Chickpeas- “Rawalpindi Channa”


One of my close friends was over for dinner last night with her fiancé. I wanted to cook something special yet homely and welcoming. Chickpeas is a high protein, delicious vegetarian dish that rounds up any menu well. I cooked some chicken makhanwala, matar paneer (recipe to be posted soon), boondi raita, and chickpeas. Served it hot with roomali roti and white basmati rice.

The preparation for the dish begins with soaking the dried beans overnight in water. Then, I cook it in the pressure cooker using a few whole spices like black cardamom, bay leaf , cloves, cinnamon stick, tea bags and some finely chopped fresh ginger. The tea bags give the chickpeas a rich brown color, which are to be discarded after the chickpeas are cooked. The gravy is made with caramelized onions and a few spice powders like garam masala powder, coriander powder and chopped garlic.The gravy is  thickened by smashing 1/4 cup of the cooked chickpeas into this mixture and by adding the remaining whole chickpeas. Lastly, tamarind paste is added for some tanginess. The end result is a rich colored , thick gravy that is delicious and very satisfying. Serve hot with “puris”, roomali roti,  vegetable pilaf or “naan”.


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water
  • 2 tea bags
  • 1 black cardamom- “badi elaichi”
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 medium sized onion- chopped (approximately 1 cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 4- 5 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • salt to taste


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tomato cut into wedges
  • 1 or 2 whole green chillies (I use Thai hot)


  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro


Soak the beans overnight in water, drain the water the next day and wash well and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add cloves, bay leaf, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, and tea bags. Add 2 1/2 cups of water or enough to cover the beans in the cooker. Add salt for taste. Cook on medium heat until it gives 2 whistles ( approximately 20 minutes).IMG_4408

IMG_4419Heat oil in a vessel. Add onions and fry them till it turns dark brown. This will take up to 20- 25 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, you do not want them to burn.

While the onions are browning, mash 1/4 cup of the cooked chickpeas in a cup and set aside.IMG_4427

After it’s browned, take the onions out on a plate. In the same oil (hot) and add whole cumin seeds, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and lastly the garlic. Fry this till it turns brown, about 2 minutes. You don’t want to burn the garlic.

Add the mashed chickpeas to the browned masalas and fry for another couple of minutes on low heat. The color should be a dark brown.IMG_4431

IMG_4436Add the rest of the chickpeas to it and mix well. Throw in 3/4 cup of hot water to it and simmer for 15- 20 minutes, covered.

Then, add tamarind paste and check for seasonings (salt).

Transfer to a serving dish.IMG_4442

Just before serving: Give a tadka by heating oil in a vessel. Add the tomato wedges and green chillies to it and fry for a minute. Throw this hot oil mixture on top of the chickpeas before serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot. Enjoy!DSC_6220


This gravy is meant to be thick but if you like it thinner, just add more hot water to it. Also, as it sits the chickpeas tend to absorb water so when re- heating the dish, add some hot water to it and adjust for salt accordingly.

Every brand of tamarind paste concentrate varies, add a little for sourness and check for the correct tanginess. I use Dabur imli tamarind paste. 







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