Chana Masala Recipe
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 Chana Masala with plain rice, Jeera Rice, roti, Poori, chapati, Naan or Paratha. In this post I share the easiest recipe to make an Authentic Chana Masala with stovetop & Instant pot instructions. You will also find plenty of tips and tricks for a shortcut method using canned chickpeas.
This is one of the world’s most popular vegetarian curries & is a staple in Indian homes & restaurants.
About Chana Masala
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 Chana Masala is nothing but chickpeas simmered in a spicy onion tomato masala.
Though the dish originated in the 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.
Here are some of the popular recipes made with legumes
Easy Dal Tadka
Update: You can find the old recipe at the end of this post.
This recipe follows the traditional method of making chana masala with dried chickpeas. So we start with soaking the chana overnight and then cook them until tender. In a separate pan we make the masala, just like any other Indian curry where onions are sautéed and then cooked with tomatoes and spices.
Lastly the tender cooked chickpeas are simmered in the curry so they absorb all of the flavours. The finished dish is equally healthy and delicious with a burst of flavors.
For a quicker preparation you can opt for the canned chickpeas, so you don’t have to soak and cook them. But the texture of canned chickpeas is not the same always. You will find anywhere from slightly undercooked to mushy chickpeas. So for a perfect chana masala, ensure you use perfectly soft cooked but not mushy chana. More on this in the Faq section below.
In Indian homes, soaked chickpeas are pressure cooked to save some 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.
No time to soak or forgot to soak the chana?
No problem! You can give them an instant soak by pouring 6 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of chana. Cover and keep for an hour. Later pressure cook them as instructed in the recipe. But the texture & flavor of the chana is not the same. Soaked chana are lighter in texture and cook up well easily. They are easier to digest when soaked & prevents tummy upsets.
How to cook 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 add them. Cook until tender, discarding any froth that comes on top.
How to use canned chickpeas?
Due to the acidic ingredients in the gravy, chana 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 chana in between your thumb and index finger, it should mash easily.
If they are still hard, drain the liquid and rinse them well. Add them to a pot and cook them with 1 cup water until tender. This is an essential step for soft chana.
How to Make Chana Masala (Stepwise Photos)
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.
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 chana with 3 cups water in a heavy bottom pot. Please check the faq section for more details.
Test the texture
Test if the chana is soft cooked, tender and holds its shape (not mushy). When you squeeze a chana it should get mashed completely. If it is still firm, it is undercooked and you need to cook it longer.
Make Onion Tomato Masala
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 skip.
When they begin to sizzle add 1 ½ cups fine chopped onions and saute until golden. If you want you may add a slit green chili for heat but I do not use it.
Add 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute, making sure not to burn it.
Add 1 ½ cup tomatoes (or tomato puree) and ¾ teaspoon salt. Continue to cook until the tomatoes break down and turn mushy. You may cover and cook to quicken the process.
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
Saute on a medium flame until the masala smells aromatic. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
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 paste 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 paste. Optionally I also prefer to add 2 tablespoons of cooked chana to the blender. Later add the puree back to the same pan.
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.
Mix everything well and taste test. Add more salt if required.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the gravy turns thick.
Add ½ teaspoon amchur powder (optional) and 1 teaspoon kasuri methi. Crush it in your palms first and then sprinkle.
This is the right consistency – thick. Chana masala will thicken slightly further upon cooling.
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.
Serve Chana Masala with plain rice, Jeera rice, Naan, Roti or Paratha.
Whole Spices are optional and you may leave them out. But they infuse an extra layer of flavors.
Garam masala & other spices: Make sure you use a good aromatic Garam masala like this one. Every brand of spice powder is different. So adjust the quantities slightly according to your spice powder and your taste. Start with lesser garam masala if you are using a strong one. If required add more before you finish the dish.
Dried Chickpeas: It is very important to use fresh stock of the chickpeas. Old legumes do not cook up to a softer texture and may take forever to cook. However if you are skeptical about the age of your chana, add a pinch of baking soda while you cook them in the pressure cooker.
But let me warn you the stock will have an aftertaste of the baking soda so you may discard it and use fresh water for cooking the gravy.
Chana Masala Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup chana (dried raw chickpeas) (or 3 cups soaked or 2 – 15 oz cans)
- 1½ cups water (more to make gravy)
For Chana Masala Gravy
- 2 tablespoon oil or as needed
- 1 small bay leaf (optional)
- 1 inch cinnamon (optional)
- 2 cloves (optional)
- 2 green cardamoms (optional)
- 1½ cups onions (fine chopped, 2 large)
- 1 green chili slit or chopped (optional)
- ¾ to 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or ½ tbsp each fine chopped)
- 1½ cups tomatoes (fine chopped, 3 large or 1½ cups tomato puree)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (+ more to adjust to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ 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)
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 1 ½ cups 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 Chana 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 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 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 using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them before adding with 1 ¾ 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ginger and garlic to be used in equal quantities. You can also use only 1 tbsp ginger and skip garlic.
