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Chana Pulao (Chickpea Pilaf)

This vegetarian, rice dish is full of aromatic spices and packed with flavor. It’s a comforting dish laced with caramelized onions to give a beautiful rounded sweetness to compliment the warm spices. Definitely a dish that reminds me of childhood and my moms Punjabi best friends. A Mughal classic that my rice loving toddler approves. In fact, if he's fussy and hasn't been eating well, or if we've been on a trip for too long, this is indeed a go to that I know will satisfy him and a dish he thoroughly enjoys!

So here’s my take on the classic!

Ingredients: 1.5 cups Basmati Rice 1.5 cups Boiled Chickpeas (or 1 can) 2 tbsp Ghee or Fat of Choice 1 large Onion Thinly Sliced 1 tbsp Garlic/Ginger Paste 1 tsp Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp Turmeric (optional) 1/8 tsp Red Chili Powder (or to taste) Salt (to taste) 3 cups of Bone Broth (or water/stock)


  • Rinse, soak and set aside your rice.

  • Slice an onion finely and sauté in ghee on medium heat until it caramelizes, softens and turns to a light golden hue.

  • Now turn up the heat, add your spices and garlic/ginger paste, and give it a mix.

  • Add your boiled and drained chickpeas and continue to mix.

  • Now drain your rice and add it to the pot so all the spices distribute evenly.

  • Pour in your choice of cooking liquid and bring it to a boil.

  • Once at a rapid boil, reduce heat to low, give it a stir and cover.

  • Let the rice steam for 10 to 15 minutes until all the liquid evaporates and rice cooks through.

  • Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and garnish with cilantro and green chilies (optional).

  • Enjoy plain, with a mint yogurt sauce or with a side of chicken.


  • If you’re using canned beans: boil the chickpeas in its liquid with a pinch of baking soda for 5 mins at a rapid boil. Then strain, rinse and set aside. This ensures soft and tender beans.

  • Bulk caramelize your onions and freeze once cooled in ice cube trays. Pop one in whenever you make rice (plain or pilaf style) for flavor packed rice.

  • My go-to ratio for rice is 1:2. So for every cup of rice I double the liquid to two cups.

  • My bean ratio is 1:1. For every one cup of rice I add 1 cup of beans.

  • Salt can be tricky. Depending on what kind of salt you use, since some are strong and some aren’t. I typically do 3/4 to 1 tsp salt to every 1 cup. If you’re using stock or bone broth for your cooking liquid, be sure to check the salt and adjust accordingly.

I hope you give this Chickpea Pilaf a try and love it as much as my boys and I do. Comfort home cooking that takes you back to childhood always! If you give this Chana Pulao or any recipe of mine a try, be sure to tag me @blendofspice. I'd love to see how you enjoyed my dish!

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