I add spinach to this simple version of traditional Indian chana masala. I love how the green leaves contrast with the bright, spiced tomato sauce.
I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I LOVE chickpeas. They’re such a healthy, versatile plant-based protein, and they’re so easy to keep on hand in the pantry. Actually, aside from the fresh spinach, this entire chana masala recipe is pretty pantry-friendly.
My Chana Masala Recipe
As always, when I post an Indian-inspired dish, I want to give you the disclaimer that it might not be the most authentic version (remember Aloo Gobi-ish?). I love chana masala when I go to Indian restaurants, and I think this at-home version tastes really good without using hard-to-find ingredients that you might encounter in other chana masala recipes.
You likely have many of these spices on hand, although for this recipe, I recommend that you check and make sure your spices are pretty fresh. Dried spices don’t really go bad, but they do lose their potency over time, so if your spice drawer items are over a year old, you might think about refreshing them.
(Note that I’ve shown cardamom powder in the spice photo above, but this recipe is actually best with whole cardamom pods).
And of course, chana masala isn’t supposed to have spinach, but, hey, I like to pack in green vegetables whenever I can.
Chana Masala Serving Suggestions
Let me know how this chana masala recipe turns out for you in the comments! I hope you love it.
If you love this chana masala recipe…
- 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 cardamom pods, minced (discard the outer shells)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
- 5 to 8 ounces fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 tablespoon lime juice, more to taste
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and generous pinches of salt and pepper and cook until browned and very soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds halfway through.
- Add the coriander, turmeric, cardamom, garlic, garam masala, ginger and cayenne pepper, if using, and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add ¼ cup of water and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and another few pinches of salt. Stir and bring to a low simmer so that it’s bubbling just a bit. Cook on medium heat to thicken, about 6 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas, ¼ cup more water, and another pinch of salt, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and it’s a thick stew, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach until wilted. Remove from the heat.
- Add the lemon/lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon or lime if desired. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving. Serve with steamed rice and naan, if desired.