This easy chana masala is made with the simplest of ingredients, yet it will blow your taste buds away with perfect levels of spice, sweetness, and tang all wrapped up into a delicious and nutritious bowl of health.
We profess our love for India to whoever will listen, so this shouldn't come as a surprise that we do the same on our blog.
We are actually gearing up to move to India soon, but we've always had a deep love for their cuisine and culture. Traveling is, and always will be, a huge part of our life because of how much we're inspired by the traditions of others.
The reason Indian food fascinates us so much is because of the complex flavor profiles you can achieve by combining spices in a certain way. It always keeps us wanting more, that's for sure. Not only that, Indian food fits so perfectly with our lifestyle: cheap and great for leftovers.
This is one of the main reasons we love cooking with chickpeas so much. They are full of protein, fiber, and other nutrients, but they are also dirt cheap!
Chana, which is basically a type of jumbo chickpea, is the star ingredient in this dish. And masala means blended spices in Hindi. So, in essence we are making "chickpeas in blended spices." Sounds pretty amazing, right?
🍲 Key ingredients
- Chickpeas: these have to be one of the most nutrient-dense and versatile legumes known to man. We have so many recipes that utilize chickpeas, and they're truly the star of this dish (they are literally in the name). With India being 38% vegetarian, chickpeas act as the perfect meat replacement since they offer high levels of protein. But, as an added bonus, they also contain tons of fiber and other essential vitamins like folate, iron, and phosphorous.
- Tomatoes: this fruit everyone deems to be a vegetable is what gives a chana masala its rich body and gravy-like consistency. Not only do they taste amazing, but these babies are also packed with potassium, which is really good for your heart!
- Garlic & Onion: a perfect combination that starts off almost every popular Indian dish. These two ingredients create the absolute best smelling kitchen once they become fragrant in your pan. And of course, they are also super good for your health, so load up!
- Garam masala: garam masala is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, along with many other spices. Interestingly, garam masala is used all over India but the exact blend varies from region to region. This spice mix is used to finish dishes and is stirred in after cooking to preserve the aroma and pungent flavors.
This dish starts off by prepping the chickpeas. If you are cooking them from dry, start up your instant pot. Otherwise, open a couple cans and rinse them.
Next, heat coconut oil in a pan and add your diced onion and cumin. Once the onions are translucent, add in the chopped jalapeño, cilantro, garlic cloves, and ginger. Cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Once the onions and other spices are cooked enough, add in the diced tomatoes, coconut sugar, cayenne, turmeric, and coriander. Cook it all for another few minutes, then transfer to a blender to make the "gravy."
You can pulse it a few times if you like a chunky base, or blend it for a minute or two to make it smoother. We prefer a little more texture, but go with whatever your preference is!
Once blended, pour the gravy back into your pot and add in the chickpeas. Let everything simmer for another few minutes to combine spices some more.
Lastly, take the pot off the heat before adding in the lemon juice and garam masala. Have a taste, and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
If you like spicier chana masala, use more cayenne or jalapeño. If you like things sweeter, add in more coconut sugar.
A really great thing about Indian food is how well it stores. The spices soak in after sitting overnight, which just enhances the dish even more.
You can keep this chana masala in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 2 months.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Use apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice
- Buy and cook your chickpeas from dry
- Use extra rice to preserve more of the main dish
🍴 Tasting notes
With how simple it is to put together, and all the incredible flavors, it would be hard not to love this chana masala. It's:
If you try this recipe for dinner, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Easy Chana Masala
- Pressure cooker
- Medium pot
- High-speed blender
- 2 tbsp coconut oil ($0.24)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced ($0.24)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced ($0.24)
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced ($0.06)
- ½ medium jalapeño or other green chili, minced ($0.13)
- 28 fl. oz can diced tomatoes ($0.73)
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped ($0.14)
- 4 cups cooked chickpeas ($0.68)
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar ($0.09)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice ($0.27)
- 1 tbsp cumin ($0.03)
- 1 tsp turmeric ($0.01)
- ½ tbsp coriander ($0.02)
- ½ tsp cayenne powder ($0.04)
- ½ tbsp garam masala ($0.04)
- Sea salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
For Serving optional
- 3 cups basmati rice, cooked ($0.44)
- Chopped cilantro ($0.06)
- To start, prep the chickpeas. If you are cooking them from dry, start them in your pressure cooker. Otherwise, open enough cans to make 4 cups, rinse them thoroughly, and set them aside for later.
- Next, heat coconut oil in a pan on medium. Add in diced onion and cumin. Once the onions are translucent, add in chopped jalapeño, cilantro, garlic cloves, and ginger. Cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Then, add in the diced tomatoes, coconut sugar, cayenne, turmeric, and coriander. Cook mixture for another 5-6 minutes, then transfer to a blender or food processor to make the "gravy." Pulse it a few times if you like a chunky base, or blend it for 1-2 minutes for a smoother texture.
- Once blended to your preferred consistency, pour the base back into your pot and add in the chickpeas. Let everything simmer on low-medium for another 5-6 minutes with the lid on.
- Lastly, take your pot off the heat. Then, add in lemon juice and garam masala. Have a taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. Don't forget to season with salt and pepper as well.
- Serve with a side of rice, more chopped cilantro, or chutney!
- This recipe is best when spices are adjusted to personal taste. All freshness and potency of spices depend on the brand, region, and time of purchase. We recommend starting with half measurements and adding more as needed.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dish ideas, check out our:
- Moroccan chickpea stew if you're looking for an easy-to-make dinner great for leftovers with a ton of flavor.
- Red lentil dahl for a protein-packed meal with Indian spices.
- Smashed curried chickpea salad for a curried version of a vegan classic.
- Moroccan chickpea hummus for a creamy hummus with a little twist of delicious spices.
We would not recommend substituting garam masala for curry powder as this dish specifically calls for garam masala.
This chana masala recipe has a little bit of spice. We would rate it approximately 3-4/10. We find the coconut sugar balances the spice nicely though. If you want to make it more or less spicy, adjust the jalapeño or cayenne accordingly.
No, it is not necessary to blend the base if you'd like the chana masala to be more chunky.