Easy Chana Masala

Chana MasalaChana Masala. Those two words set my mouth watering before I can say them out loud.

I bought this huge can of chickpeas from the warehouse store the other day– bigger than two people can possibly use up in a week’s time, but a six-pound can for under $3 just looked too good to pass up to someone who thinks she could eat chickpeas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert. Well, maybe.

So I got home, promptly opened the can, and did the easiest thing I know to do with chickpeas– made hummus. I still had a ton of chickpeas left over so they went into a box and in the refrigerator (this is common sense but don’t store your leftover canned goods in the can) and there they waited for a couple of days until I started to squirm at the thought that those idle chickpeas might be planning to go rogue on me. And although I am not the least wasteful person you’ll ever know (I am embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true), the idea of wasting all those delicious chickpeas just didn’t sit well with me.

Chana MasalaSo into the kitchen I went and cooked up some chickpea burgers that I shared with you the other day. I still had a truckload of chickpeas left over. And then, as I wondered what to cook for our friends Willis and Naomi who were coming home for dinner this past weekend, the light bulb went off. Chana Masala, of course.

Chana Masala  is a surefire crowd pleaser — no one who loves Indian food does not love this tangy, spicy, tomatoey dish. It is also a supremely healthy dish, packed with protein and fiber and low in fat. And for the time-starved cook Chana Masala can be a blessing, especially if you have the right ingredients on hand.

I had shared a chana-masala-from-scratch recipe with you on this blog long ago, and that post includes a recipe for Bhatura, a delicious, puffy fried bread often served with Chana Masala. This recipe is almost as good for half the trouble and time. The only thing you need to chop up is onions and coriander, if you are using it as a garnish. You do need ginger and garlic paste, but here’s a time-saving tip– if you cook Indian food often, take some time on a weekend or a slow night to make some ginger-garlic paste and store it in the refrigerator.Here’s a simple recipe for that:

Ginger-Garlic Paste: Take 4 heads of garlic and a 4-inch piece (or pieces adding up to 4 inches) of ginger. CHop roughly, place in a blender and whiz, adding just enough water to keep the blades moving. You should have a thick paste at the end of it. Scrape it all into a mason jar and store it in the refrigerator where it can sit for weeks, saving you time every day.

Now on to the main recipe, for my quick and easy Chana Masala. It’s a keeper. Our friend, Willis, a carnivore for sure, eyed it, proclaimed it “Bill Clinton food,” then proceeded to devour it anyway.


Chana Masala

4.5 from 2 reviews
Chana Masala
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (if you decide to take the long way and cook with dry garbanzo beans, soak them overnight and cook with enough water to cover until they are really tender. It should take about an hour or more. You want the cooked chickpeas to be mashable)
  • 3-4 cups vegetable stock (preferable) or water
  • 1½ cups canned, pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you want less heat)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chana masala powder (You can find my recipe on the DIY spice blends page and you can make a batch and keep it for future use, but even easier, you can also buy this at the Indian store.Use garam masala if that is all you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp aamchoor (mango powder, also at the Indian store)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the onions.
  2. Add some salt and saute the onions over medium heat until they start to get brown spots. Add ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds.
  3. Add the tomato puree and the powdered spices, including the turmeric, cayenne, paprika, chana masala powder and aamchoor. Let the mixture cook until the tomato puree is a few shades darker and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Scrape so it doesn't burn. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 2-3 cups of the vegetable stock or water and chickpeas and let the curry come to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt and sugar. If the mixture is too dry, add more stock or water
  5. Garnish with the coriander and serve hot with rotis, bhatura or rice. I love it with some simple pilaf rice
Nutrition Information
Calories: 135 Fat: 2.3 grams Sugar: 6.6 grams Fiber: 6.5 grams Protein: 6 grams

 Chana Masala

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  1. Asha says

    I love coming to your blog. My son is vegan (has food allergies) and I get lots of good ideas from your recipes. I love the cute serve ware used in this recipe. Would love to know the name and from where you got it. TIA, Asha.

    • says

      Hi Asha, I am so happy the blog has been useful for you and your son. Thanks for your lovely message. I got this ramekin long ago so my memory’s a bit fuzzy, but I think it came from Bed Bath and Beyond.

  2. Joe Rickerson says

    I’m a great fan of hummus and chana masala.(and a Holy Cow groupy) So last week I took an immersion blender and made chana masala hummus. Definitely Clinton food.

  3. Gita Jaishankar says

    This channa masala is definitely a keeper like you mentioned. I love these kinds of recipes, which are delicious and easy to prepare as well, bookmarked :) Looks so good and comforting!

  4. says

    I so need to make this! I just created a gluten-free naan recipe on my blog, but have yet to perfect an indian dish to go along with it. I love the simplicity of this dish and think it would be the perfect place for me to start exploring. Thanks for sharing!

  5. jessica says

    Hi Vaishali, I love your chick pea recipes today. Whenever I visit your site I can stay on for ages, it’s hard to decide which dish to choose! I’ve voted for your website on the kitchn site. Thanks for sharing all your delicious recipes. x x

    • says

      Dear Jessica, thanks for your lovely message, and motivating words– I really appreciate it! And thanks for the vote too. I am so happy you like the blog. :)

  6. Leah says

    Channa Masala hummus is pure genius. I’m waiting until I get to New Delhi to try out some of these recipes, and have pinned this to my board while I wait to get there in August! Just a note to say that chickpeas freeze beautifully if you run into the excess-chickpea problem in the future! I freeze in little baggies, 1 cup at a time. Thanks for so many great recipes!

  7. Evan says

    Hey Vaishali…don’t see in the recipe when to add the ginger/garlic paste…..not that it probably matters too much!

  8. says

    This recipe sounds great! I can’t wait to try it. I love that you have the recipe to make the chana Masala spice yourself. I just discovered your blog and so far I am impressed. I’ll be sure to check with you when I need a recipe. :-)

  9. Neil says

    Just made it – but changed a few things: Didn’t have pureed tomatoes, so used tomato paste instead. Also, used garam masala instead of chana masala powder (since it’s what I had). And I used hot paprika.

    Overall, came out well, but I think the heat from the paprika is overpowering the other spices a bit too much: next time I will just use regular paprika.

    thanks for such a great blog, and all these great recipes ! I love Indian food, but after having a heart attack this past year (at the age of 51), I am being very careful about what I eat: lots more vegetables, legumes, and fruits, and cutting back on fat. So, it’s great finding websites like this with so many healthy recipes. I really appreciate the time you must put in to keep up a blog like this :)

    • says

      Hi Neil, glad you tried it, and thanks for your kind words. :) You could definitely sub the smoked paprika with plain or even use cayenne. Sorry to hear about the heart attack, but it sounds like you’re taking all the right steps to a healthy future–congrats!

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