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Chickpea Curry - Channa Masala

Chickpea Curry - Channa Masala

This spicy and tangy Punjabi recipe from Northern India where my father comes from uses brewed tea to darken the gravy. If you’re not keen on doing that, just use water.

bar Chickpea Curry - Channa Masala

Picture by Werner Van Peppen

Serves 4

1 tea bag
6 tbsp vegetable oil2 bay leaves
5-6cm/2-2 ½ in piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
2 onions, finely chopped
5cm/2in piece root ginger, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp mango powder or amchoor
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp ground pomegranate seeds or anardana
¼ tsp Garam masala
2 cans (400g/14oz each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed


Bring 500ml/17fl oz/2 cups water to the boil. Put the tea bag in a heatproof bowl, pour over the boiling water and set aside to brew.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bay leaves and the cassia bark or cinnamon and fry, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds, or until they splutter. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Add the onions and fry, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes until they are golden brown.

Put the ginger and garlic in a blender and blend together until a coarse paste forms. Add to the pan with the cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, mango powder, chilli powder, ground pomegranate seeds and garam masala and continue stirring for 2 minutes.

Tip in the chickpeas and continue stirring for a further 5 minutes, mashing some of the chickpeas against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Discard the teabag and stir the tea into the pan. Leave the mixture to simmer for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes quite thick. Serve with chapatis.


This dish is often served with Bhature which is a deep fried leavened bread made with plain flour. They are quite indulgent so are best eaten occasionally. I like my Chickpea Curry with toasted wholemeal pitta breads.

(c) 2012

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