Recipe: Chole/Chana Biryani (Indian Rice Dish with Chickpeas)

YUM! This is one of the best rice dishes I have ever had! It is SO GOOD! If you like Indian rice dishes, I strongly recommend it!

The biryani is a rice dish cooked with “dum” method. The rice is partially cooked, while a tasty gravy with spices is made. The rice is put on top of the vegetable gravy, and then it is covered tightly and cooked over low heat. This is somewhat time-consuming, so it is best to eat on weekends.

I have previously shared a Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani recipe. In my opinion, this Chole Biryani is even more delicious! 🙂

Chole or Chana means chickpeas in Hindi. So this biryani uses chickpeas as its main ingredient besides rice.

My recipe is adapted from Veg Recipes of India. I use a can of chickpeas instead of dry chickpeas, which makes the cooking process faster and does not require a pressure cooker. Please see the original recipe for lots of great pictures!

Serves about 5-6, depending on how hungry you are! 🙂

Like my Japanese curry recipe, I will be splitting the ingredients into different sections because the recipe has many steps. The ingredients are bolded so they are easier to find.

1.25 cups white basmati rice

1. Rinse and drain the rice.

2. Then, cover with water and soak while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

1 medium onion (American size)

3-4 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger

2 small roma tomatoes (American size)

2. Thinly slice the onion.

3. Finely mince the garlic and ginger.

4. Dice the tomatoes into small cubes.

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tsp caraway seeds (you may use cumin instead, for a different flavor)

2 green cardamoms, lightly smashed open with rolling pin

1 black cardamom, light smashed open with rolling pin (optional if you do not like it or cannot find it)

1.5-inch-long cinnamon stick

1 Indian bay leaf (tej patta) (optional if you cannot find it)

2 or 3 cloves

2 or 3 single strands of mace (if you cannot find, skip or substitute with about 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg)

5. Heat a large pot. (I use a Dutch oven)

6. Add oil.

7. When hot, add all the spices above. Sauté over medium-high heat for about 15 seconds.

1 pinch salt

8. Add the thinly sliced onion and minced garlic and ginger.

9. Add the salt.

10. Mix well and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion becomes soft. If the heat is too high, turn it to medium.

heaping 1/2 tsp turmeric power

heaping 1/2 tsp red chili power (use Kashmiri red chili power for non-spicy)

heaping 1/2 tsp coriander power

1/2 tsp garam masala power (optional)

11. Add the diced tomatoes. Mix well and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

12. Add the spice powders above. Mix well and sauté 1 to 2 more minutes.

1 can (14 oz) chickpeas

13. Drain the chickpeas and rinse well.

14. Add to the pot and stir well.

15. Sauté 1 to 2 more minutes.

about 1 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

16. Add water and salt, stir well. The water should just cover the chickpeas. (I used 1.5 cups water, and it was a bit much, so I had to reduce the liquid later.)

17. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low.

1.5 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

18. Meanwhile, take out a smaller pot that can fit the rice.

19. Drain the rice well. Add to that pot.

20. Add water and salt to the rice.

21. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high to high. Meanwhile, do the next step.

1 pinch saffron threads

2 tbsp hot water

22. Put the saffron in a small bowl and pour the hot water over it. Set aside.

23. Back to the rice. Once the water is boiling, stir it well, and cover again.

24. Cook about 5 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

25. Turn off the heat and stir the rice well. It should be about 80% cooked, not too hard but not fully cooked yet.

26. Cover the pot and leave it until the rice is ready to assemble.

1 cup thick coconut milk (I use one carton of Aroy-D coconut milk. Shake it very, very well and tear open the carton where it tells you to tear.)

27. Back to the pot containing the chickpeas! Open the lid, and pour in all the coconut milk.

(Note: The coconut milk makes the gravy very creamy and the finished dish very delicious. It does not add a lot of coconut flavor! I was surprised when I did not taste much coconut flavor in the end. So do not be too worried about its flavor.)

28. Mix very well, and turn the heat back to high.

29. Bring back to a boil. Reduce the broth if necessary. It should be a little high than the chickpeas. This might be hard to judge if you are not experienced in dum biryani-making. If you only added 1 cup of water earlier, it should be all right.

30. Turn off the heat when ready.

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (I didn’t have it, so I skipped it.)

1/4 cup finely chopped mint (I used 1 tsp dried mint instead.)

2 tsp finely julienned ginger

2 tbsp fried onions (optional)

31. Over the chickpea gravy, evenly sprinkle half of the cilantro, half of the mint, and half of the ginger. 

32. Evenly spread all of the rice on top of the chickpea gravy.

33. Evenly sprinkle the fried onions on top of the rice.

34. Evenly sprinkle the rest of the cilantro, mint, and ginger on top of the rice.

35. Evenly sprinkle the saffron water on top of the rice, including the saffron threads.

Time to DUM! 🙂

36. Turn the heat back on.

37. Cover the pot tightly with a lid.

38. Turn the heat to low, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

39. Turn off the heat and leave the rice covered for a couple minutes.

Serving the Biryani

40. Open the lid!

41. Cut into the biryani like a cake, so you can remove all the layers at once. Serve on plates.

42. If you have plain yogurt, I recommend serving the biryani with some of it. It is very refreshing and tasty!

Tip! Do NOT eat the whole spices. Be very careful of cloves and cardamoms, because you might accidentally bite into them and it is not a pleasant experience!

Enjoy your biryani! 😀

Plated Biryani:   

Biryani right after Dum Cooking:


Biryani after “Slicing”:  


2 thoughts on “Recipe: Chole/Chana Biryani (Indian Rice Dish with Chickpeas)

    1. Very delicious and time consuming! 🙂
      I’m going to try to use my basmati once a week, hehe. I will be making pulao when I don’t have time for biryani. Pulao is very tasty and good as well 😀

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