This is a quick and easy recipe for chana masala that works for a weeknight dinner, make-ahead meal and also an indulgent weekend lunch. Learn how to make chana masala gravy extra creamy with simple ingredients, whole spices and a little secret!
About the recipe
Chana masala is one of the basic Indian curry recipes like chicken curry and spinach dal. It is an Indian chickpea curry made of chickpeas (or chana) in gravy (or masala) made of delicious aromatic spices. If you like chickpea-based Indian dishes, you’ll love the Indian chickpea salad.
Love pasta and chickpeas? Creamy pasta with spinach and chickpeas is a way to sneak chickpeas into pasta!
Chana masala is a healthy chickpea curry without coconut or any other form of saturated fat. It is also naturally vegan and gluten-free since we don’t add cream or any other dairy product, or flour. Using canned chickpeas also makes it a quick and easy one-pot chana masala.
In this easy recipe, you’re about to learn how to make chana masala with fresh whole spices, which is a substitute for chana masala powder, either homemade or store-bought. This method is not only time-saving but also results in a more flavorful dish.
We did the same for curried brown chickpea soup recipe. There’s nothing to match the aroma of fresh and instantly ground spices in a curry.
You’re also going to learn the trick of thickening the curry in an easy, healthy way.
Let’s get started!
Either canned ones or the dry variety can be used. Canned chickpeas can be rinsed and added to the gravy.
If using dry chickpeas, soak them for 8 hours or overnight. If using pressure cooker, cook for about 6 whistles on medium heat. If using an instant pot, pressure cook at high pressure for 15 minutes and wait for the pressure to release naturally.
Other ingredients would be onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and a mix of spices for the gravy:
Chana masala spice mix
The choice and quantity of spices make all the difference to the chana masala.
WHOLE SPICES: Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, dry red chilli, bay leaf, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns and green chilli (optional).
GROUND SPICES: Chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder- for added flavor.
Step by step instructions
Blend onions, garlic, ginger and all the spices together. Puree the tomatoes.
Heat oil in a deep pan and sauté the blended onion-spice mix. Once it browns and gives a nice aroma, add tomato puree. Stir for a couple of minutes, then mix in the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Sauté until the water evaporates and the gravy becomes thick.
Reserve 1/4 cup of chickpeas and add the rest to the gravy. If using canned chickpeas, rinse, drain and add water. If you’re cooking dry chickpeas, use water from the cooked chickpeas. Cover and let it simmer on low heat.
Blend the reserved chickpeas with 1/2 cup of water into a smooth paste. Add it to the simmering gravy with water as required (1 to 1.5 cups) and mix well.
Slit the green chilli horizontally and add to the curry (this is optional). Adjust water and salt as required. Keep it covered and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Creamy healthy chickpea curry in 30 minutes! Dig in with your favorite naan, roti, or rice.
- Wipe the cinnamon and bay leaves with a damp cloth before using, to remove dirt.
- If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain before use. You wouldn’t want the added sodium in the liquid.
- Blend the reserved chickpeas very smooth. Smoother the paste, the curry will turn out creamier.
- Since we are blending fresh whole spices, you only need less quantity than using the store-bought or even homemade spice mix. (The ground spices tend to lose their flavors over time.)
- Want even more flavor? Try making this easy curry paste in advance and add a heaped tablespoon when you’re blending the onions and spices.
Common questions about chana masala
How can I soften chana quickly?
If you forget to soak dry chickpeas for chana masala, there’s a way to soften chana quickly. For 1 cup of chana, boil 4 cups of water and soak chana in it for 1 hour in a closed container. It softens quicker if soaked in a sealed container, pressure cooker or instant pot.
Cook the soaked chickpeas according to the recipe. However, the texture of chickpeas cooked this way may not turn out as creamy and soft as when you soak for 8 hours or longer.
Can you freeze chana masala?
Chana masala can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. If you want to use it beyond 2 days, it can be frozen. It freezes well and stays fresh up to a couple of months in the freezer. So
Is chana masala good for weight loss?
Chana (chickpeas) are rich in protein and fibre, which helps keep you full longer. They have no cholesterol. All of these factors make chickpeas one of the foods that help in weight loss.
This recipe is healthy since it does not use saturated fats like butter, cream or coconut milk to thicken the gravy.
What is chana masala served with?
Chana masala is usually served with naan or roti. You can also serve it with rice, either plain boiled rice or flavored rice like jeera rice or pulao with a vegetable side like roasted tandoori cauliflower or microwave-fried okra. For low-carb options, pair it with coconut cauliflower rice. If you’re a meat-lover, pair chana masala with rice and tandoori chicken or easy baked chicken legs.
Health benefits of chickpeas
- A cup of chickpeas provides almost one-third of an adult’s daily protein requirements.
- Chickpeas contain no cholesterol. They’re also rich in B-vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and selenium- all these factors support heart health.
- Chickpeas are rich sources of fibre that can help people with diabetes and those trying to lose weight.
- The iron, calcium and other nutrients in chickpeas contribute to healthy bone structure.
- Chickpeas have high levels of potassium that can help manage high blood pressure.
More easy delicious curries like this
More recipes with lentils/beans
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