Chana Masala

Easy and simple Chana Masala using raw chickpeas which are soaked overnight and then cooked with onion, tomatoes and spices.

This popular Indian dish is vegan and gluten-free and pairs well with rice or naan.

chana masala in a green color pot with a wooden spatula

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Chana Masala needs no introduction. It is one of the most popular Indian dishes, whether its in India or in the western world.

In Delhi though, we usually make Chole, which is very similar to Chana Masala but uses a special blend of spices.

Both are made with white chickpeas but chana masala is made using basic everyday Indian spices.

Punjabi style chole is also usually darker in color and simmered for much longer time.

However, my mom made this simple Chana Masala often with poori or paratha and we relished every bit of it.

This Chana Masala

✔ is vegan and gluten-free

✔ protein-packed dish for vegetarians and vegans

✔ wonderfully spiced

✔ freezes well and also great for meal planning

The dish uses everyday Indian spices like coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika, turmeric and garam masala.

Often, red chili powder is also used. I haven’t used it here since I am not a fan of heat but feel free to add it if you like.

The base of the dish is a onion-tomato masala which is made by cooking fresh onion and tomatoes along with ginger-garlic and green chili.

The spices are then added to the masala along with boiled chickpeas and them simmered until done.

This recipe is pretty basic and straight forward, if you like cooking Indian food, then you most likely will have all these spices at home.

Tips to Make Good Chana Masala

Here are some of my tips to make a good chana masala at home!

Use raw chickpeas: okay, I know there’s always a rush to have dinner ready and so we tend to use the canned stuff often.

However, if you can plan ahead I highly recommend using raw chickpeas for the recipe and soaking it overnight.

It does make a difference to the final taste of the chana masala. Take it from someone who grew up eating this dish very regularly, the canned version isn’t just the same.

Use fresh ingredients: like using fresh ginger-garlic in place of store bought ginger-garlic paste makes a difference to the final taste.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium-low: once you have added the boiled/cooked chickpeas along with water to the pot, lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps the flavors to come together, do not skip this step.

Don’t skip on the kasuri methi & cilantro: Once the dish is ready, don’t forget to add some kasuri methi which are dried fenugreek leaves and impart a wonderful aroma to the dish.

Also, a handful of cilantro is must!

Pro-tip: I haven’t done this in the recipe, but to elevate the flavors, you can do that extra-step of frying ginger julienne in ghee and adding it to the chana masala (see notes in the recipe card).

chana masala served with white basmati rice and sliced onions in a black color round bowl

Using Canned Chickpeas

You can make this chana masala recipe using canned chickpeas.

Simply skip the steps of soaking and pressure cooking the chickpeas. Use 2.5 cups cooked (canned) chickpeas, around 425 grams.

A 15 oz can of chickpeas typically has 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas so you would need around 1 and a half of those cans.

Follow all the steps as it is!

Freezing The Dish

Can this freeze well? Yes, chickpeas usually freeze well and this chana masala is no exception.

Let it cool down to room temperature and then store in a freezer safe container or ziplock and freeze.

Serving Suggestions

The dish goes well with jeera rice or garlic naan.

Method

1- Soak 1 cup raw white chickpeas (200 grams) overnight in 3 cups (24 oz) water. In the morning, drain the water and transfer the soaked chickpeas to a pressure cooker along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 to 2.5 cups (16 oz-20 oz) water. After soaking overnight, the volume of chickpeas increased to 2.5 cups (425 grams)!

Instant Pot: Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes with natural pressure release.

Stove-top pressure cooker: cook on high heat for 2 whistles, them lower heat to medium and cook for additional 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.

2- Once pressure cooked, the chickpeas will break easily when pressed between your thumb and index finger.

If using canned chickpeas, you can skip these steps, use 2.5 cups canned chickpeas and directly move to cooking the chana masala in the pot.

3- Using a mortar and pestle, crush the ginger, garlic and green chili. Set it aside.

4- Heat a pot/pan over medium heat on stove-top. Once hot, add the oil and then add the whole spices- bay leaf, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and cumin seeds.

Let the spices sizzle for 30 seconds and become fragrant.

step by step picture collage of making chana masala at home

5- Add the finely chopped onion and stir. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions soften. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt here so that onions cook a little faster. Meanwhile puree 2 tomatoes using a blender and set aside.

6- Add the crushed ginger-garlic and green chili. Stir and cook for a minute or two until the raw smell of the ginger-garlic goes away.

7- Add the pureed tomatoes along with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.

8- Then add the ground spices- coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika, turmeric and garam masala.

step by step picture collage of making chana masala at home

9- Cook the spices for 30 seconds. The oil should ooze out of the sides of the masala at this point.

10- Stir in the boiled chickpeas and mix. Also add 2 cups of water and stir. I used the same water in which the chickpeas were boiled. You can add more water here if you prefer more gravy in your chana masala.

Taste test and adjust the salt at this point, I added 1/8 teaspoon more salt here.

11- Cover the pot with a lid, set heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to mix-in.

12- Stir in crushed kasuri methi and chopped cilantro.

step by step picture collage of making chana masala at home

Garnish with more cilantro and serve Chana Masala with rice or naan! You may also squeeze some fresh lemon juice if desired.

chana masala served in a round black bowl with a spoon, a small bowl of rice placed in the background and another plate with sliced onions on the side

If you’ve tried this Chana Masala Recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!

