Super Easy Chana Masala


Chana Masala recipe by

Nearly two years ago, Puja and I started kicking around the idea for an Indian food and culture blog. We tossed back and forth ideas but they stayed off the page for a while. Finally I just sat down, set up some skeleton of a website that I barely remember. To really get it started, as our first post I put together a recipe for Chana Masala. I chose Chana Masala because it’s easy, it’s delicious and it’s the dish I’m always the one in our house to make. Can you believe we didn’t even take pictures for the post?

I’ve finally set down to do the Chana Masala post right. You can think of Chana Masala as a chickpea stew. Around our house we usually call the dish “Chole” which is the Punjabi word for chickpea. It’s basically chickpeas stewed in tomato gravy with Indian spices. It is great as a side dish or as a main course. As a vegetarian dish it makes for a great source of protein. It scales so easily that it is great as a quick meal for two as Puja and I had it last night, or made in a large pot to serve many. It also makes great leftovers, so if you want you can make a big pot and keep whatever is left in the refrigerator or even freezer.

I often make it from dry beans in the pressure cooker but I wanted to keep this recipe really simple so I used canned beans. The taste is just as good but it’s a much easier way to make a small quantity of it.

I don’t normally measure anything when I make Chana Masala. It’s so easy to just saute some onions, garlic and chilies and then throw in everything else. But I know a lot of people want measurements so I went ahead and figured it out for those people. But honestly if you aren’t exact it’s really difficult to mess up.

Chana Masala recipe by

Chickpea Stew (Chana Masala)

Chana Masala recipe by

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 30 min
  • Total time: 45 min
  • Yields 4 servings


  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green chili (jalapeno or serrano)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cm ginger root, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp (to taste) Chana Masala spice mixture (you can substitute garam masala and juice from half a lemon)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, ghee or butter
  • 16 oz can of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed


  1. Vaghaar: Heat some oil in a pot on medium. I aim to use as little as possible, about a teaspoon. The oil is hot enough when you drop a cumin seed in it and the oil bubbles around the seed, causing the seed to move around. Put the cumin seeds on the palm of your hand, sift through with your other hand to make sure there are no rocks or stems mixed in. Then throw the seeds into the oil. Allow it to brown for a few seconds.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and chili to the vaghaar. Add salt.
  3. When the onions are translucent, throw in the tomatoes, ginger, garbanzo beans and chana masala. Simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid on to allow the garbanzo beans to absorb the flavor. The tomatoes will add a lot of moisture as they break down but you may need need to add up to a half cup of water, I usually add too much water then boil it off toward the end with the lid off.


  • Pressure Cooker / Dry Beans Method:

    1. Before soaking the garbanzo beans, you should sift through them to look for any pebbles or sticks to remove. You can soak the garbanzo beans overnight. Or there is a much quicker way. Heat the beans in the pressure cooker until the whistle blows, make sure to add plenty of water, as much of it will be absorbed by the beans. Once the whistle blows, turn off the heat, vent the steam and drain the water. Rinse the beans with water. Consider them soaked.
    2. Follow steps one and two from above, you can usually do this in the pressure cooker.
    3. Return the beans to the pressure cooker along with everything else. Add enough water to boil the mixture. Heat all of this to build up the pressure in the cooker. Cook at full pressure for 15 minutes.
    4. Turn the heat off and allow it too cool enough to remove the top. Do not vent or the beans will be undercooked.
      (To do this without a pressure cooker, just boil in a pot until the beans are soft. This can take as long as three hours.)
    5. Follow the above recipe for the rest.

    If you feel like it, you can add whatever vegetables you want, like carrots and spinach.

    Serve with plain yogurt and naan, pita or rice.

Nutrition Info
Serving Size 1/2 cup Sodium 716mg
Calories 179 Trans Fat 0g
Carbohydrates 24g Fat 5g
Protein 3g Cholesterol 0g

Comments on "Super Easy Chana Masala"

  1. April 6, 2014
    Hari Chandana:

    Looks super delicious and tempting!!

    1. April 8, 2014
      Puja Thomas-Patel:

      Thanks Hari Chandana!

  2. April 13, 2014
    Claudia ~ Food with a View:

    Looks delicious and sounds very tasty!

  3. July 7, 2015
    Steve Steiner:

    My pressure cooker specifically warns about cooking beans in it as they tend to foam and can plug the vent causing an explosion.

    1. February 27, 2019

      I have never had an issue with beans foaming and causing the vent to plug. If you are nervous about it, simply adding a little oil is all the prevention insurance you need (;

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