- If using bottled tomato puree, You may need more ground spices to balance the extra tart flavor.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Chana masala recipe originally published in May 2013, Republished in May 2019.
Chana Masala (old recipe)
¾ cup chana (dried raw chickpeas) (or 2¼ cups soaked or canned)
1½ cups water
To Saute & Puree
1 tablespoon oil or as needed
1½ cups onions (thinly sliced, 2 medium onions)
¾ to 1 tablespoon ginger garlic (chopped or paste)
1½ cups tomatoes (fine chopped or tomato puree, 3 large)
½ to ¾ tablespoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
For Chana Masala Gravy
2 tablespoon oil or as needed
⅓ cup onion (fine chopped, optional, 1 small onion)
1 small bay leaf (optional)
1 inch cinnamon (optional)
2 to 3 cloves (optional)
2 to 3 green cardamoms (optional)
1 green chili slit (optional)
1 to 1½ teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
1½ teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional)
2 pinch amchur (dried mango powder) optional
2 tbsp coriander leaves (cilantro chopped finely)
Rinse dried chickpeas thoroughly and soak for 8 hours in lots of water.
Drain the water and add them to a pot or pressure cooker & pour 1½ cups water.
Pressure cook the chana until soft for 5 to 6 whistles on a medium heat. If using instant pot, pressure cook them for 18 minutes on high pressure setting. or If cooking in a pot add more water as needed.
When the pressure releases completely open the lid.
Check for doneness : Squeeze the chana and check it must be soft enough yet firm and not mushy.
Saute & Puree
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Saute onions in oil until golden. Add ginger garlic & saute for 1 minute.
Next add chopped tomatoes and sprinkle little salt.
Saute until the tomatoes turn soft and the raw smell goes away.
Next add chili powder and turmeric. Cook till the raw smell of tomatoes and onions goes off.
Cool this completely and blend it to a smooth paste.
Optional – To make a thicker gravy add 1 tbsp cooked chana to the mixture and blend to smooth with out water.
How to Make Chana Masala
Heat 2 tbsps oil and saute cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and cardamom for 30 to 60 seconds.
Optional – Add the fine chopped onions & saute until they turn golden.
Next add the onion tomato paste, green chili, garam masala powder & coriander powder.
Saute until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan & turns fragrant.
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 to 6 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 (optional). Add chopped coriander leaves. Cover and set aside until served.
Chana masala is ready to serve with rice or roti, onion and lemon wedges.
The real flavor comes from the garam masala so use a good fragrant one. If using store bought use more if needed.
Ginger and garlic to be used in equal quantities. You can also use 1 tbsp ginger alone and skip garlic.
You can skip “1 medium onion” mentioned in the gravy. It is used to give a texture to the gravy. If you do not like very smooth gravy then using this extra onion provides some texture.
You can add 1 pinch of soda-bi-carbonate or cooking soda to cook the chana easily. If using soda then pressure cook just for 2 to 3 whistles.
Sometimes chana does not get cooked well even after 10 whistles if they are too old. So in that case you need to add soda.
Do not use more soda-bi-carbonate than 1 pinch as it leaves a aftertaste.
For best results make the recipe from scratch and avoid canned chickpeas.
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.
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I don’t like cinnamon or cloves, so I’m sure the fully spiced dish is far more robust. But the scaled back one I made is very delicious. Thank you for posting this recipe.
Glad to know Joseph. Yes you can always leave out the whole spices if you don’t like biting into them. A bit more garam masala works out the same way. Thanks for trying
Absolutely delicious! My kids enjoyed it with chappati.
So glad to know! Thank you so much!
This turned out delicious. I use canned chickpeas for convenience and an immersion blender to puree the onion tomato masala. Love this. Thank you
Happy to know Debi. Thank you
Brilliant recipe, I loved this dish but I do have a question/suggestion. Under the ‘Prepare Chana’ section, you say to soak the chana in water with no additions to the water, and doesn’t clarify whether you should store in the fridge or not. Then in the ‘FAQ’ section it says ‘soak them overnight with 1/3 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda’. I’m confused as to which version is the correct one?
I soaked the chickpeas for roughly 24hrs in plain water in the fridge, and then boiled the chickpeas as per the recipe. I noticed they were still a bit hard after 60 minutes so cooked them for a bit longer, but I couldn’t get them very mushy after 70+ minutes of boiling them. The dish was still delicious, but would be good to get clarification on the above points please, as I’d like to cook it again!
