Chana Masala

Updated: June 18, 2024, By Swasthi

Make this Chana Masala for a delicious, flavorsome and healthy Indian meal. A protein-packed, vegan and gluten-free dish that you can easily customize to your taste. Serve this over plain fluffy Basmati Rice, Jeera Rice or with roti, Poori, chapati, Naan or Paratha. In this post I share the easiest recipe to make an Authentic Indian Chickpea Masala with stovetop & Instant pot instructions. You will also find plenty of tips and tricks for a shortcut method using canned chickpeas.

Chana masala is a North Indian curried dish made with white chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. ‘Chana’ is a Hindi word for ‘Chickpeas’ and ‘Masala’ here refers to a ‘spiced gravy’. So it’s nothing but chickpeas simmered in a spicy onion tomato masala. This is one of the world’s most popular vegetarian curries & is a staple in the Indian homes & restaurants.

Though the dish originated in Punjab region of India, it is made in numerous ways across the Indian sub-continent. So Chana masala is a common term that refers to a chickpea curry. You will find anywhere from extremely spicy to mild toned down versions. The recipe shared here will yield you something in between the both but you can easily up or cut down the spices further to suit your taste.

Chana Masala in a White Bowl

Recipe Comments



Often people confuse Chana Masala with Chole Masala but both are different. A special blend of spices and the preparation (boiling) of chickpeas is unique to the Punjabi chole, which makes it taste very different from a chickpea curry.

About Chana Masala Recipe

To make this recipe, you can either opt to use canned chickpeas or follow the traditional method, in which we soak the dried chickpeas overnight and cook until tender. It is a one pan-dish and takes only 30 to 35 mins, if you have canned or cooked chickpeas ready.

The recipe starts with making the masala/ curry. We saute the onions, ginger, garlic and cook with tomatoes and spices. Lastly chickpeas are simmered in this masala until tender and soak up the flavors. The finished dish is healthy, protein-packed and delicious with a burst of flavors.

I like to start my chana masala with dried chickpeas because that’s how we make the dish traditionally. Like most Indian homes, I pressure cook them to save time. If you do not have a pressure cooker and want to make the recipe with dried chickpeas, refer my Faq section to cook them in pot.

If you chose to go with canned chickpeas, make sure you use chickpeas that are perfectly tender, still hold shape and not mushy. Undercooked or mushy chickpeas are not good to make this dish.

Ingredients & Substitutes

  • Basic Ingredients: Use yellow or red onions (avoid large purple onions). Fresh tomatoes are best, if not use canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • Chickpeas: Use dried chickpeas or canned. It is essential to use fresh stock of dried chickpeas because old legumes that have been sitting in the shelves take longer to cook (may take forever). Avoid buying stocks that are labelled older than 12 months.
  • Garam masala and red chili powder: I use this homemade garam masala but you can use any aromatic store bought version. I use Kashmiri or Byadgi chili powder for low heat levels. You can also use a combination of paprika and cayenne.
  • Other ground spices like ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric help to cut down the acidity from tomatoes & tone down the strength of garam masala. Though they add a little flavor they work more to round-out the flavors.
  • Kasuri Methi: Dried fenugreek leaves also known as kasuri methi are classic, an herb not to miss in any North Indian dishes. There is no substitute for this. These leaves are super fragrant and impart an earthy, hay-like flavor, with very mild bitter tones. They are also used in many Indian dishes like dal, butter chicken and chicken tikka.
  • Amchur: Dried green mango powder is known as Amchur. It imparts slightly sweet, fruity & tangy flavors (that is different from tomatoes). There is no substitute for this ingredient but you can use lemon juice (not lime) at the time of serving.
  • Whole Spices: We love whole spices like Indian bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms for fresh and better flavors. Most store bought garam masala are oxidized and do not have great flavors. So using whole spices will compensate for the lost flavors.

Here are some of the popular recipes made with legumes
Red Lentil Curry
Aloo Chana Kurma
Chickpea Curry
Rajma Masala
Dal Makhani
Easy Dal Tadka
Dal Fry

Photo Guide

How to make Chana Masala (Stepwise Photos)

If you are using canned chickpeas (use 2- 15 oz cans that equals to 3 cups), jump to step 4.

Prepare the Chickpeas

1. Add 1 cup dried chickpeas to a large bowl and rinse them well a few times. Pour 3 ½ to 4 cups fresh water and soak them overnight or for at least 8 hours. Later drain the water & rinse them well.

soaked chickpeas ready to be cooked

2. Pressure cooker: Pour 1 ½ cups fresh water to the chana and pressure cook for 5 to 6 whistles on a medium heat. If using Instant pot, cook them for 18 minutes on a high pressure. Once the pressure drops naturally, open the lid.

