Chana masala is a creamy, wholesome, and delicious Indian dish with mixed-spiced chickpeas cooked in a pot with onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes.
This one's an easy one-pot recipe you can make in 30 minutes. It's perfect for a quick and healthy dinner or meal-prepping as it gets better as it sits in the fridge.
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Making tasty Indian food at home is easier than most people think. Traditional Indian home cooking uses simple ingredients like chickpeas, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, flavored with plenty of colorful spices.
This chana masala, for example, is a simple yet flavorful recipe made in one pot with pantry staples. You can serve it with sautéed greens, roti or chapati bread, rice, or naan bread.
Chana Masala (also called channay, chole masala, chhole masala, chole, or chholay) is an excellent way to invite Indian flavors and aromas into your kitchen and wow your family and friends with a tasty, wholesome, healthy meal that will nourish their body and soul.
You can expect a dish with a citrusy and somewhat sour flavor, dryer and thicker than a curry, yet incredibly satisfying, warm, and aromatic.
Dietary note: our recipe is vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free (provided you don't serve it with bread).
We generally use drained and rinsed canned chickpeas to make Chana Masala.
You can also use dry chickpeas. In this case, we recommend soaking them in cold water with a teaspoon of baking soda for 12 to 24 hours, then cooking them in salted boiling water in a pot until tender (about two hours), or you can pressure cook them in a pressure cooker to save some time.
Onion, garlic, and ginger
Chopped onion, grated garlic, and grated ginger gently fried in oil for a few minutes are the holy trinity of Indian cooking and are essential to adding depth of flavor.
You can substitute ginger garlic paste for grated ginger and garlic.
We use extra virgin olive oil in all our cooking, including Indian dishes. We know olive oil is not traditional in Indian cuisine. However, it is still our choice because it's rich in polyphenols, making it stable at high temperatures and really good for you compared to most other refined oils.
You can substitute vegetable oil, avocado oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, ghee or clarified butter, or coconut oil for extra virgin olive oil.
You can use red chilies, green chilies, red chili powder, or red pepper flakes. We like to use red pepper flakes.
Add ground cumin, ground coriander, and turmeric powder first, then finish the dish with garam masala. Garam masala is added at the end to preserve its fragrant aroma.
Note: garam masala is a traditional Indian spice mix made with ground whole spices such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, fennel seeds, cloves, aniseed, nutmeg, and green cardamom. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores, and it's also available online.
Garam masala is a wonderful spice blend, and we use it all the time in our Indian-inspired curries and stews. So we happily recommend adding it to your pantry!
We use canned tomatoes such as crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes. If in season, you can also use fresh ripe vine tomatoes.
Salt and pepper
Season this chana masala recipe with sea salt or kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Serve it with
Garnish your Chana Masala with a squeeze of lemon, chopped cilantro, and optionally with a dollop of yogurt or dairy-free yogurt - greek style yogurt is our favorite because dense and creamy.
You can serve it with any Indian bread, such as roti, chapati, naan, basmati rice, or jeera rice.
In a large skillet or dutch oven, warm up the oil. Add finely chopped onion and fry it for 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.
Add grated garlic, grated ginger, and red pepper flakes (or chopped chilis), and fry for one more minute.
Turn the heat down to low, and add ground cumin, coriander powder, and turmeric powder.
Stir with a wooden spoon and toast the spices for 1 minute, mixing them with the onion.
Add drained and rinsed chickpeas and stir them in the spices on medium heat for 1 minute.
Add canned tomatoes, water (use it to rinse the tomato can), salt, and pepper, then simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes or until you reach your desired texture and consistency.
When the chana masala is ready, turn the heat off, add the garam masala, stir, taste, and adjust for salt.
Serve in a bowl with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top and freshly chopped cilantro or parsley if you don't like cilantro.
Serve chana masala with roti, chapati, naan bread, or basmati rice. Remember to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice and chopped cilantro on top.
