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:

Ingredients

  • 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!

Storage

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:

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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.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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

41 comments

4.94 from 29 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Melody
    01.09.2021

    5 stars
    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 fivenightsat-freddys.com
    07.10.2018

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

  4. Freda Marie
    06.29.2018

    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
    06.20.2017

    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
      06.20.2017

      🙂 Chopped preserved lemons sound like a delicious addition!

  6. Denise
    11.06.2016

    5 stars
    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
      11.06.2016

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

  7. Kathy
    10.06.2016

    5 stars
    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
    10.04.2016

    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
      10.04.2016

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

  9. Lynn from theactorsdiet.com
    10.01.2016

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

  10. Beth
    09.30.2016

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

  11. Luisa
    09.30.2016

    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
    09.29.2016

    5 stars
    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 minimalistbaker.com
    09.28.2016

    This is beautiful Jeanine! xoxo

  15. Natalie from workovereasy.com
    09.28.2016

    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
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  16. Marion
    09.28.2016

    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.