Recipe: Chana Masala (chickpeas)

My goal is 3 Indian dishes this month and first up is chana masala!

Chana Masala

We have a Roku box on the TV upstairs (which I call the cuckoo box, for whatever reason) and there are wonderful channels that you can watch. is one of them and there is a channel devoted to Indian food, so I have been binge watching it at bedtime. My recipe is based mostly on this one with subs that work for me and my kitchen.

A lot of recipes call for tamarind paste, so I went ahead and picked some up the last time I shopped on Amazon.  Tamarind is a very sour fruit and you can sub lemon juice for this, although it’s not quite as potent.


Did you know you can get a lot of gourmet foods and spices on Amazon?  Not to mention free shipping with Prime!  Anyway, I digress…


  • 1  can chickpeas (15 ounce), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (yes, both whole and ground seeds)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste (or the juice of half a lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 green chilies, minced

Good use for all those spices in your cupboard!  Anyway,  little prep makes this dish easy to make.  First, put all the dry spices and brown sugar in a small bowl:


Then put the ginger and garlic in another small bowl.  I keep some ginger in the freezer and then take it out and use a microplane grater.  I just use a veggie peeler to remove some of the peel and then grate:


This way your ginger won’t go bad and you will always have it on hand.

Then chop the other veggies and you are ready to cook.

In a pan, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat and add the onions.  Saute for 4 to 5 minutes until they get some caramelized color.  Please note that I puree my onions.  I like the flavor of onions, but hate the texture of the chunks, so I puree.  Totally not necessary for people who are not weird.


Then add the bowl of dried spices and cook for 1 minute.


It looks dry, but that is okay. You are really making a curry paste here.

Add the tomato paste, tamarind paste, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute.


Then carefully add the tomatoes.



Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 4 minutes.  Now add the chickpeas and diced green chilies.


John seeded the chilies for a little less heat.  I can take it, but he is not as fond of the heat as I am.

Stir this up, cover and simmer on medium-low for 7 minutes.

After 7 minutes, uncover and add 1/2 cup of water.


Looking good!  You can see where some rice spilled on the stove while making some of that on the side… and some tamarind paste.  Just keeping it real around here! 😳

Cover and simmer for another 7 minutes and you are ready to serve!



I just had mine straight up, but John had his over rice.


This has lots of flavor. It was savory with some slight sour and a hint of sweet. And not too hot.  I definitely would make this again.  It was pretty easy and came together in about half an hour, which is good for a first time recipe for me!

I’ll get the nutrition stats for this soon.  This makes about 3 good size servings, I would say.  At least normal portion servings as a main meal.  Ballpark guestimate right now is approximately 250-300 calories per serving.

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22 thoughts on “Recipe: Chana Masala (chickpeas)

  1. Erin

    That looks great and easier to make than I would have thought. My husband is just not an adventurous eater so nothing this fun ever gets made at our house. Last night I made chicken egg rolls (chicken, coleslaw mix and low sodium soy sauce) and that was about his threshold for adventure. :p

    1. Lori Post author

      My husband and I are both fairly adventurous with eating and we both love Indian food. Your husband kind of sounds like my dad – General Tsao’s chicken is about his threshold.

  2. Lisa

    This is terrible but….I want to make SO many Asian or Indian dishes but I take one look at super long ingredient lists and get overwhelmed and then don’t try it…
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Addict

    1. Lori Post author

      It’s not bad at all. Really, the best thing to do before you even start cooking is to just make a dish of all the spices that get added together. It’s way easier than reading *while* you are trying to cook and having to run and get all the spices as you go. As Alton Brown says, Mis en Place is your friend!

  3. Satu

    Mm this looks good and easy. Might be another favorite of mine, after cheesy crockpot chicken I’ve done many times already

    With a Pixie pic this post would have been PERFECT. 🙂

    P.S. You should see what my stove looks like when I cook! 🙂

  4. Fran

    Looks delicious. I like chickpeas, R. doesn’t that much. And I also love Indian food, it has so much flavour.

    If you want to do the photo a day challenge you can find the list here:

    You can jump in anytime, there are no rules. I don’t really follow her challenge, I just like it that the “assignment” for the day makes me look different at things because I look for something to photograph that day.
    Fran´s last blog post ..Tuesday August 6, 2013: Racing Day

  5. Ali @ Peaches and Football

    I’ve only had one experience with Indian food and it wasn’t great. It was a buffet and all the unusual spices and smells were so foreign to me that I wasn’t brave enough to try much at all. Ok, very little. Plus some of the Indian dishes just seemed like brightly colored mush. BUT I see so many people raving about Indian that I think I should give it another try sometime. 🙂 That recipe looks pretty easy!
    Ali @ Peaches and Football´s last blog post ..The Rain Arrived + Garden Update

    1. Lori Post author

      It’s funny because I would recommend a buffet to someone trying Indian food the first time LOL! My recommendation is to ease into it with something like chicken tikka or chicken tikka masala. And naan bread. Must have naan bread.

  6. Sandi

    My son is the adventurous cook in our house, he loves food network. I call Alton Brown “Uncle Alton” because our last name is Brown and it seemed like he was always on our tv 🙂
    Your recipe looks totally doable, and yummy- it’s on my list to try. Thanks!
    Sandi´s last blog post ..Shape wear flashback

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