Optionally, add a dollop of plain unsweetened yogurt or dairy-free yogurt and a pinch of garam masala.
- Basmati rice: boiled in water (recipe coming soon).
- Naan bread: storebought or homemade naan bread (coming soon).
- Roti or chapati: an unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour (coming soon).
- Cauliflower rice: excellent as a bread or rice replacement.
Chana masala is similar to some of our popular Indian-inspired curries. For example, you can try the following:
Chana masala has a rich, aromatic flavor with somewhat sour and acidic notes from the ginger, onion, and lemon juice. You can make it more or less spicy based on your preference.
Chana means chickpeas in India, so you could use the names interchangeably.
"Chana" means chickpeas in Indian, while "masala" means spicy, as in made with different spices, not spicy as hot. Therefore, Chana masala can be translated as mixed-spiced chickpeas or chickpeas in spiced gravy.
- Make the flavor base: start your chana masala by frying onion, garlic, and ginger in oil to add a rich flavor base.
- Toast the spices: toasting the spices on the pan before adding liquids enhances the flavor of the spices.
- Add garam masala last: we recommend adding garam masala last to infuse the dish with a fresh and fragrant aroma. This is common practice in Indian cuisine.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead: chana masala is an excellent recipe for meal prep as it lasts (and gets better) in the fridge for up to 4 - 5 days.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: let chana masala cool down completely, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 6 months.
Thaw: defrost in the fridge over several hours or in the microwave with a thawing function.
Reheat: reheat it in a pot with a dash of water or in the microwave for a couple of minutes.
More Chickpea Recipes
Get more wholesome and exciting dinner inspiration from these chickpea recipes:
- Chickpea stew with Middle-Eastern spices and sweet potato married in a one-pot dish.
- Chickpea soup: a delicious, Italian-inspired recipe to feed the whole family.
- Pasta e Ceci with authentic Italian flavor and fresh herbs, a tomato-packed family favorite.
- Chickpea salad: easy lunch and dinner in 15 minutes, with a creamy mustard dressing.
- Easy chickpea soup with Italian flavors and a rich and creamy soup base.
More One-Pot Recipes
For more easy weeknight inspiration, see these quick and family-friendly one-pot ideas:
- Italian bean stew with pinto beans and a rich tomato sauce is a perfect family dinner idea.
- Easy lentil pasta with ditalini pasta, fresh Italian herbs, and a creamy texture.
- Lentil soup with leafy greens, dried lentils, and fresh herbs.
- Easy lentil curry: a reader's favorite with a balanced Indian spice mix and never-ending creaminess.
- Zucchini pasta with grated zucchini and fusilli pasta is an easy weeknight dinner idea!
For many more 30-minute meal ideas, check out our 30-minute meal category page.
- 1½ tablespoon oil olive oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1½ inch ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 3 cans (15 ounce each) chickpeas
- 2 cans (15 ounce each) diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 4 wedges lemon
- 2 tablespoons cilantro fresh coriander, or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 dollops yogurt or dairy-free yogurt
SERVE WITH (pick one)
- 4 portions basmati rice
- 4 naan bread
- 4 roti or chapati
- Warm up the oil in a large pan. Add finely chopped onion and fry for 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.Add grated garlic, grated ginger, and red pepper flakes, and fry 1 more minute.
- Turn the heat down to low, add cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Stir with a wooden spoon and toast the spices for 1 minute, or until you smell their fragrant aroma.
- Add drained and rinsed chickpeas and stir them in the spices, on medium heat, for 1 minute.
- Add canned tomatoes, water, salt, and black pepper.Stir and simmer on medium-low heat for about 25 minutes or until you reach your desired consistency.
- Turn the heat off, add the garam masala, stir, taste, and adjust for salt.
- Serve in a bowl with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, chopped cilantro, and, optionally, a dollop of yogurt. This dish is excellent with basmati rice, naan, or roti.