Serves 8 to 10
Time: 1 hour || Active time: 30 minutes
One of the very first dishes I ever tried to recreate at home was chana masala. This was before the invention of vegetables, so when I went out for Indian food in my neighborhood, it was usually chana masala, a samosa and basmati rice. I probably started out with a recipe from somewhere, but I would just adjust, adjust and adjust until it tasted like what I would get on Coney Island avenue. Spicy, tangy, and fragrant, almost perfumed, with sweet spices like cardamom and cinnamon. The jalapenos probably have no place in chana masala, but hey, tell that to me 20 years ago.
I use fresh tomatoes in Indian inspired meals when I can because the clunky canned ones can end up tasting like spaghetti sauce, and luckily my tomato plants have been incredibly generous this year! Let me have a proud tomato mama moment and show you:
And when chickpeas are the absolute star of the show I prefer to cook dried ones, rather than use canned. The taste is fresher and the texture is meatier. I also find that coconut oil gives chana masala a richness that other oils lack, but since not everyone has coconut oil lying around, vegetable oil will be just fine! Same for subbing lime juice in place of tamarind concentrate.
This is one of those recipes that will help fine tune your taste buds. Look for the spicy, the sour, the salty, adjust until you’re thoroughly pleased. Even 20 years later and I’m still adding a little of this or that.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional, and more or less to taste)
For everything else:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced in medium pieces
2 jalapenos, deseeded and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 lbs tomatoes, diced
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two cans, rinsed and drained) note: 2 cups dried will give you the right amount
1 teaspoon agave
Juice of one lime, or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. I prefer a pan to a pot, because it gets the tomatoes to cook down faster.
Meanwhile, mix together the spice blend in a small bowl.
When the pan is hot, saute the onion in the coconut oil for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned. While it’s sauteeing you can prep the rest of the veggies.
Add the jalapeno, garlic and ginger, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cilantro and saute until wilted. Add the spice blend and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast a bit (about a minute or so).
Add the tomatoes and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add salt and pepper, chickpeas and agave. Cover the pan and bring heat up a bit. The tomatoes should take about 10 minutes to breakdown and get saucy. Remove the lid, and cook for about 20 more minutes on low heat, so that the flavors meld and the sauce thickens. It shouldn’t be too thick (like a marinara), but it shouldn’t be watery, either.
Add lime juice or tamarind concentrate. Taste for seasoning, you might want to add a little of this or that. Let sit for 10 minutes or so off the heat before serving. Serve with basmati rice and garnished with extra cilantro, if you like!
Looks soooo good, but I can’t eat tomatoes. Any ideas?
The story goes like this. When you first posted this, I made it a few days later. DH and I enjoyed it immensely, and lamented once it was gone. Yesterday, I made another batch. Afterward, though we currently have leftovers, I set another batch of chickpeas to soak. It’s that good.
🙂 Thank you for all you share and do. I think I have nearly all of your cookbooks at this point and have already enjoyed several recipes, though this one certainly would be on the shortlist of “And your last meal will be?” I look forward to cooking and enjoying more of your recipes, you’ve made my transition to vegan a most delicious one.
Thank you so much for letting me know! It’s stuff like this that keeps me inspired.
Oh man is this stuff good! I mean is there any type of food that Isa can’t help me make! I have struggled with all types of indian cuisine forever, I even bought a cookbook with just vegan Indian recipes but still could mnage anything worthy of seconds. This recipe however came out perfect! I love it and I’m sure my partner will too ( she has been a good sport about all my other attempts) I can’t wait for her to be pleasantly surprised by it’s deliciousness. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It is my go-to recipe for my lunch meals. I make a batch on Sunday, and it’s my lunch M-F. So far, I haven’t gotten tired of it. As we come to the end of fresh tomato season, I’m kind of dreading making this with canned tomatoes. Any tips? My main concern is that canned tomatoes don’t break down the way fresh tomatoes do. Maybe start with whole canned tomatoes and dice them up small? Help! Thanks!!
