Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Down home Punjabi style Channa (my friend's mom's way)

Around our house we call it channa masala, whereas in DD's friend's house it is simply channe with a 'e' at the end. Mine is orangish yellow a color that generally makes me very happy with a pungent taste. Well that was until I tasted channa at DD's friend's house. No better person than a Punjabi (DD's mom) for an authentic chickpeas recipe I thought. This is her mother's recipe cooked mild for the kid's benefit and to prevent heart burn.

Anyway her channa was a lot different, mild and not orangish at all but black. I tasted it 8 years ago to be precise when DD and her friend were in preschool. I have seen the black looking channa or chole as they were called only in restaurants. I wasted no time in finding out how it got its black color and was astonished when she said that it was tea bags that did the trick. Seemed like there was always a pot of this down home channa simmering in her kitchen as it is a kids favorite. If you are interested in the orange hued Channa Masala, the recipe is here.

It took me all these years to finally get the recipe and give it a try. If you are a pressure cooker person, it is tailor made for it.

For two cups of dry chick peas I used about 1 tbsp of tea. I should have used atleast 2 tbsp possibly more to get the black color that got me attracted to it in the first place. Without any of the usual spices this is very mild but nonetheless tasty. She prefers using tamarind pulp for aamchur powder which was a big surprise to me. My tomatoes were red and I did not use enough tea bags, hence the slightly reddish color.

Down home Punjabi style channa
1. 2 Cups white chick peas soaked overnight
2. 2 tbsp tea leaves + cheese cloth or 4 tea bags
3. 1/2 cup roughly chopped onions
4. 4 green chilies slit
5. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (optional)
6. 1/2 cup tomatoes chopped
7. 1 tbsp grated ginger
8. seasoning: cumin seeds
9. Salt to taste + 1 tsp of oil
10. chopped mint leaves or coriander leaves(optional)
11. 1/4 cup Tamarind pulp from a small piece of tamarind (optional, if the tomatoes are sour leave this out)

1. In a pressure cooker add the soaked and washed chick peas with the tea leaves tied securely in a cheese cloth with the required amount of water (about twice the amount of chickpeas), onions, slit green chilies and ginger.
2. Pressure cook for 3 whistles till they are completed cooked and falling apart stage (if you like it whole cook for lesser time)
3. In a pan heat a tsp of oil and add the cumin seeds followed by the chopped tomatoes and saute it for 3-4 minutes till soft.
4. Place the cooker back on the burner, make sure the tea bags are removed add the sauteed tomatoes, salt, tamarind pulp (or just 1/2 cup of water) and let it boil for another 6-8 minutes.

Serve with chapatis or rice


  1. Very interesting and simple with no garam or channa masala. Must try recipe. Thanks Indo.

  2. Hmmm, Tea. That's trick I would have never ever guessed it. Thanks for the idea. the channe look delicious.


  3. Somehow my chana never comes out quite perfect. I usually avoid chana masala for this reason. I try everything else with chana.. but never this curry. Maybe I will give this one a try. Thanks, Indo!

  4. Ha! The timing of your post on Cholle :)

    The imli pulp is new to me - doesn't it make it sour since there are tomatoes also?? Looks good though!

  5. Chann is something we all love at home and i am alwyas on a look out for new recipes.

  6. Such a droolworthy channa masala..looks yumm!

  7. Miri, I know. I had started writing this long before the episode. I did give it some thought but went ahead and published it anyway.

    The tomatoes we get here in the US are really sweet so a bit of tamarind is called for. I have the naatu variety tomatoes which are really sour. You would not need tamarind then.

  8. Here's another version, and another completely different shade of brown! Lesser work too since it does requires only tomatoes to be sauteed!
    I am saying nothing about your timing.

  9. Tea Indo? Never thought abt it..Imli too, always added tomatoes and stopped there...

  10. Channa masala looks delicious, thanks for sharing

  11. I always heard about the tea but never used it :) This looks delish


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