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Chana Masala – Caroline’s Cooking

    chana masala over rice in a bowl
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    Chana masala (chickpea curry) is a quick, easy and delicious vegetarian curry perfect for any night. Serve it simply with rice, bread, or alongside other dishes for an Indian feast. It’s also great to make ahead, too.

    chana masala over rice in a bowl

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    An early love of curry

    It might by well known elsewhere, but the UK has a curry obsession. And I, for one, grew up loving Indian flavors. While they are less common in the US, things like this vegetarian curry are easy to make at home.

    Chana masala is actually part of one of the first meals I cooked entirely myself, and remains a favorite. On the face of it, there isn’t much too it, being chickpeas cooked in a tomato base. But your tomato base doesn’t need to be basic. And that’s definitely true here, with a delicious mix of fresh and dry spices complementing the fresh tomato flavor.

    chana masala in serving bowl from overhead

    I know Indian recipes can be off-putting for some as they tend to use a fairly large number of ingredients. To get that depth of flavor in a curry, you need a few elements.

    However, one of the great things about this dish is that while there are still a few ingredients, most are pretty familiar and many you probably have at home already.

    curry ingredients in small bowls and on cloth

    How to make Chana Masala

    • Finely dice the garlic, ginger, chili pepper and onion.
    • Warm the oil and add the onion. Cook a minute or two to soften.
    • Add the ginger, garlic and chilli pepper and cook a minute or two more.
    • Add the Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder and garam masala. Cover and simmer for around 5 minutes.
    • Add the chickpeas, mix well and cook around 10 minutes.
    • Squeeze in a little lemon juice (or stir in some tamarind concentrate), sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.

    It really comes together very easily and as I mention, is perfect for making ahead. In fact, the flavors are often better after a bit of time to mingle.

    cooking tomato based sauce before adding chickpeas

    Adding some spice

    Chickpeas can take (and arguably need) more spice than you might think to really take on all the great flavors here, so don’t be scared to add them. In fact, feel free to play around and add more if you like.

    Some spices like fresh ginger and garlic as well as dried cumin, coriander and turmeric are pretty key to this. It’s also a dish that needs some spice, so has both fresh and dried chili. If you are not a big spice fan, use jalepeños. Serrano chili will give a bit more heat.

    If you can’t find or don’t have garam masala, it’s just a blend of aromatic spices and so you can approximate it with the main ingredients. Add a pinch more cumin and coriander, plus a pinch each of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and nutmeg.

    When I used to make this in the UK, I always put some tamarind into the sauce. It gives a bit of a citrus-like tang, although it does make the sauce a bit darker in color. As an alternative, you can add a squeeze of lemon which I’ve seen in many other recipes. Both add that touch of freshness (just like the Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes, which are field to can in 8 hours or less).

    chana masala in serving bowl, over rice and with can of tomatoes to side

    What to serve with Chana Masala

    You can serve this dish on it’s own over basmati rice or with some Indian bread, like naan (peshwari naan is a favorite); or, as you might get it in India, with puris. Alternatively, serve it as a component to an Indian feast with other curries such as:

    With plenty of ways to enjoy it, chana masala is definitely one to add in to your regular rotation. Enjoy the delicious flavors with minimal effort any night of the week.

    chana masala served over rice with rest in bowl behind

    See more Indian recipes in the archives, from traditional curries like those above, chutneys like brinjal pickle and Anglo-Indian dishes like kedgeree.

    bowl of chana masala served over rice

    Print Recipe

    Chana Masala

    Chana masala is an easy and delicious Indian curry, great on it’s own or as a side.

    Prep Time5 mins

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    Cook Time20 mins

    Total Time25 mins

    Race: Main Course, Side Dish

    Kitchen: indian

    Services: 4 (or more, depending on how served)

    calories: 38calories

    Author: Caroline’s Cooking

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    Ingredients

    • 1 onion
    • 1 green chilli jalepeño if you prefer a bit milder, otherwise serrano
    • 1 clove garlic giving approx ½ tbsp
    • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger
    • 1 can Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes 14.5oz/410g
    • ½ teaspoon cumin
    • ½ teaspoon cilantro
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric
    • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
    • ¼ teaspoon garam masala see notes
    • 1 can chickpeas 15.5oz/440g
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or approx ½ tablespoon tamarind concentrate, if you prefer/have
    • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro cilantro, to serve

    Instructions

    • Finely dice the garlic, ginger, chili and onion.

    • Warm the oil in a medium pan and add the onion. Cook a minute or two to soften.

    • Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook a minute or two more.

    • Add the Organic Diced Tomatoes, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder and garam masala. Cover and simmer for around 5 minutes (see note).

    • Add the chickpeas, mix well and cook around 10 minutes.

    • Squeeze in a little lemon juice (or stir in some tamarind concentrate), sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.

    Ratings

    If you prefer a slightly thinner sauce, add a little water when you add the chickpeas. If you don’t have or can’t find garam masala, add a pinch more cumin and coriander, plus a pinch each of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and nutmeg.
    You can make this in advance and re-heat as needed. You can also make the sauce base a couple days ahead and then warm and re-start where you add the chickpeas when ready to serve.
    If you have longer, then giving it another 10 minutes or more to simmer before adding the chickpeas helps the flavors to mingle a little more.

    Nutrition

    calories: 38calories | Carbohydrates: 9g | protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 189mg | Potassium: 233mg | fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 170UI | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg

    See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.

    This post has been sponsored by Muir Glen. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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    Chana masala is a quick, easy and delicious vegetarian curry that's perfect for any night.  Serve it simply with rice, bread, or alongside other dishes for an Indian feast.  It's also great to make ahead, too.  #chickpeas #curry #vegetarian #vegan #indianfood #ad
    Chana masala is a quick, easy and delicious vegetarian curry that's perfect for any night.  Serve it simply with rice, bread, or alongside other dishes for an Indian feast.  It's also great to make ahead, too.  #chickpeas #curry #vegetarian #vegan #indianfood #ad

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