Yeah, just dice them, it will be good! I sometimes just squish them into small pieces with my hands if I’m feeling lazy.
Stupid question: I’m not a native speaker and my dictionary translates cilantro and coriander as the same thing. Is there a difference other than that one is fresh and the other is dried? Thanks a lot for your help, I will try this tonight!
When I say coriander it’s referring to the dried seed and cilantro is the fresh leaf.
This turned out great! I didn’t have agave, so I used molasses instead to add some sweetness. Thank you for this fantastic recipe.
It’s so comforting to see that like-minded individuals are also searching for a chana masala recipe now that it is fall! I’ve been craving this and had a very strong feeling that if I looked on PPK a great recipe would be awaiting. (haven’t yet tried it but will this week)
I am looking forward to making this tonight. I soaked the dried garbano beans overnight. About how long do I cook them and what should the texture be like? Thanks for guidance on this.
It varies depending on how old the beans are and other factors (like water temp, how long they soaked) but you should cover and bring to a boil, then immediately bring to a simmer, leaving the lid askew so that some steam can escape. Check in about an hour and just cook until they are soft enough to eat!
Made this last night and it was AMAZING! I love the heat it packs too… And was so easy so I think it’ll be a new staple in my vegan recipe repertoire. Thanks!!
I started using the PPK as a reference recently after seeing the movie Forks over Knives. I’ve been a foodie for years and have better-than-average cooking skills, however I’ve always had some difficulty finding good, simple, satisfying vegan staples. This was the third PPK recipe I’ve used that gave me magnificent results! I am officially in love with the PPK and I don’t care who knows it!!! Thank you from the bottom of my extremely healthy heart:)
(BTW the first two recipes I tried that also rocked thoroughly were the pizza w/ romesco and the goin back to cali rolls)
Thanks so much!
I stumbled onto your site via the Melie Bianco blog. Your chana masala looks great! I can almost smell the cilantro. The tamarind and jalapenos are bound to give it an extra kick. Must try it out. I really appreciate cooks who take the trouble to mix their own spices…alas, in India, we are spoilt by ready-mixed packaged masalas for every kind of curry we cook! Love the look and feel of your blog, I’ll be sure visit regularly!
OMG! I made this tonight for my mother-in-law who said: “This is the best thing i’ve ever put in my mouth!” I concur. This recipe is gorgeous. It is far better than any chana masala I’ve had in a restaurant. The flavors were so “alive”. I servied it with brown basmati rice and mango chutney, sweet-hot pickles and a little plain soy yogurt to cool it down. Sooooooooo good. I will definitely be making this time and time again. Thanks Isa!
This was the best curry I’ve ever cooked!
Or tasted, I should add :).
1. Kachumar makes a good accompaniment: Finely chop onion pieces or rings, rub with a little salt, red cayenne, black pepper. Add tiny bits of cucumber and tomato. Mix everything well with lemon juice. Add finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Or leave out the lemon juice and add sour soy yogurt. Eat!
2. Adding cubed potatoes to cook along with the already cooked chick peas is also good.
Made this tonight and it was awesome! We couldn’t stop eating it! I amped up the salt and the tamarind, but other than that followed everything else to the tee (or should I say to the t as in tsp, Tbsp?). Thanks for yet another great recipe to add to our family dinner repertoire!
Made this for what might be the 1000K time tonight. Each time it is special and tonight Actually been feasting on Isa fare all week (from AFR, Veganomicon, Brunch, Cookies, etc.) but could not declare the week complete without our absolute favorite dish (and let me say it has some pretty stiff competition).
Isa, I want to say thank you again and again. I’m only 6 months vegan, and my husband hasn’t declared anything… but he has been absolutely enchanted by the dishes that I make that you wrote or co-wrote. I know I said thank you before (probably on this particular thread, LOL!) but I wanted to say it one more time… THANK YOU! Much love from a fellow Brooklynite!