Regular pot: Cook the soaked chickpeas with 3 cups water in a heavy bottom pot. Please check the faq section for more details.

pressure cooked chickpeas

3. Test the texture
Test if they are soft cooked, tender and hold shape (not mushy). When you squeeze a chickpea it should get mashed completely. If it is still firm, it is undercooked and you need to cook it longer.

perfectly cooked chickpeas

Make Onion Tomato Masala

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pot and add the whole spices (optional). You will need 1 bay leaf, 1 inch cinnamon, 2 cloves and 2 green cardamoms. If you do not have them simply omit.

whole spices to make chana masala

5. When they begin to sizzle add 1½ cups fine chopped onions (2 large/medium) and saute until golden, for about 8 to 9 mins. If you want you may add a slit green chili for heat but I do not use it.

6. Add 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute, making sure not to burn it.

saute ginger garlic paste

7. Add 1½ cup chopped tomatoes (or tomato puree or whole peeled tomatoes) and ¾ teaspoon salt. Continue to cook until the tomatoes break down and turn mushy, for 6 to 7 mins. You may cover and cook to quicken the process.

onion tomato masala

8. Next add all the ground spices

  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons Kashmiri Red chilli powder (I use 1½)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
ground spices in the Dutch oven

9. Saute on a medium flame until the masala smells aromatic. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes.

remove the bay leaf

10. This step is optional and you may skip if you want your gravy to be chunky. You have the option to skip this step or blend the onion tomato masala to a coarse or smooth puree depending on how you want your chana masala gravy.

If you prefer to blend it, discard the bay leaf and cinnamon first. Cool the mixture and blend to a puree. Optionally I also prefer to add 2 tablespoons of cooked chana to the blender. Later add the puree back to the same pan.

onion tomato masala paste in a Dutch oven

Make the Chickpea Masala

11. Add the chana along with the stock in which you cooked it. You will be left with 1¼ cup stock which you will add it. Pour more water as needed to make a gravy. I use about ¾ to 1 cup more water. If you don’t puree the onion tomato masala you will require lesser.

Canned chickpeas: Drain the liquid in the can, rinse the chana well with fresh water and use here. Pour 2 cups water.

adding cooked chana to onion tomato masala

12. Mix everything well and taste test. Add more salt if required.

mixing the chickpea with masala

13. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the gravy turns thick.

simmering chana masala in onion tomato gravy

14. Add ½ teaspoon amchur powder (optional) and 1 teaspoon kasuri methi. Crush it in your palms first and then sprinkle.

kasuri methi and amchur powder on chana masala

15. This is the right consistency – thick. Chana masala will thicken slightly further upon cooling.

consistency of the dish

16. At this stage I always feel the need to add more salt as the chickpeas absorb some amount of it from the gravy. So taste test add more salt and squeeze some lemon juice if you have not used amchur.

Chana masala ready to be served, garnished with coriander leaves

Serve Chana Masala with fluffy Basmati Rice, one pot Jeera rice, No yeast fast Naan, Roti, Chapati or Paratha. This Cucumber Raita, Pepper Mushrooms and Beans Poriyal make some great sides.

Chana Masala Recipe

Expert Tips

If you are using old chickpeas that have been sitting in the shelves for long. Add a pinch of baking soda while you cook the chickpeas. This helps to cook them faster. Discard half of the stock and use only the rest while you cook the dish. Using all of the stock can leave an aftertaste.

Faqs

How to cook dried chickpea without soaking?

Give them an instant soak by pouring 6 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of chickpeas. Cover and keep for an hour. Later pressure cook them as instructed in the recipe. But the texture & flavor of the chickpeas is not the same. Soaked legumes are lighter in texture and cook up well easily. They are easier to digest when soaked & prevents tummy upsets.

How to cook dried chickpeas in a pot?

Cooking chickpeas in a pot takes about 45 to 60 minutes. Soak the dried chickpeas overnight with 1/3 teaspoon baking soda. The next morning drain the water and rinse them well. Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil and a cook until tender, discarding any froth that comes on top.

How to use canned chickpeas to make chana masala?