Chana Masala

chana masala in a green color pot with a wooden spatula
Manali
Simple Chana Masala made using everyday Indian spices. Raw chickpeas are soaked overnight and then cooked in a onion-tomato based masala. Vegan and gluten-free.
5 from 7 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 3
Calories 234 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup white chickpeas raw, 200 grams, soaked overnight or use 2.5 cups canned chickpeas
  • 3/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt or as needed, divided
  • 2.5 cups water to boil the chickpeas, skip if using canned chickpeas
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 green chili or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil 30 ml, I use avocado oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole green cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 7-8 whole black peppercorns
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes pureed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi crushed, dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Soak 1 cup raw white chickpeas (200 grams) overnight in 3 cups (24 oz) water. In the morning, drain the water and transfer the soaked chickpeas to a pressure cooker along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 to 2.5 cups (16 oz-20 oz) water. After soaking overnight, the volume of chickpeas increased to 2.5 cups (425 grams)!
    Instant Pot: Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes with natural pressure release.
    Stove-top pressure cooker: cook on high heat for 2 whistles, them lower heat to medium and cook for additional 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Once pressure cooked, the chickpeas will break easily when pressed between your thumb and index finger.
    If using canned chickpeas, you can skip these steps, use 2.5 cups canned chickpeas and directly move to cooking the chana masala in the pot.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the ginger, garlic and green chili. Set it aside.
  • Heat a pot/pan over medium heat on stove-top. Once hot, add the oil and then add the whole spices- bay leaf, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and cumin seeds.
    Let the spices sizzle for 30 seconds and become fragrant.
  • Add the finely chopped onion and stir. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions soften. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt here so that onions cook a little faster. Meanwhile puree 2 tomatoes using a blender and set aside.
  • Add the crushed ginger-garlic and green chili. Stir and cook for a minute or two until the raw smell of the ginger-garlic goes away.
  • Add the pureed tomatoes along with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.
  • Then add the ground spices- coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika, turmeric and garam masala. Cook the spices for 30 seconds. The oil should ooze out of the sides of the masala at this point.
  • Stir in the boiled chickpeas and mix. Also add 2 cups of water and stir. I used the same water in which the chickpeas were boiled. You can add more water here if you prefer more gravy in your chana masala.
    Taste test and adjust the salt at this point, I added 1/8 teaspoon more salt here.
  • Cover the pot with a lid, set heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to mix-in together.
  • Stir in crushed kasuri methi and chopped cilantro.
  • Garnish with more cilantro and serve Chana Masala with rice or naan! You may also squeeze some fresh lemon juice if desired (see notes).

Notes

  1. You can use a can of diced tomatoes if you don't have fresh tomatoes. Just cook the tomatoes for 2 minutes only then compared to 5 minutes with fresh pureed tomatoes.
  2. If you prefer spicy food, add 1/4 teaspoon (or even more) of red chili powder for that extra-kick. You can even increase the green chilies in the recipe.
  3. I usually squeeze some fresh lemon juice in my chana masala once done, but here the tomatoes that I used were quite tangy so I didn't feel the need. If your tomatoes aren't that tangy, squeeze some lemon juice before serving.
  4. I haven't done this in the recipe, but to elevate the flavors, you can do that extra-step of frying ginger julienne in ghee and adding it to the chana masala. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small pan on medium heat. Once hot, add sliced ginger julienne (from 1-inch ginger) to it. Fry until the ginger julienne starts changing color, then add this to the chana masala. Do remember though that the dish won't be vegan any longer if you do this extra-step and add ghee. 

Nutrition

Calories: 234kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 213mgPotassium: 519mgFiber: 8gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 929IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 3mg
Keyword chana masala
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25 thoughts on “Chana Masala

  1. Hi Manali, l love your blog. Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes! I have a recipe request. Can you please share your recipe for garam masala?

  2. Hi Manali! This looks really delicious!! Is there a way to substitute fresh tomatoes for canned? I just don’t have any at the moment and really want to try this!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night for my mom, and I and we absolutely loved it. There was so much flavor in this dish, I will definitely be making it again. Happy to have found your website, I can’t wait to try other recipes!!

  4. I’m a bit confused: are you just supposed to the put the soaked chickpeas in the pressure cooker without any water?

  5. 5 stars
    Love this dish but be careful with canned tomatoes. A whole can (400g) seems to overwhelm the spices – half at most.

  6. Hi Manaly!

    Thank you for the recipe. It taste great :).

    Have a nice day, looking forward to try more of your recipes :).

    Michaela

  7. 5 stars
    Seriously delicious! I don’t have most of the whole spices at the moment, but even without them, this recipe was packed to the gills with yummy, yummy flavour 😋 I reckon this’ll quickly become a staple of mine! Thanks, Manali 😄

  8. 5 stars
    This was SO GOOD!

    I’ve been looking for vegetarian recipes to start adding into my regular weekly dinner rotation and this has made the cut!

    Thanks so much and I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

  9. My friend made this for me tonight and it is amazing. One question… what type of green chili do you use? I want to make this myself since my daughter enjoyed it so much!

  10. I do not have the whole spices that are put in first, but have all them in ground spices. Is there an amount to substitute, or should I really just go and get the real deal!? Thank you!

    1. hmm whole spices give so much more flavor to the dish. You can try adding 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom, pinch of cinnamon and cloves powder and see how that goes.

  11. 5 stars
    This has to be one of the most delicious and simple recipes ever! Since trying it a few weeks ago we have made it upwards of 5 times! Your recipes are always so well-written and easy to follow – thank you so much, Manali!

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