Chana Masala

This chana masala recipe is an easy, healthy one-pot meal! Warm spices, fresh ginger, and cilantro add rich flavor to the satisfying chickpea curry.

Chana masala

This chana masala recipe is about to become the star of your weeknight dinner rotation. It calls for pantry ingredients. It cooks in one pot. And though it comes together in just over 30 minutes, most of the cooking time is hands off, so you can tackle the (minimal) cleanup as it simmers. Best of all, this easy chana masala is healthy, flavorful, and super satisfying.

About Chana Masala

Chana masala is a chickpea curry. Its name translates literally to spiced chickpeas, “chana” meaning chickpeas and “masala” meaning spice. Variations of the dish, such as Punjabi chole masala, are popular throughout India and Pakistan. Though these vary in terms of preparation method and exact ingredients, most feature a spiced tomato and onion sauce.

Chana masala recipe ingredients

This recipe is my take on the chana masala I’ve enjoyed at Indian restaurants in the US. I can’t call it totally traditional. Authentic chana masala uses dried chickpeas and often fresh tomato puree. Some versions feature amchur, or dried mango powder, for its distinctive tang, and many recipes call for whole spices like cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks to add warming flavor.

I developed this recipe using ingredients I commonly keep in my pantry: canned chickpeas, canned tomatoes, and a handful of ground spices. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

How to Make Chana Masala

Here’s what you’ll need to make this chana masala recipe:


  • Chickpeas, of course! I typically make this recipe with canned chickpeas because they’re so darn convenient. But if you like, you can cook dried chickpeas from scratch. 1 cup dried will yield about 3 cups cooked. Prepare them according to this method for how to cook dried beans.
  • Yellow onion – Chop it finely so that it melds into the rich sauce.
  • Garlic and fresh ginger – Instead of chopping them with a knife, I grate them using a Microplane zester. It gives them a fine, paste-like texture that helps them release great flavor into the curry without a long cook time.
  • Cumin seeds – The only whole spice I call for here! You could substitute ground cumin, but the whole seeds add wonderful depth of flavor to this simple recipe.
  • Ground spices – You’ll need coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and cayenne. I also call for garam masala, an aromatic Indian spice blend. You can find it online or in the spice section of many grocery stores.
  • Canned whole peeled tomatoes and water – They create the tangy sauce.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds richness.
  • Cilantro – For fresh flavor. Mix some into the chana masala and sprinkle more on top.
  • Fresh lemon juice – For brightness.
  • And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Onions and spices cooking in a skillet with wooden spoon

My Easy Method

To make this chana masala recipe, start by sautéing the onion. Cook until it’s soft and browned, around 8 minutes.

Next, add the spices. Stir in the cumin seeds, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and cayenne. Cook until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Mix in the ginger, garlic, salt, and 1/4 cup of water.

Add the tomatoes and their juices. I like to break apart the tomatoes with my hands as I add them, but you could also crush them with your spatula or spoon once they’re in the skillet. Stir to combine with the onion and spices. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until it thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Adding chickpeas to tomato and onion sauce

Then, add the chickpeas. Stir them into the tomato sauce along with the remaining 1/4 cup water. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the curry is thick. Give it a good stir every few minutes to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan.

Finally, season and serve! Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro and season to taste.

Chana masala recipe in skillet

Serve the chana masala with lemon wedges for squeezing and more cilantro for garnish. I also like to top mine with a dollop of Greek yogurt, though this is completely optional. Without it, the recipe is vegan.

Pile the curry onto basmati rice for a gluten-free meal, or pair it with warm naan or roti. All are delicious!


Store leftover chana masala in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Tip: This chana masala recipe is GREAT leftover. The flavors just get better as it sits in the fridge!

Chana masala with rice

More Favorite Chickpea Recipes

If you love this chana masala, try one of these easy chickpea recipes next:

Get This Recipe In Your Inbox
Share your email, and we'll send it straight to your inbox. Plus, enjoy daily doses of recipe inspiration as a bonus!

Chana Masala

rate this recipe:
4.94 from 29 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves 4
This easy chana masala recipe is a healthy, satisfying vegan meal! Serve the flavorful chickpea curry over rice or scoop it up with warm naan.



