Now that fall is here all I want to do is eat soups, stews and roasted everything! This Chana Masala is a tomato-based chickpea stew that is full of warming spices and flavors. I love this recipe because it uses super simple, budget-friendly ingredients, and is a delicious, comforting plant-based dinner option that also freezes really well!
This recipe is very dear to me because I got it from one of my best friends mom who used to feed me A LOT of Indian food back in high school. I’ve never had anything quite as good since!
How do you make chana masala?
First you pulse the jalapeño, garlic, ginger and onion so that everything is very finely chopped. Then you toast the spices in shimmering oil, which blooms them and makes it super fragrant. Next you add the onion mixture to the pot and let them caramelize a bit. Then you add the pureed tomatoes and cook that for a bit so that it thickens. Finally, you add the chickpeas and remaining spices along with spinach (if using) and then stir in the cilantro. Easy peasy!!
What is chana masala curry?
It is an Indian curry made with ginger, garlic, green chiles, onion, tomatoes, a warming spice blend, and chickpeas. It’s very simple yet super satisfying!
You’ll need a few spices for the delicious spice blend, but if you don’t have them they are totally worth investing in. Here is what you’ll need: cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and paprika.
Is chana masala good for you?
Yes!! It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger. Since it’s a tomato-based stew, it’s high in vitamin C and carotenoids that are also great for reducing inflammation. The chickpeas add a healthy dose of fiber and protein. Add some spinach for an extra boost of calcium and iron!
3 cups cooked brown basmati or short grain rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
1 jalapeno, deseeded
4-5 cloves garlic
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (or diced, but you will have to puree them)
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cups packed spinach (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
In a food processor, pulse the jalapeño, garlic, and ginger until everything is finely chopped. Add the onion and pulse again a few times until finely chopped. This step really helps to finely chop and release the juices for maximum flavor.
In a large pot, add the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the spices and let them toast in the oil for about 1 minute, stirring often.
Add the onion mixture and salt and cook for 5 minutes to let the onions cook down and caramelize and spices continue to release their flavor (this is key for a deep, rich flavor).
Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 more minutes to thicken. Stir in the chickpeas, garam masala and paprika and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the spinach (if using) and cilantro and let the spinach wilt (if using). Remove from heat.
Serve on top of a bed of basmati or short grain brown rice. Enjoy!!
Tips and tricks for the perfect Chana Masala
Make sure not to skimp on the oil. It allows the spices and flavors to bloom and gives the stew a rich, satisfying mouth feel.
Don’t skip any steps! Caramelizing the onions, toasting the spices and simmering the tomatoes are all KEY to a delicious chana masala.
You could try hand chopping everything if you don’t have a food processor. I haven’t tried it this way but am sure it will still be delicious. However, pulsing them released the juices from the garlic, ginger, etc… and leads to a better smooth texture in the stew.
This will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week and freezes for several months!
I always have some little bags of cooked grains (brown rice, farro, barley…) in my freezer so meals like these come together super quickly! Simply microwave the grains until warm or let them sit in the fridge overnight to thaw.