Chana masala recipe – chana masala is a delicious Indian dish made with chickpeas simmered in a spicy onion tomato gravy. It goes well as a side with plain basmati rice, roti, paratha , naan, poori & even with flavored rice dishes like jeera rice, biryani rice, ghee rice.
This chana masala is different from the Punjabi chole and is made with just basic ingredients. Punjabi chole is spicier, tangy & uniquely flavoured as it uses dried amla, anardana, amchur & freshly ground chole masala.
Chana masala is a simpler curry made differently in each region. This restaurant style chana masala is one of the best you can make at home for your everyday meal. I make this almost every week & it is one of our favourite curries for lunch.
The first step to make chana masala starts with soaking the chickpeas overnight. Then pressure cooking them until tender.
The base of this curry is made by roasting onions and tomatoes first. This roasting step completely elevates the taste of the chana masala. Then the mixture is blended and cooked with spices to make the gravy. Lastly precooked chana is simmered in the curry.
Tips to make chana masala
- Soaking chana overnight reduces the cooking time and avoids flatulence.
- Pressure cooking chana with a pinch of cooking soda or soda-bi-carbonate helps to cook them softer. However you can also skip it and just cook the chana for longer or for more whistles.
- This chana masala is made with regular garam masala. Just ensure you use a good one as it is the key ingredient that flavours the dish.
How to make chana masala in one pot?
You can make one pot chana masala in pressure cooker or instant pot. However the texture of chana is not the same as that of the precooked chana. Well-cooked chana have a melt in the mouth texture. To achieve this texture, chana has to be cooked for very long when cooked with the onion tomato masala.
Chana masala recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for chana masala
- ¾ cup chana or chickpeas raw (or 2¼ cups soaked or canned)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 Pinch cooking soda or soda-bi-carbonate (optional, refer notes)
To fry & blend
- 1 tbsp oil or as needed
- 2 to 3 large onions (thinly sliced, 1½ cups )
- ¾ to 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 medium tomatoes (chopped, 1¼ to 1½ cups)
- ½ to ¾ tbsp red chili powder (adjust as desired)
- ¼ tsp turmeric or haldi
- Salt as needed
For chana masala gravy
- 2 tbsp oil or as needed
- 1 small bay leaf or tej patta
- 1 inch cinnamon or dalchini
- 2 to 3 cloves or laung (optional)
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms or elaichi (optional)
- ½ cup onions (fine chopped) (optional)
- 1 green chili slit
- 1 to 1½ tsp garam masala (I used punjabi garam masala)
- 1½ tsp coriander powder or daniya powder
- 1 tsp kasuri methi (or dried fenugreek leaves)
- 2 pinch amchur (or dried mango powder or 1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice) optional
- ¼ cup coriander leaves or cilantro chopped finely
How to make the recipe
Preparation for chana masala (skip if using canned)
- Wash chickpeas thoroughly and soak for 6 to 8 hours.
- Add them to a pot or pressure cooker. Pour 1½ cups water and add a pinch of soda-bi-carbonate (optional). You can also cook them in a pot adding more water as needed.
- Cook the chana until soft for 2 to 3 whistles without making them mushy. If you have not used soda then you will need to cook for long 6 to 7 whistles on a medium flame. When the pressure releases completely open the lid.
- Check for doneness : When you bite the chana it must be soft and should not feel a bite. Alternately squeeze the chana and check it must be soft enough but not mushy.
Frying & blending
- While the chana cooks, saute onions until golden in 1 tbsp oil. Saute ginger garlic paste as well to remove the raw smell.
- Add chopped tomatoes and some sprinkle little salt. Saute until the tomatoes turn soft and the raw smell goes away.
- Next add chili powder and turmeric. Saute till the raw smell goes off.
- Cool this completely and blend in a mixer to a smooth or coarse paste. optional – You can also add 1 tbsp cooked chana to the mixture and blend until smooth with out water. This makes the gravy thick and delicious.
How to make chana masala recipe
- Pour 2 tbsps oil and heat it. Saute cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and cardamom for 30 to 60 seconds.
- optional – Add chopped onions and chilli. Fry until golden.
- Next transfer the blended paste. Stir well. Add garam masala powder, coriander powder and saute until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
- Add the cooked chickpeas and then the stock (chana cooked water) as needed. You may need to use up all. If needed pour little more water to bring it to a consistency.
- Bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the desired consistency. Taste the gravy and add more garam masala and salt if needed. Cook further for another 2 to 3 mins.
- Add kasuri methi and amchur. Stir and switch off. Add chopped coriander leaves. Cover and set aside until served.
- Chana masala is ready to serve with rice, onion and lemon wedges.
- The recipe calls for 1 pinch of soda-bi-carbonate or cooking soda. This helps the chana to cook well easily.
- You can also skip it and cook the chana for more whistles. But sometimes chana does not get cooked well even after 10 whistles if they are too old.
- Do not use more soda-bi-carbonate than mentioned in the recipe as it leaves a aftertaste.
- For best results make the recipe from scratch and avoid canned chickpeas.
Preparation for chana masala recipe
1. Wash and soak chana for about 6 to 8 hours. Pressure cook chana with 1.5 cups water and a generous pinch of soda for 2 whistles. If cooking on a low flame, cook for 1 whistle. They can also be cooked in a pot. Chana must be soft cooked and you should not get a bite into it.
2. While the chana cooks, add 1 tbsp oil to a pan. When the oil heats up, add onions and fry until they turn golden.
3. Add ginger garlic paste.
4. Saute until the raw smell disappears.
5. Add tomatoes and salt. Fry until they turn completely mushy and soft.
6. Add turmeric and red chili powder.
7. Saute until the raw smell of chili powder goes away for a minute or two.
8. Cool it and blend to a smooth paste. Optional – you can also add 1 tbsp of cooked chana and blend to smooth. This yields a thick gravy. No water is used for blending.
How to make chana masala recipe
9. Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan. Saute 1 small bay leaf, 3 green cardamoms,3 cloves and a small cinnamon stick.
10. Add finely chopped onions nad green chili. Saute until lightly golden or transparent. You can also skip onions, it just adds volume to the gravy.
11. Add the blended puree.
12. Stir and mix well. We don’t need to cook for long since we roasted the onions and tomatoes before. Add garam masala and coriander powder.
13. Cook until the mixture begins to leave the pan.
14. Add the soft cooked chana and stock (chana cooked water). Make sure channa is soft cooked before adding here. Stir and add more water if needed to bring to a consistency.
15. Mix everything well and bring it to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until it reaches a desired consistency. Taste the gravy. Add more garam masala and salt if needed. Cook for 3 to 4 mins if you have added more garam masala. Just before turning off the stove add crushed kasuri methi and amchur (if using).
Stir well and Turn off the stove. Add few chopped coriander leaves. Cover the pot to retain the flavors.
Serve chana masala with rice or roti.