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Chai Soaked Chana Masala Rice Pot

Chai Soaked Chana Masala Rice Pot

Closely adapted from Nisha Katona. I have had bad luck in the past with cooking rice with wet ingredients like vegetables so I followed this recipe pretty closely with the exception of using a black tea chai in place of plain black tea. 

Course Entree
Cuisine Indian


  • 1 heaping T loose leaf chai (made with black tea)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1-2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-large onions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1-2 small hot green chile peppers, minced, optional (I left out)
  • 1 t packed brown sugar
  • 1 scant t ground turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t paprika or cayenne, to heat preference
  • 1 1/2 t garam masala, divided
  • 1/2 scant cup (100 g, 3.5 oz) basmati rice
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful frozen chopped kale (or spinach) (you can use fresh and add it earlier in cooking process)
  • 1 handful chopped cilantro
  • Greek yogurt for garnish
  • a few grinds of fresh black pepper to finish
  • lime wedges for garnish


  1. Pour the boiling water over the chai leaves. Let the tea steep while you work.

  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy pan. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and let cook, stirring as needed, for about 10 minutes. I like to keep a cup of water by the cooktop so I can splash some in if the onions start to stick or scorch.

  3. After 10 minutes, when the onions have started to caramelize, add the garlic and ginger. stir and let it continue to caramelize for another 5 minutes. 

  4. When the onions have browned, lower the heat to medium and add the chile peppers (if using), brown sugar, turmeric, cumin, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala and the cayenne/paprika. Stir and let spices roast for 1 minute.

  5. Add the (dry, uncooked) rice and stir into the onions for 2 minutes until it is completely incorporated.

  6. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.

  7. Add the chickpeas. Strain the tea and add the tea. Season with another pinch of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. Let the rice mixture simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until the rice is fully tender.

  8. Stir in the frozen kale or spinach and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Taste for more salt and pepper. 

  9. Serve garnished with cilantro, lime wedges and dollops of Greek yogurt.