This recipe for Chana Masala features tender chickpeas simmered in a fragrant tomato sauce cooked with an aromatic blend of spices.
What is chana masala?
Chana masala (also known as chole) is a savory chickpea curry from Northern India.
Typically, chickpeas are cooked in a mixture of spices along with onions and tomato.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe for Chana Masala is:
Easy to make: using canned chickpeas is convenient and saves time, but you can definitely use dried chickpeas and cook them for this dish.
Delicious: full of flavor from the combination of fragrant, toasted spices.
Nourishing: this chickpea curry is vegetarian and naturally gluten-free.
Ingredients you'll need
Spices (garam masala)
- cinnamon stick: you can use ground cinnamon if you don't have cinnamon stick
- cloves: are small, thin and black; used commonly in pumpkin spice
- green cardamon pods
- star-anise: shaped like a star, brown in color and has a licorice flavor
- curry leaves: if you can't find fresh curry leaves, omit
- fenugreek leaves: usually sold dried
- bay leaves: usually available dried, with a flavor similar to oregano and thyme
- nutmeg: is a small, oval seed with a warm flavor, used in pumpkin spice
- chili powder: different brands will have different levels of heat; choose one that you like; decrease the amount if you don't like it too spicy
- black mustard seed: quite pungent and strong in flavor compared to their yellow counterpart
- coriander powder: comes from the seeds of the cilantro plant; are small beige spheres in appearance
- cumin powder: comes from cumin seeds, which are small brown-colored and oval in appearance; has a smoky nutty, warm flavor
- turmeric powder: yellow/orange in color; slightly bitter
You can use the powder form of these spices if you don't have the whole spice. However, it's more fragrant to toast and grind your own spices.
Aromatics & chickpeas
- white onion: sliced
- fresh ginger: sliced
- garlic cloves: from 1 garlic bulb
- ghee: which is clarified butter; you can also use butter or vegetable oil
- water: for thinning out the sauce
- tomato sauce: or diced tomato
- tamarind paste: for a touch of acidity; you can also use amchoor powder (mango powder)
- sea salt: for savory flavor
- granulated sugar: to balance out the flavor and acidity
- chickpeas: canned; or you can use dried chickpeas and cook them until tender
You can find most of these ingredients at your local supermarket. For the spices, you can find them in major supermarkets or Indian grocery stores.
How to make it
Gather spices into a bowl. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, add in ghee and sauté the white onion and ginger, until onion softens.
Add in the garlic and all the spices.
Fry until the spices are aromatic and fragrant.
Transfer the spice mixture along with the onions, ginger and garlic into a high-powered blender.
Add in water, tomato sauce, tamarind paste, salt, and sugar.
Blend on high speed until smooth.
Transfer sauce to a large pot and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes to release the spices' aroma.
Add the canned chickpeas into the sauce and continue to simmer for another additional 20 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
Remove from heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Serve warm with steamed basmati rice and fluffy naan.
How to serve
Serve chana masala with cooked basmati rice and fluffy naan (omit naan if gluten-free).
How to store
Store leftover chickpea curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Note: leftover chickpea curry will have more flavor and taste even better after sitting in the sauce for a period of time.
How to reheat
Place chana masala in a large pot and bring to a simmer, until the chickpeas and sauce are heated through.
You can also reheat the chickpeas in the microwave (be sure to use a microwave-safe bowl and cover with a lid), until heated through.
Expert tips & substitutions
Make it vegan by omitting ghee, and use vegetable oil to sauté the aromatics.
You can adjust the consistency of the chickpea curry -- if you prefer a drier, thicker curry, cook and evaporate the mixture longer; conversely, if you prefer a more saucier curry, add a little more water.
Instead of chickpeas, you can use this same sauce on tofu.
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Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
Spices (garam masala):
- 2" cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 4 cloves
- 4 green cardamon pods
- 2 star anise
- 2 tablespoon curry leaves
- 2 tablespoon fenugreek leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Aromatics & chickpeas:
- 2 tablespoon ghee or butter, vegetable oil
- 2 large white onion sliced
- 2 x 1” piece ginger sliced
- 1 whole garlic bulb peeled
- 2½ C (600ml) water
- 1 can (398ml) tomato sauce
- 5 g tamarind paste or ¼ teaspoon amchoor powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 cans (398ml each) chickpeas drained
- 2 tablespoon cilantro chopped, optional
- steamed basmati rice
- Gather spices into a bowl. Set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add in 2 tablespoon of ghee and sauté the white onion and ginger, until onion softens.
- Add in the garlic and all the spices.
- Fry until the spices are aromatic and fragrant.
- Transfer the spice mixture along with the onions, ginger and garlic into a high-powered blender.
- Add in water, tomato sauce, tamarind paste, salt, and sugar.
- Blend on high speed until smooth.
- Transfer sauce to a large pot and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes to release the spices' aroma.
- Add the canned chickpeas into the sauce and continue to simmer for another additional 20 minutes.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
- Remove from heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.
- Serve warm with steamed basmati rice and naan.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.