Imli Chole | Tamarind Chana Masala | A delicious, tangy chickpea curry that’s rich in flavor and simple enough for a weeknight.
Chole/Chana can be made in so many ways. This version calls for a handful of ingredients including imli/tamarind pulp. The tamarind pulp gives a tangy, tart flavor while adding a deep rich color to the dish. I learned to make this dish from my mother in law who is visiting us for a few weeks. Yesterday was my husbands birthday and since we are observing Chaitra Navratri we decided to make one of his favorite vegetarian meals, Chole Poori.
Chole (chickpeas) are prepared in a variety of ways in Indian cuisine. I’ve grown up having typical Punjabi Chole and while I love those with bature, this version is a wonderful weeknight variety and something that can be easily used in chaat, on aloo tikis or with poori, like we had.
Yesterday I wished my mother in law for my husbands birthday (because all moms should be wished on their children’s birthday) to which she gushingly replied, “Jis din woh pedha hua, woh meri zindagi ka saabse aacha din tha. Waise ki kushi uss din se pehle nahi hui na uss din ke baad.” Meaning: The day he was born was the happiest day for me, I’ve never experienced such joy, not before his birth and not after.” it was something that really stuck with me and made me realize a mother’s sentiments are synonymous, regardless of age or generation.
- 2 cup dried chickpeas/chole; soaked overnight
- 1 cup onion; finely diced
- 1 cup tomato; chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon imli/tamarind paste
- 1 green chili; chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches
- 4 cloves/laung
- 4 cardamom/elaichi pods
- 1 teaspoon chole malala; I use Everest brand
- ¼ teaspoon haldi/turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon lal mirch/red chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garam masalagaram masala
- 3 tablespoon cooking oil of choice
- 2 teaspoon salt; adjust if needed
- Soak the chana/chole overnight in 3-4 cups of water. When ready to use drain water, wash & reserve.
- If using an Instant Pot, add chana with 5 cups of water, close the pressure valve and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure. Naturally release the pressure.
- If using a traditional pressure cooker, add chana with 5 cups of water and pressure for 25-30 minutes (7-8 whistles); until chana is soft.
- In a heavy bottom pan, I use my Dutch oven, warm oil on medium heat. Once hot cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods. As they start to sputter add onions and chopped chilis, sauté until onions become translucent.
- Add in the tomatoes and ginger garlic paste and cook down for 2-3 minutes. Once the oils start separating add in the lal mirch, haldi, chole masala and imli paste.
- Mix well and add in the chole along with the water it was cooked in. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes on medium low heat.
- Uncover, add in garam masalagaram masala, mix and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve hot with roti, naan or poori.