I just wanted to double-check the chickpea amount…it seems that 2 cups dried will produce quite a bit more than 3.5 cups.
It probably depends on what kind of chickpeas you use, but they should be between 3.5 and 4 cups.
janet @ the taste space
Made this with 28 oz of canned tomatoes and it still turned out wonderfully. Thanks Isa! 🙂
Cooking 2 cups of dried garbanzo beans, I ended up with over 5 cups of cooked beans. So, I used 4 cups for the recipe as I didn’t want the flavor to be diluted. I made the recipe exactly as stated except using 1/2 organic diced tomatoes since I didn’t have enough fresh (it IS Winter!). I loved the nuances of all the various spices and the tamarind gives an amazing dimension to the dish. My only complaint is that it was not spicy enough, so next time I will increase the cayenne and add one or two more chiles (perhaps serranos) to ‘kick it up a notch.’
Thanks for the great recipe!
Laura Brooke Allen
I just made this, and “My life just got so much better!” flew through my mouth. THANK YOU!
Just made this and had it for lunch. I can’t wait until dinner. <3 SO GOOD. Great diet food too.
I should also mention that my new favorite smell is that of onions sauteing in coconut oil. MMMM.
I made this tonight! I’m a new vegan and the most challenging thing so far has been finding new/easy recipes. I absolutely LOVE Indian food and I have plenty of Indian spices so it was easy to make… It was DELICIOUS!!
I didn’t have a few of the ingredients (agave, jalapenos, lime)… but no biggy – it was great!
You are truly the best. I’ve been vegan since September and have tried a ton of recipes but I am always utterly impressed with everything I make of yours. I am having some non-vegans over tomorrow and I can’t wait to watch them eat this! Thank you for everything!
Thank you kindly!
so good! I couldn’t believe how this tasted exactly like a local restaurant’s chana masala. Thank you for all your research and delivering us the best recipes!
This is a great recipe. Thanks for sharing!!
Being the incredibly lazy person I am, last night I attempted to make this dish without a much needed trip to the grocery store. I subbed canned tomatoes and pickled jalapenos for the fresh stuff, and left out the cilantro. And miraculously, it still turned out amazingly. I’ll definitely be making *Chandra* Masala again; hopefully the official version is as tasty as my pantry/lazy version!
Just made this last night and it was fantastic! Thanks for the recipe!
After becoming Veg about 2 months ago, I had tried a number of different Curry Recipes, and all were dismal failures – until this one!!!! Have made it twice in the last week, and even my daughter who doesn’t like Curries thinks it’s delicious, as has a number of meat eaters who have tried it. Thank you SO much for sharing this ‘keeper’ recipe!
I made this last night and it was definitely restaurant quality….I’m not sure if it’s authentic Indian as I have never been to India 😉
Oh, and I forgot to add that I felt that using the tamarind concentrate was a MUST in this dish. It gave it the tanginess and it helped with the sauce consistency too 🙂
Thanks for the great recipe! It was delicious!
Fantastic! Even though I used (28oz) canned tomatoes and canned chickpeas. Really, really tasty.
I have cardamom pods. Does cardamom also come in a powder (and would that be prefereable? Thanks!
Delicious. I did a few different things for this recipe — spinach instead of cilantro, half a cubed potato, a touch of garam masala and mango powder. It’s one of those dishes that can be spiced up to one’s liking. Just wonderful, ah!
PS: Nice tomatoes!
DELICIOUS. Thank you!
This is the best chana masala recipe I have used yet. Thank you 🙂
Made this yesterday. It is a wonderful recipe! I used the coconut oil and it worked great. Directions worked perfectly. Thank you for posting this. Everything on here looks great and I can’t wait to make something else.
Just when I was tasting and thinking to myself it is missing a little something, along came lime joice and added the final dot to my chana i. I did go a bit overboard with ginger (but I adore ginger and it is good for me so no biggy), skipped the alien jalopeno and added the alien pineapple instead and now my only concern is how to stop eating in time to keep the bowl! Too good!