Chana Masala – A flavorful vegan chickpea recipe that’s quick and easy to make for a healthy Indian inspired weeknight dinner ready in 30 minutes!
What is Chana Masala?
Chana Masala (meaning ‘mixed-spice small chickpea’) is a wonderful, healthy blend of savory flavors creating a mildly spicy, hearty Indian chickpea stew that’s typically served with basmati rice, although quinoa is fantastic too. Ingredients vary from region to region, but typically it includes chickpeas, tomatoes, coriander, onion, garlic, ginger and various other warming spices.
Skip The Restaurant!
Instead of eating at the restaurant or bringing home take-out, opt to make this 30-minute Indian inspired dinner at home instead. This chana masala recipe is a simplified version of this chickpea and tomato stew that’s quick, easy to make and uses mostly pantry staples. Plus, it’s inexpensive too!
Chana Masala Ingredients
- Chickpeas: For convenience, I’ve used 2 cans of chickpeas, but fresh cooked is great too. If using fresh garbanzo beans, 3 – 4 cups will do perfectly.
- Tomatoes: To keep it easy we’ll use 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes with the juices. If you prefer fresh produce, use 2 medium tomatoes (chopped) or 1 + 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes instead.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger adds wonderful flavor to the overall dish. Use 2 tablespoons, grated or minced, about 1 + 1/2 inch knob of ginger.
- Onion: I used a yellow onion here, but any onion will do – white, yellow or red.
- Garlic: Oh yes! This chana masala recipe calls for 4 – 5 cloves of garlic, or 1 giant clove of elephant garlic will do the trick.
- Chili pepper: Use 1 serrano pepper, or 2 if you like. In a pinch 1 jalapeno will work too.
- Spices: We’ll be using a flavorful blend of 2 tsp. garam masala and 1 tsp. each coriander, turmeric and cumin. Plus, a stick of cinnamon for just a hint of this warming spice. (see below for spice changes)
- Citrus: Adding a bit of citrus such as lime or lemon juice adds a slight sour flavor found in most Indian dishes and helps balance the spices. I prefer adding my lemon at the end of cooking.
- Garnish: Chana masala is great garnished with a few fresh ingredients such as chopped cilantro, cherry tomatoes and/or a handful of arugula.
How To Make Chana Masala
- Start with chopping, dicing and mincing the onion, garlic, ginger and serrano chili (shown above left). This is pretty much the most work you’ll have to do. I grated my ginger using this handy fine grater (affiliate link), but simply mincing your ginger is great too.
- In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium and saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic, ginger, chili and spices and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cinnamon stick and 1/4 cup of water, mix well (shown above right and below), turn heat to low and simmer at a gentle boil for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water if you prefer a saucier chickpea stew. Remove cinnamon stick and stir in the lemon juice.
And that’s it, pictured below, is the finished chickpea stew. It’s an easy 30-minute weeknight meal made in 1 pot that’s both healthy and delicious!
Serve with rice of choice – basmati, jasmine or brown rice all work well. Try this cilantro lime rice for over the top flavor. Couscous is also an option. I especially love it with quinoa for extra fiber and protein!
And for scooping and soaking, this easy Vegan Naan Bread is perfect!
Commonly Asked Questions
Can chickpea stew be made in advance?
Absolutely! In fact, I kind of prefer the flavors of my chana masala the next day. It seems to sweeten up a bit and the flavors have time to meld together and fully enhance. If making for meal prep your efforts will be worth while!
How Long Will Leftovers Keep?
Leftovers will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a covered container. Re-warm on the stovetop or the microwave. It makes a great meal prep for the week with Naan bread on the side for soaking up the juices.
Can you freeze chana masala?
Yes! This chickpea-tomato stew freezes well and can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 2 – 3 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
What if I don’t have all the spices?
Indian cuisine if full of spices which can be a little intimidating. I know most kitchens may not stock garam masala unless you cook with it often, but you can still pull off a flavorful chana masala using these other pantry staples.
- In place of garam masala use 1 + 1/2 teaspoons cumin and 1/2 teaspoon all spice.
- In place of a cinnamon stick use a pinch of cinnamon, about 1/8 teaspoon.
- If you don’t have turmeric, it’s fine to leave it out of the recipe.
I hope you enjoy this 30-minute chana masala as much as we do! It’s:
This wonderful thick, stew-like chickpea curry has been made over and over again in our home, it’s a perfectly hearty and filling plant-based meal. I especially love the addition of fresh produce like tomatoes, arugula and cilantro which take it over the top for me!
More Indian Inspired Recipes
- Curry Red Lentil Stew with Chickpea & Kale
- Spicy Red Lentil Dal
- Curry Roasted Cauliflower & Quinoa Salad
If you try this easy chickpea recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.Print
30-MINUTE CHANA MASALA
30-minute chana masala recipe is quick, easy and great served over basmati, jasmine or brown rice, or quinoa.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 - 6 1x
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Vegan, Indian, Gluten Free
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water for water saute
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 – 2 serrano chili peppers, seeds removed and diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon EACH ground coriander, cumin and turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cans (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 3 – 4 cups fresh cooked)
- 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes with juices
- 1/4 cup water, + more as needed
- 2 small lemons or limes, juice of
- mineral salt & pepper to taste
- grain of choice: rice, quinoa or couscous (optional)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- lemon or lime wedges
- sliced cherry tomatoes
Prep: Start with chopping, dicing and mincing the onion, garlic, ginger and serrano chili. This is pretty much the most work you’ll have to do. I grated my ginger using this handy fine grater (affiliate link), but simply mincing your ginger is great too.
Saute: In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic, ginger, chili and spices and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Cook: Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cinnamon stick and 1/4 cup of water, turn heat to low and simmer at a gentle boil for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water if you prefer a saucy chickpea stew. Remove cinnamon stick and stir in the lemon juice.
Serve: Serve with grain of choice and optional garnish. And for scooping and soaking, this easy Vegan Naan is perfect!
Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 5 – 6 days. To keep longer, store in the freezer for up to 2 – 3 months.
Serves 4 – 6
If you don’t have garam masala on hand, you can still pull off a flavorful stew replacing garam masala with:
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons cumin and 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- In place of a cinnamon stick, use a tiny pinch of cinnamon
- If you don’t have turmeric, it’s fine to omit it
In place of using 1 or 2 serrano chili peppers, 1 jalapeno (whatever size you prefer) will work too.