  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often, or until soft and well browned.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cumin seeds, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and a pinch of cayenne. Stir and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the garlic, ginger, salt, and ¼ cup of the water.
  • Add the tomatoes, breaking them apart with your hands as you add them or crushing them with a wooden spoon in the skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Add the chickpeas and the remaining ¼ cup water, stir, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thick. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice.
  • Serve over rice with dollops of Greek yogurt, more cilantro, and more lemon juice, if desired.

Sources: Cook with Manali, Swasthi’s Recipes, Zainab ShahIndian-ish by Priya Krishna, and Sarah DiGregorio


4.94 from 29 votes (14 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Babs

    4 stars
    Chana doesn’t normally have cayenne pepper. The red pepper in chana is called kashmiri mirch, it has a different flavor and is not as spicy, unless you specifically get the hot variety. You can get kashmiri mirch from Rana. They have an Amazon store.

  2. Kailasam

    I am very impressed with your article. I got very useful information while reading this article. You have to post various comments like this.

  3. n

    Nutritional info would be nice.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi, thanks for your feedback! We don’t currently calculate nutrition facts for our recipes, so an online nutrition calculator is the best way to get an estimate.

  4. Mal

    5 stars
    This dish turned out amazing! It is 100x better then it looks. Very impressed with the simplicity. I have also tried to use receipes before and so many of them fail at seasoning flavorful enough. I am so excited to buy your book and make more delicious food!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Mal, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Lovely. a great dish. Unfortunately I’d have to add some chicken for my husband.

  6. Tulsi

    5 stars
    As tasty as the one I cook at home!👌🏽

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Frances

    5 stars
    Great seasoning, and glad for spinach in it. The lime and lemon juice at the finish gives it a lift too. I was wondering if anyone has tried to freeze this? Would make again. Thank you!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Yes, this recipe would freeze great! So glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Shirley from love%20and%20lemons

    5 stars
    Jan. 25/ 23

    Delicious! It had so much flavor. I used 3/4 of a teaspoon of the spices, which was perfect for me. I didn’t have any fresh garlic, so I added garlic powder. Made some quinoa instead of rice. I sliced toasted a pita pocket in the toaster oven and dabbed some vegan margarine. Plenty left for lunch and supper for the entire weekend.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Margarita

    5 stars
    Made this today and had the most wonderful visit for dinner. It was simple and delicious, yet so much flavor. I did not cook the spinach in the stew and decided to add it on the side. I cooked basmati rice and served some into bowls, poured the chana masala over 3/4 of it, and packed a bunch of spinach to the other 1/4. Looked beautiful and felt crunchy and satisfying. Thanks again for an awesome recipe L & L ♡

  10. Elisa

    5 stars
    DISCLAIMER: While perusing your site, trying to find a rice dish to cook for dinner tonight, I ran across this recipe… My British friend made this for us on her last visit to the USA but I was not a fan of the Indian spices (and thus do not have them in my pantry). I still loved the look of yours, so I decided to make it, but without the Indian herbs/spices.
    I usually follow recipes precisely for reviews because I know how hard chefs work to perfect their recipes. So this may not exactly be a review of your recipe, but it is a review of how flexible your recipes are!

    I did prepare it exactly as written, with the exception of the spices and my entire family is raving about it.

    My substitutions:
    basil, lemon thyme, allspice, pine nuts.

    Did not use:
    cumin seed, coriander, turmeric, cardamom pods or garam masala.

    I hope this helps others who are not fans of Indian seasonings or perhaps simply do not have them in their pantry. Never let a lack of ingredients deter you from trying your own twist on a recipe!

    Thank you so much for another great dinner idea!

  11. Amanda

    5 stars
    This recipe was AMAZING!! I was afraid with all the spices (many of which I wasn’t familiar with) I wouldn’t like all the flavor, but it was perfect! I added a little more water toward the end of cooking the chickpeas and used ever so slightly less cayenne pepper. Other than that, I followed it exactly. Highly recommend and will have to make it again!

  12. 5 stars
    Great recipe and love your website. Just discovered it. Such fresh, fun photos too.

  13. bankers lamp

    thanks for recipe sharing. I hope it will be helpful for too many people that are searching for this topic.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.