Sunday, December 12, 2010

Channa Masala - The universal side dish

Channa masala is a very popular Indian side dish made using garbanzo beans. It goes well with rice, roti, poori, batura, bread etc. It also forms the base of many chaat preparations like samosa chaat and Kachori chaat.

Dried Garbanzo beans are always stocked up in my pantry. I generally soak them overnight and pressure cook with salt and one whole green chilly (which I remove later). It might seem easier to open a can, but there is a subtle difference in flavour and you can alter the way you cook it to achieve desired results.

This summer, we planted bell peppers in our small backyard. I love bell peppers, and when they are home grown, it becomes extra special and yummy. I dice them, saute them and add them to almost anything at the end of cooking process as a garnish. It brightens and freshens up any curry.

Garbanzo beans (dry) - 1 cup or 16 oz can
Onion - 1 large, diced
Tomato - 2 large, diced
Ginger - 1 inch piece, peeled and cut
Garlic - 5-6 cloves
Green chillies - 3 or to taste
Dried red Kashmiri chillies - 3 to 4 (optional)
Channa Masala powder or Garam masala (store bought)  - 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch piece
Cloves - 3 - 4
Bay leaf - 1 large
Green and /or red bell peppers - 1 to 2 (optional), diced
Salt to taste

If using dry garbanzo beans, soak in water overnight. Pressure cook with water and salt until soft.
If using canned beans, drain and rinse with water.
Heat little oil in a large skillet, saute ginger, garlic and onion. Add a little salt to let the onions sweat out. When the onion turns transparent and raw smell goes away, add diced tomatoes. When tomatoes are completely cooked, remove from heat, cool and grind into a smooth paste.
In the same skillet, saute the diced bell peppers for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add 2 tea spoons of oil to the skillet. When hot, add bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves. When they turn brown, add the cooked / canned beans and the ground paste. Add required amount of water so that the gravy just covers the beans. Add Channa masala powder and more salt to taste. Cook covered until it comes to a boil. Add sauteed bell peppers, mix well and serve with any accompaniment.


  1. mm garbanzo beans. you make Indian food look so interesting. I will have to try making something easy one day.

  2. This is one of those non-mush recipes... You can try this. All you need is the Channa Masala powder. You can substitute with Garam masala too... It is so easy, that I made it during our recent vacation to Hawaii. You can read about that here :)