Chana Masala

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.

Chana Masala

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.

Chana Masala Recipe ingredients

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 with Spinach

Chana Masala Serving Suggestions

I recommend serving this recipe with steamed basmati rice, brown rice, cilantro lime rice, or even cauliflower rice. Warm naan is also excellent on the side.

If you’re looking for a healthy veggie side dish to pair with this recipe, I recommend roasted cauliflower or lemon green beans.

Let me know how this chana masala recipe turns out for you in the comments! I hope you love it.

Chana Masala Recipe

If you love this chana masala recipe…

Try my mixed vegetable curry, curried lentil soup, or curried stuffed sweet potato next!

4.9 from 11 reviews

Chana Masala

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A simplified version of traditional Indian chana masala, this healthy dish comes together in just 30 minutes. I add fresh spinach for extra nutrients and a pop of green.
Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 4
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in the spinach until wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. 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.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Melody

    I usually cut cayenne in half but forgot and it was a bit too much for us. So my husband threw in a can of coconut milk. NOT the stuff people use in place of regular milk. 5 oz of spinach was perfect and added enough liquid to loosen it a bit more. Since I start with dried chickpeas in an instapot, I cooked up 1 1/2 cups dried for 40 minutes and then did a natural release. Made 4 cups cooked. I threw it all in. Definitely a keeper!

  2. Chopped preserved lemons sound like a delicious addition!

  3. fnaf from

    Delicious! Really quick and easy to make. Looking forward to making it again!

  4. Freda Marie

    This is SO good! Added a bit !pre water than indicated…probably another 1/4 cup, otherwise made it exactly as written…SO GOOD!!!
    THANK YOU!!!!
    Comfort food with some nann!

  5. Mike

    I’ll be giving this one a try as I had chana masala at my local restaurant last night, and it was amazing.

    Amusingly, I discovered your blog thanks to the extra ingredient my restaurant added – chopped preserved lemons!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      🙂 Chopped preserved lemons sound like a delicious addition!

  6. Denise

    This was wonderful! Thank you so much for this recipe! Love the chick peas. I added chicken & cooked it in the crock pot — marvelous!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad! And thanks for letting me know that it worked in the crock pot!!

  7. Kathy

    I am new to your blog. I made this and shared it with a friend, and we both loved it! Thank you for the delicious, healthy recipe! I am now a devoted reader of Love and Lemons!

  8. Beth

    I just had to come back and tell you how amazing this was! Made it for dinner last night, and it could not have been better. The spices are spot on, and it was perfect on our rainy evening. I’ll be making this over and over. Thank you! 😊

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Yay, thank you for coming back to tell me! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  9. Lynn from

    I love chickpeas so much I wouldn’t mind there being a whole week devoted to them!

  10. Beth

    This looks delightful, and so inviting! Perfect for the start of Fall. Can’t wait to try this, hopefully tonight! 🙂

  11. Luisa

    Hi! I really want to try this recipe and want to get the flavours right. However, I only have ground ginger, cumin and cardamom. Can you tell me how much would you use of each? Thanks**

  12. TheGold.Asia

    This weekend I will try your recipe! 😀

  13. Looking forward to trying this! I’ve made a recipe similar to this and loved it. It had coconut milk which was awesome, but this recipe is perfect for a lite meal in comparison.

  14. dana from

    This is beautiful Jeanine! xoxo

  15. Natalie from

    This looks so good. I was looking for something new and warming for dinner next week – this is definitely on the short list -thank you!

    – Natalie

  16. Marion

    Looks so tasty and easy. Can’t wait to make it this weekend. I have too many leftovers to finish first.

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.