Chole (or chana) masala is a popular vegetarian dish throughout Northern India. In this easy recipe, chickpeas and tomatoes are simmered with a mixture of fried garlic, ginger, onion, and serrano chiles plus traditional Indian spices like cumin, garam masala, coriander, and turmeric. Top this spicy, fragrant dish with cooling yogurt and a drizzle of sweet-tart pomegranate molasses, then spoon it over steamed rice or scoop it up with naan.
What to buy: Pomegranate molasses is a sour, syrupy liquid that adds both sweet and tart flavors to this recipe. It can be found in Middle Eastern markets and in the Asian section of grocery stores.
Garam masala can be found in the spice aisle of most grocery stores, or you can make your own.
Game plan: We liked our chole masala on the spicy side, but if you want to dial the heat back a bit, omit one of the serrano chiles.
You’ll need to make some steamed white rice before you begin.
For the chole masala:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 4 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 2-inch piece)
- 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and finely chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup water
For serving (optional):
- Steamed white rice
- Pomegranate molasses
- Plain yogurt
- Naan or chapatis
For the chole masala:
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles and season with kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the tomatoes and reserve the juices. Coarsely chop the tomatoes into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
- When the onions have softened, add the garam masala, coriander, measured salt, and turmeric to the frying pan and stir to coat the onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, their reserved juices, the chickpeas, and the water. Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.
- Spoon the chole masala over steamed rice, drizzle it with pomegranate molasses, and top it with plain yogurt, if desired. Serve with naan or chapatis.