not seed them]
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • Cooked rice for serving (optional).


Step 1

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat. [Note: I prefer to add the serrano peppers at the same time as the tomatoes, so as to not dull the heat from the peppers.]

Step 2

Purée mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan and place over medium heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala, turmeric and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. [Note: I prefer to add the lemon/lime juice to this right before serving. It's a family thing. We like the bright citrus flavor to be front and center.]

Step 3

Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir pan about every 10 minutes, adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired. [Note: In the later stages of simmering, take a wooden spoon and crush a few of the chickpeas to improve the texture of the sauce.]

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