Chana Masala

23 Jan

chana masala

Despite the lengthy ingredient list, this North Indian chickpea stew comes together quickly and easily. It’s more of a tart curry, rather than some of the creamy ones with lots of warming spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc). Here, acidic tomatoes, tart amchoor powder, and citric lemon juice are strong components, alongside a hefty quantity of spices, of course. But it still manages to feel balanced, especially when served over rice (or quinoa, as I served it). I added cauliflower florets to my version (I think that actually makes this gobi chana masala), which I think are great alongside the creamy chickpeas. A sprinkle of cilantro at the end proved surprisingly crucial in rounding out the flavors (I wouldn’t omit it), and a little yogurt on top helps to quench the heat of hot peppers and ground cayenne pepper. I also topped mine with pickled red onions and thought their crispness was a great complementary texture. This curry, by the way, only improves with a couple of days in the refrigerator, so don’t hesitate to make this large batch even if you’re only cooking for one or two.

Chana Masala (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Yield: 6 – 8 servings


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil*
  • 3 onions, diced
  • 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ piece ginger, minced
  • 2 hot peppers, minced
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp amchoor powder (optional)**
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 large (28 – 32 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 5 cups cooked chickpeas (or 3 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt, to taste
  • cilantro, roughly chopped

*Ideally, use coconut oil or ghee.
**If not using, substitute with more lemon juice at the end.


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat, then sautee 3 onions, diced until starting to darken and caramelize, about 15 – 20 minutes.
  2. Add 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced, 1″ piece ginger, minced, 2 hot peppers, minced, 2 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 Tbsp ground coriander, 2 Tbsp amchoor powder, 1 1/2 Tbsp paprika, 1 Tbsp garam masala, 2 tsp ground turmeric, and 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper, and sautee until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add 1 large (28 – 32 ounce) can diced tomatoes, and cook briefly, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets, 5 cups cooked chickpeas (or 3 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed), and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the cauliflower is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in juice of 1 lemon, and add salt, to taste. Serve topped with cilantro, roughly chopped, and with yogurt and pickled red onions, if desired.

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