This incredibly delicious homemade Chana Masala is a fantastic vegan entrée that is bursting with amazing Indian spices. Try serving this up with naan and a side of basmati rice.
I absolutely love digging into ethnic food to discover new techniques and flavors. If you like being adventurous when it comes to cooking, then absolutely check out my tasty birria tacos or general tso’s chicken.
Chana masala is a tasty vegan dish that originated in northern India that is jam-packed with chickpeas, masala spices, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. This tasty recipe can also be served as a vegetable side dish in addition to a main animal protein entrée.
You may also see in some recipes that this dish is known as chole masala, which is usually in reference to the type of garam masala spices that are used. There is definitely some spice in this recipe, but the balance of flavors is wonderful after finishing off with lemon or lime juice.
Ingredients for Chana Masala
- Chickpeas – I prefer to soak dried chickpeas, but canned chickpeas can be used.
- Cardamom – Whole black cardamom pods should be used.
- Cinnamon – Use a whole cinnamon stick.
- Pepper – Black peppercorns are best to use.
- Cloves – Whole dried cloves work great in this recipe.
- Bay Leaf – Any size dried bay leaf will work.
- Anise – If you cannot find star anise, you can substitute for caraway seeds.
- Cumin – Whole cumin seeds is best.
- Coriander – You can use crushed, but whole is best.
- Fennel – Whole fennel seeds will add some great licorice flavors to this.
- Mango Powder – You can find this online, if not see my notes on alternatives.
- Chiles – Kashmiri peppers are most classic but almost and dried chile would work.
- Turmeric – Ground is best to use.
- Chili Powder – Any type of dried ground powder will work.
- Garam Masala – Either homemade or store bought is perfect.
- Oil – I like to use plain vegetable or canola oil, but any neutral flavored oil will work.
- Onions – Use yellow onions but you can substitute for white, red, or sweets.
- Garlic – Fresh finely minced garlic is best.
- Ginger – Use peeled fresh finely grated.
- Tomatoes – I like to use Roma’s because they are a solid tomato you can get all year round, especially if you want to make this in the winter months.
- Peppers – Serrano peppers work great, but you can use jalapeños or Fresno peppers.
- Lemons – You can use lemon or lime juice in this recipe.
How to Make Chana Masala
Use these step-by-step procedures for making this tasty Indian Chana Masala recipe:
Submerge some dried chickpeas in water in a container and soak for 12-24 hours.
Next, drain the chickpeas after soaking and add to a large pot with water and cook over medium-low heat for 60-75 minutes or until tender. Keep warm.
Add the chana masala spices to a large frying pan and toast over low heat while constantly stirring for a total of 4-6 minutes.
After 2 minutes of the spices toasting, add in the spicy Kashmiri peppers and toast stir in, and cook for the remaining 2-4 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a spice grinder and grind until it becomes a powder. Set aside.
Caramelize onions in a large rondeau or saucepan with oil over low heat until well browned, which takes about 30-45 minutes.
Next, add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes and stew over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
Add in the serrano peppers, chana masala powder, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala powder, and cook for 2-3 minutes to incorporate the spices.
Take about 2-3 cups of the hot water from the pot of chickpeas and add it to the rondeau with the tomato mixture and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Drain the chickpeas and add them to the tomato mixture pot and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Finish with salt, additional chana or garam masala seasonings, and lemon juice,
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 1 day ahead of time, simply reheat and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro when ready to serve.
How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will freeze well covered for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating and serving.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a small size pan and heat over low heat until hot. Adjust the seasonings before serving.
Chef Notes + Tips
- You can absolutely undercook the chickpeas if you prefer them to be a little crunchier or al dente, simply stop the cooking process after 40 minutes.
- The reason you add in the spicy dried peppers later is because the skin can tend to burn a little quicker, so it does not need as much toasting.
- If you can’t get mango powder, purchase a package of dried mangos from the dried fruit section at your grocery store and lay out 2-3 pieces on a cookie sheet tray lined with parchment paper and cook for about 45-60 minutes at 250° and then grind in your spice grinder until a powder is formed.
- To use canned chickpeas, you will need 4 drained cans and you can add them strait to the tomato sauce at the same time you would add in the pre-boiled dried chickpeas.
- Keep the drained overnight chickpea liquid to use as aquafaba for plants or to make vegan eggs.
- After draining the cooked chickpeas, feel free to keep a little more of that water in the event you want to thin the tomato mixture down more.
- Feel free to add more kashmiri peppers if you really like spice.
More Entrée Recipes
Homemade Chana Masala Recipe
- For the Chana Masala Powder:
- 4 black cardamom pods
- ½ broken up cinnamon stick
- 6 black pepper corns
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon mango powder
- 1-2 kashmiri chiles
- For the Chana Masala:
- 3 cups dried chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 peeled small diced yellow onions
- 12 finely minced garlic cloves
- 1 ” chunk of peeled finely grated fresh ginger
- 8 large diced Roma tomatoes
- 1 seeded and thinly sliced serrano pepper
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Add the dried chickpeas to a container and cover with water by about 4-6 inches and soak for 12-24 hours.
- Next, drain the chickpeas after soaking and add them to a large pot with water and cook over medium-low heat for 60-75 minutes or until tender. Keep warm.
- Add the chana masala spices minus the chiles to a large frying pan and toast over low heat while constantly stirring for a total of 4-6 minutes.
- After 2 minutes of the spices toasting, add in the spicy Kashmiri peppers and toast stir in and cook for the remaining 2-4 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a spice grinder and grind until it becomes a powder. Set aside.
- Pour the oil into a large rondeau or saucepan over low heat and cook the onions until well browned and caramelized, which takes about 30-45 minutes.
- Next, add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Pour in the tomatoes and stew them over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Add in the serrano peppers, chana masala powder, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala powder and cook for 2-3 minutes to incorporate the spices.
- Take about 2-3 cups of the hot water from the pot of chickpeas and add it to the rondeau with the tomato mixture and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Drain the chickpeas and add them to the tomato mixture pot and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat. See notes.
- Finish with salt, additional chana or garam masala seasonings, and lemon juice,
- Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.