Chana masala, also called chole masala, is believed to have originated in northern India. “Chana” means chickpea and “masala” refers to a blend of spices used in Indian cooking.
It’s a popular dish throughout India and Pakistan, with recipes varying by region. And it’s also gained popularity around the world. The following is my inspired version resembling what i’ve tasted in restaurants.
The result is a thick, stew-like curry that’s extremely flavourful, easy to make, not overly spicy, and the perfect hearty plant-based meal.
Enjoy this dish on its own, over rice or cauliflower rice,
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp sea salt (divided // plus more to taste)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (6 cloves yield ~3 Tbsp)
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2-3 fresh green chilies, sliced with seeds
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 28-ounce can pureed tomatoes
- 3 15-ounce cans chickpeas, slightly drained
- 1 tsp garam masala – i used store bought alternatively make you own (recipe below)
- 2-3 tsp coconut sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (plus more to taste)
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, cumin, and one-third of the salt (adjust if altering batch size).
- Add garlic, ginger, cilantro, and green chilies to a mortar and pestle and grind into a rough paste (or use a small food processor to pulse into a paste. Alternatively, just finely mince.) Then, add to the pan with the onions.
- Next add ground coriander, chili powder, and turmeric and stir to coat. Add a little more oil at this point if the pan is looking dry.
- Next add pureed tomatoes and chickpeas and remaining salt.
- If the mixture looks a little too thick, add up to 1 cup (240 ml) water (I added ~1/2 cup (120 ml). You’re looking for a semi-thick soup consistency at this point, as it will cook down into more of a stew.
- Increase heat to medium high until it reaches a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low or medium-low and maintain a simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes, or until thick and stew-like. Stir occasionally.
- In the meantime, if you don’t have garam masala seasoning, make your own by adding: 2 small dried red chilies, 1 tsp black peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp ground black pepper), 1 tsp cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin), 1 tsp cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom), 1/2 tsp cloves (or 1/4 tsp ground cloves), and 1/8 tsp nutmeg to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind/mix into a powder. Set aside.
- When the chana masala is thickened and bubbly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, chili powder for heat, or a bit of coconut sugar for sweetness and to offset the heat of the chilies.
- Remove from heat and add lemon juice and garam masala. Stir to mix, then let cool slightly before serving. Fresh cilantro and lemon juice make an excellent garnish.
Chana masala can be enjoyed as a stew on its own, or it can be delicious with white, brown or cauliflower rice.
Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.