Due to the acidic ingredients in the sauce/gravy, chickpeas won’t cook further after adding it to the masala. So make sure your canned chickpeas are soft and tender enough yet hold shape. Test by squeezing a chickpea in between your thumb and index finger, it should mash easily. Drain the liquid and rinse them well. If they are still hard, add them to a pot and cook them with 1 cup water until tender. This is an essential step for soft chana.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

chana masala recipe

Chana Masala Recipe

4.98 from 630 votes
This restaurant Chana masala is a popular Indian dish of chickpeas cooked in an onion tomato gravy. It goes great as a side with rice, paratha or roti.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup chana (dried raw chickpeas) (or 3 cups soaked or 2 – 15 oz cans)
  • cups water (to pressure cook, + more to make gravy)

For the Masala

  • 2 tablespoon oil or as needed
  • 1 small bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 inch cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cloves (optional)
  • 2 green cardamoms (optional)
  • cups onions (fine chopped, 2 large)
  • 1 green chili slit (optional)
  • ¾ to 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or ½ tbsp each fine chopped)
  • cups tomatoes (fine chopped, 3 large or 1½ cups tomato puree or whole peeled tomatoes)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (+ more to adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder) (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves (cilantro chopped finely)


Instructions

Prepare Chickpeas (Skip this section to use canned chickpeas)

  • Rinse dried chickpeas at least thrice. Soak them in 3 ½ to 4 cups of water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  • Drain the water and rinse them well. Pour water and pressure cook for 5 to 6 whistles on a stovetop cooker. You may also cook in an instant pot for 18 minutes on a high pressure. Let the pressure drop naturally.
  • Make sure your chickpeas are soft and tender. Squeeze a chickpea to test, it should get mashed fully. If not cook them for a little longer.

How to make Chickpea Masala

  • Heat a large pot and pour oil. When the oil turns slightly hot, add the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and bay leaf.
  • When they begin to sizzle add the onions and green chili. Saute until they turn light golden.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute without burning.
  • Add tomatoes and salt. Let cook until mushy, pulpy and thick.
  • Stir in red chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder and cumin powder. Saute until the masala begins to smell good, for about 3 to 4 mins.
  • Optional – If you want a smooth curry, cool this, discard the bay leaf, green chili and cinnamon. Blend in a blender to a smooth or coarse paste to suit your liking. I prefer to blend in 2 tbsps cooked chana along with the onion tomato masala. Add that puree back to the pan.
  • Add the chana along with the chana stock or water (1¼ cups). Pour another ¾ to 1 cup water. If you don't puree the onion tomato masala, you will require lesser water. If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them before adding with 1¾ cups water.
  • Mix well. Taste test and add more salt. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • When the consistency is thick (check pics), add amchur powder (optional) and kasuri methi.
  • Garnish Chana masala with coriander leaves. Sprinkle some lemon juice if required. Serve with Basmati Rice, Jeera Rice, Naan or Chapati.

Instant Pot Chana Masala

  • To make the recipe in Instant pot, make the onion tomato masala on saute mode. Optionally If you want you may cool and blend this. Add the soaked chickpeas with 2 cups water. Deglaze and Pressure cook on high for 35 minutes. When the pressure drops, open the lid. Cook on a saute mode for a few minutes until thick. Add kasuri methi and amchur.


Notes

  1. This recipe has been updated recently to make it simpler. If you prefer a chunky gravy do not blend the onion tomato masala. For a little texture, make a coarse paste & for a smoother curry blend it to a smooth paste.
  2. Use a good fragrant garam masala to make a flavorsome curry. Adjust the quantity of ground spices to suit your taste. If your garam masala is too strong, you may cut down by 1/4 teaspoon. 
  3. Whole spices can be skipped but they add an extra layer of flavors. If you wish to blend the onion tomato masala, discard bay leaf and cinnamon. 
  4. Ginger and garlic to be used in equal quantities. You can also use only 1 tbsp ginger  and skip garlic.
  5. If using bottled tomato puree, You may need more ground spices to balance the extra tart flavor.

Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Chana Masala Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 193 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Sodium 519mg23%
Potassium 511mg15%
Carbohydrates 24g8%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1131IU23%
Vitamin C 25mg30%
Calcium 70mg7%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Recipe Rating




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5 stars
This is my favourite curry to have with roti and basmati rice, thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe

5 stars
Thanks for this fabulous recipe, absolutely delicious

5 stars
a total weeknight staple. we love it!

5 stars
I’m six months in to becoming a vegetarian and a month into vegan. My Indian friend at work showed me your website, recommending me to try your vegetarian recipes. I am yet to find one that didn’t turn out good. This chana masala tastes amazing and such an easy dish to make! I have also made your chana korma and it was awesome! My carnivore husband says he can eat vegan and vegetarian daily if they are this delicious. Thank you for posting such great recipes.

5 stars
I actually think this is the best recipe I have tried !!!