You will soak the chana and leave them on the kitchen counter & not in the refrigerator. Adding baking soda during soaking is an optional step which helps to cook them faster (about 45 to 60 mins). Without baking soda they take longer, another 30 mins. Also older chickpeas (in stock for years in the stores) take even longer to cook. Next time try a small batch with soda & see the difference. Hope that helps. Thanks for trying!
Amazing Recipe!!!! This recipes makes the best chana masala I have ever eaten. I used pureed tomatoes and did not blend the sauce to save time. Great flavors!! My husband says it tastes like the 5 star restaurant chana masala. Thank you & stay blessed!
I am absolutely delighted to know you both liked it. Thank you so much for trying the recipe and sharing back.
Oh my god! This chana masala is darn delicious! Made it for my guests and they asked me for leftovers. I also had to show them your website. Thank you Swasthi
That’s awesome Samatha. Thank you so much for sharing how it turned out for you.
Hello. I made this recipe and I remember it coming out very nice. My question is a bit different. I’m looking for a nice curry recipe for broad beans. I made a nice one previously with a recipe from another site, but am looking for something different. I’m thinking maybe trying this one with the broad beans in place of the chana. Do you think it will work? Or could you recommend another recipe?
This recipe goes well with dried broad beans. If using fresh beans, follow this Green moong dal recipe. We add a bit of coconut milk at the end for the fresh bean curry. Thank you so much for rating the recipe.
Wow. Amazing. I will try the moong dal recipe as the beans are currently ready to be harvested from the garden.
Thanks again and again.
Hi there! Excited to try this. Quick question you list onions, I grabbed a yellow onion but now I see in the pictures it looks like a red onion or shallot. Can you specify they type of onion you use please. Thanks so much.
Yes I use red onions. Yellow or sweet onion is also okay. Hope you enjoy the dish.
Hi, you mention a Chana stock half way through this recipe but I’m not sure what this is? “ Add the chana along with the chana stock (1¼ cups). ” what is the chana stock? I’m also unclear if I should still cook the chickpeas beforehand if they are tinned not dried
Add water if you are using tinned chickpeas. Before adding them to the gravy, make sure your chickpeas are soft and get mashed easily. I have more details in the faq section
is your recipe for chole masala is north indian or mumbai/south indian style? i enjoy the mumbai/south indian stlye that is tangy. please let me know.
This is a North Indian recipe. If you like very tangy chana masala, you can just increase the amchur in this recipe. But if you are looking for Punjabi chole that’s served with bhatura, use this Punjabi chole recipe.
This was delicious. I couldn’t get the green chili, kasuri methi, or amchur, but the spice level was perfect.
“Add ½ teaspoon amchur powder (optional) and 1 teaspoon kasuri methi. Crush it in your palms first and then sprinkle.”
Amchur is Mango Powder. Walmart has it.
Kasrui Methi is Fenugreek. Walmart also has that – ground, seed, and leaf.
Hope that helps.
Made this tonight just as the recipe stated and it was so creamy and delicious. This is definitely going into my regular recipes. Thank you for sharing this!
Loved the recipe, added a bit of sugar for the sweet twist. Easy to make
Thank you Nina. Glad you like it. Yes sugar balances the flavors.
Very easy and flavourful! Even better than what we get for takeout. Will definitely make it again.
That’s Awesome! Thank you so much Chris.
This is relatively easy for chana masala and very, very tasty.
Thank you so much Anna
So damn good!!
Thank you so much Navreen
Being vegan would be so easy if all veg could taste this good! I’ve never left a review for any recipe or anything (and I’m not new to the Internet), but this recipe has moved me to praise the creator of this masterpiece! I made it exactly as the recipe said- so glad I did! I served it with some homemade sourdough naan. That flavor is a real gift, and I am thankful! Tastes better when you eat it with your hands! 😉
Thank you so much! It means a lot to me! Happy to know you like it so much!
i added a whole can of tomato paste in addition to the tomatoes for more robust flavor
Hi… A blessed day… i am newly promoted Chief Cook on a running tanker vessel and i don’t have enough knowledge on Indian cuisine. your page is very helpful to me. my Indians officer was happy with the food I prepared which recipe I used is yours. thank you very much.
Thanks and you too have a good day. Congratulations on your new job! So happy to know the recipes are useful. Thanks for letting me know!
Is there a Way I can get the old recipe because as far I remember we add the spices just before putting the onion tomato puree into the oil. Correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks!
Yes you are right. Earlier the spices were put in just before the onion tomato puree. I moved that step prior to sautéing the onions now. By doing this we cut down a redundant step of heating oil & sautéing a few more onions. This also reduces a tbsp of oil in the recipe. Except that I haven’t changed the recipe in anyway but scaled it for 4 servings instead of 3. But in the end both recipes yield the same results. I have put back the old recipe at the end of this post. Hope this helps.
Delicious. The mix of spice is perfectly balanced. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers
Thanks Michelle. Glad you like it.