Easy Chana Masala

4 minutes, 30 seconds Read

It’s challenging and exhausting, and I have to manage my expectations even before we get there constantly. It’s especially difficult when we arrive, like when we go to Croatia, where it is cold, windy, and noisy.

It sounded negative. It’s just honesty. You may not have noticed that even though it can be difficult to travel, we enjoy it and do so often. We are grateful for this opportunity. We’re hoping to travel more this year and can’t wait.

Traveling inspires me despite its challenges. Every meal is an opportunity for us to learn more about another culture. What a wonderful thing.

This recipe is inspired by an amazing meal we had in Oslo, Norway. The weather was cold and windy, and all the shops were closed on Sundays (manage your expectations, Dana. Manage expectations). However, we still found an amazing Indian restaurant where I had the best meal I’ve ever eaten.

Yes, big claims! It’s because of the chana masala.

Chana Masala

is believed that chole masala originated in north India. “Chana,” which is chickpea, and “masala,” which is a mixture of spices in Indian cuisine, are two different words.

The dish is popular in India and Pakistan. Recipes vary by region. It’s become popular all over the world. This is our version inspired by what we have tasted in restaurants. Here is a more traditional preparation.

Chana Masala Recipe

Our version includes green chilies with onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro. We also add chickpeas and tomatoes. There are many ways to prepare it, but I went with the simplest: One pot and 30 minutes.

The first thing you need is onion and cumin. The paste is made of fresh cilantro, green chilis, and ginger. The flavor is dominated by coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. Chickpeas provide fiber, texture, and protein. Pureed tomato adds body and richness.

Garam masala and lemon juice are the magic ingredients that transform this dish into a dish you will love.

This thick, stew-like dish is easy to prepare, delicious, and not too spicy. It is a perfect plant-based, hearty meal.

This dish is delicious on its own or over rice, cauli rice (my personal favorite), or over sweet potatoes and broccoli. This dish is delicious and a great way to add more vegetables to your diet.


  • Use grapeseed oil, avocado, coconut oil, or any neutral oil.
  • Finely dice one medium yellow or white onion
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt (divided // plus more to taste)
  • Six cloves garlic, minced (6 cloves yield ~3 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 fresh green chilies*, sliced with seeds (I used serrano peppers // reduce the amount if you prefer less heat)
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 (28-ounce) can puree*, crushed, or finely diced tomatoes (if unsalted, you’ll add more salt to the dish)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas, slightly drained
  • 1 tsp garam masala* (see instructions for DIY blend)
  • 2-3 tsp coconut sugar (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (plus more to taste // optional)


  • Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, cumin, and one-third of the salt (1/4 tsp as the original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size).
  • Add garlic, ginger, cilantro, and green chilies to a mortar and pestle and grind into a rough paste (or use a small food processor to pulse into a paste. Alternatively, just finely mince.) Then, add to the pan with the onions.
  • Next, add ground coriander, chili powder, and turmeric and stir to coat. Add a little more oil at this point if the pan is looking dry.
  • Next, add pureed tomatoes and chickpeas and the remaining salt (1/2 tsp as the original recipe is written). If the mixture looks a little too thick, add up to 1 cup (240 ml) of water (I added ~1/2 cup (120 ml) // amount as the original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). You’re looking for a semi-thick soup consistency at this point, as it will cook down into more of a stew.
  • Increase heat to medium-high until it reaches a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low or medium-low and maintain a simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes or until thick and stew-like. Stir occasionally.
  • In the meantime, if you don’t have garam masala seasoning, make your own by adding (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) 2 small dried red chilies, 1 tsp black peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp ground black pepper), 1 tsp cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin), 1 tsp cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom), 1/2 tsp cloves (or 1/4 tsp ground cloves), and 1/8 tsp nutmeg to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind/mix into a powder. Set aside.
  • When the chana masala is thickened and bubbly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, chili powder for heat, or a bit of coconut sugar for sweetness and to offset the heat of the chilies.
  • Remove from heat and add lemon juice and garam masala. Stir to mix, then let cool slightly before serving. Fresh cilantro and lemon juice make an excellent garnish. Chana masala can be enjoyed as a stew on its own, or it can be delicious with white or brown rice or cauliflower rice. Lastly, my favorite is over-roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (see notes for instructions).
  • Leftovers will be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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