5 stars
I have to remember to look for your recipes first (they’re so good!). I am getting ready to try this one; thanks! For me, a U.S.er, I need to know that by “bay leaf,” you mean TEJ PATTA and not bay laurel, as we don’t have tej patta in our cuisine. You can tell the difference by looking at the veins in the leaf. Tej patta has three long veins running down the length of the leaf while bay laurel has one main vein down the middle with little ones branching off of that. They taste completely different from each other! Thanks.

5 stars
I think even restaurants don’t serve this high quality chana masala. You make things so simple and amazing. I made this for a family dinner and got so many compliments. Next is your chole bhatura for holi. Thank you so much dear Swasthi.

5 stars
I have made Chana masala from your recipe so many times. Your recipes have upped my game in making Indian food! Absolutely love your recipes!

5 stars
Your website has inspired me to transition from canned to real foods. We love how you make everything from scratch. I started off this recipe by soaking dry chickpeas with a little baking soda and cooked them for 50 mins on the stove. Used broth to cook down the masala since I had to use up that. I threw in some baby kale at the end. It was fantastic, refrigerated the leftovers for another meal. Looking forward to try your red lentil curry. Thank you for the fantastic recipes.

5 stars
Can i add butter in the end

5 stars
Hi Swasthi! First of all I wanted to say that I love your recipes. Telugu and Chettinad restaurants are commonplace here in Silicon Valley, and many of your southern recipes have become favorites of mine.
I had a quick question regarding store bought spices. I have maybe 2 or 3 different chana masala mixes in my pantry. Since your recipe uses garam masala and other added spices I’ve never been sure how to substitute the recipe with a dedicated chana masala mix. Any suggestions?

Hi, Love this recipe & in fact, all of yours.

Could I please ask which pan do you use for sauteing? Any specific brand/type/size? I am struggling to find a good one. Thanks.

5 stars
An absolute cracker of a Chana Masala. Normally, when I prepare any form of curry, I add red dhal to it, because of the texture and the effect they have on thickening the sauce.

This one, however, is a game-changer for me. I served it with Jeera rice, and home made Puri. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe! I will be making this again…

5 stars
Thank you so much for your help and recipe’s!!! For my Christmas dinner for 20 people I used three of you recipes: Chicken Tikka Masala for 12; Chana Masala for 12, and Paneer Butter Masala for 12. I followed your recipes exactly, and used your suggestions for canned tomoatoes rather than fresh. Fresh tomatoes in Upstate NY are just not very good this time of year. Everything was a hit….everyone lived it. I also served Butter Shrimp, but it wasn’t your recipe and used 4# of shrimp. Served it with basmati cooked with ghee, cardamoms, and cinnamon sticks. Made samosa’s and froze them ahead of time, and fried them as an appetiser. I wimped out on the naan and bought garlic naan and onion kulcha from a local Indian restaurant which we picked up before dinner. Spectular meal. Thank you!

Can Chana Masala be made a couple of days in advance? An if you can, should you wait to add the chick peas day of event, or is it better to add them when you first make the dish?

You are the best….thank you so much for you quick responses!

5 stars
I’m doing an Indian dinner for 20 Christmas Day and one of the dishes I’m planning is Chana Masala. I was thinking of doing either the Serving for 12 or 16. There will be other main dishes as well. However the recipe does not change the amount of chick peas used for 4, 12 or 14 people. How do you suggest this be adjusted.

5 stars
Made this for the first time last week. Loved it! Straight forward and fun to prepare. I’m going to make this for my sister when I’m back in the states for Christmas. My husband and brother in law are going to have to deal with their dislike of chickpeas. How can someone not like chickpeas!?

just tell them they’re garbanzo beans instead

HA!!! I’m making it again for me and my partner tonight. We’re back in London, jet lagged AND with covid. This recipe is perfect for throats and noses. I’ve only made it three times so I still need to refer to it. Again, gracias!

5 stars
Thank you!!

5 stars
This recipe, like all of your recipes, is incredible!! It is a staple in our home. I’m wondering if I can make a large batch and freeze it? Thank you.

5 stars
I used all of the “optional” spices because I had them. I had not made chana masala in a long time, but I am definitely going to re-stock the chickpeas and do it again.

5 stars
This is the most perfect recipe that I’ve ever seen. You’ve saved the life of 2 young students on the verge of dying from hunger.

5 stars
So delicious and tastes the closest to the ones I’ve had from South Asian restaurants. Chickpeas were so tender and sauce so delicious. Used a can of fire roasted tomatoes and did not blend the onion tomato masala. Still it tastes great! Omitted whole spices and made your garam masala as well. My home smells heaven!!