Chana Masala – A flavorful vegan chickpea curry recipe that’s quick and easy to make for a healthy Indian inspired weeknight dinner ready in 30 minutes!
Chana Masala (meaning ‘mixed-spice small chickpea’), also known as Chole Masala, is a hearty Indian chickpea stew served with basmati rice. Although quinoa is fantastic too!
It’s a wonderful blend of savory flavors made with chickpeas, tomatoes, coriander, onion, garlic, ginger, and various other warming spices, creating a mildly spicy and hearty Indian main dish.
Instead of eating at the restaurant or bringing home takeout, opt to make this quick and easy chickpea masala at home instead. Dinner will be on the table in 30 minutes!
This recipe is 100% vegan, budget-friendly, and uses mostly pantry staples!
- 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.
- Citrus: Adding a bit of citrus such as lime or lemon juice adds a slightly 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.
What if I don’t have all the spices?
Indian cuisine is 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 allspice.
- 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.
How To Make Chana Masala
Here is how to make Chana Masala in 4 simple steps! Included are a few step pictures for reference.
- 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), 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 pot of chickpea stew. It’s an easy 30-minute weeknight meal made in 1 pot that’s both healthy and delicious!
Can chana masala 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 To Store Leftovers
- Refrigerator: Leftovers will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a covered container. Re-warm on the stovetop or the microwave.
- Freezer: Chana masala is freezer friendly and can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 2 – 3 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Meal Prep: It makes great meal prep for the week with a piece of Naan bread on the side for soaking up the juices. I use and recommend these multi-use glass containers for prepping meals (affiliate link).
- Grains: 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.
- Fresh produce: The addition of fresh produce like tomatoes, arugula, and cilantro is what takes it over the top for me.
- Bread: And for scooping and soaking, this easy Vegan Naan is perfect!
More Easy Indian Inspired Recipes
- Chickpea Tikka Masala
- Curry Red Lentil Stew with Chickpea & Kale
- Spicy Red Lentil Dal
- Curry Roasted Cauliflower & Quinoa Salad
- Vegan Naan
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
Chana Masala (Quick + Easy)
Full of flavor, this 30 minutes 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 airtight 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.