Easy Chana Masala Recipe

Creamy, packed FULL of flavour and perfect for the whole family, this chana masala recipe is super easy to make! Just like my one pot coconut chickpea curry, it’s also insanely cheap to make too. A ginormous winner all round! Read on for the step by step picture recipe, free printable recipe, tons of helpful tips and much more…

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin

Fun fact: You may or may not know that I actually ate a vegan diet for about a year or so not too long ago. One of the dishes that quickly became a firm household favourite during that time was chana masala. It continues to be one of my favourite curries, even though I don’t follow a strict vegan diet anymore. 

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

It’s just one of those dishes that has so many positives! My favourite two being that it’s super cheap and seriously delicious. Chana masala will definitely be a lifelong family favourite in the Kitchen Mason household that’s for sure!

3 bowls of chana masala curry and rice on a textured white background with forks and a light brown napkin

What’s so good about Chana Masala?

This is going to sound a little cliché but the list is virtually endless! There are so many positives…

  1. It’s good for you.
  2. Ideal for most diets – being naturally vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free.
  3. Chickpeas are a great source of protein for meat free diets.
  4. Super cheap to make!
  5. It’s really easy to make.
  6. Very comforting.
  7. Made in one pan.
  8. Intensely satisfying.
  9. Tastes amazing!

 

I could go on but you get the idea.

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

What is chana masala curry?

Chana masala is a very mild chickpea curry with a creamy, onion based sauce. The predominant flavours come from onion, coconut milk and coriander.

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

What does chana masala taste like?

The main flavour comes from the onion, fresh coriander and coconut milk in the sauce. It’s very mild and very creamy. A perfect change if you like mild curries and are bored of having a korma!

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

Does chana masala have dairy?

No, chana masala doesn’t typically contain dairy. It’s naturally dairy free and even suitable for vegans! (Make sure you check labels/ask restaurant staff to be certain.)

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin

Is chana masala usually vegan?

Yes it is! Using chickpeas instead of meat and coconut milk instead of dairy alternatives, chana masala is usually vegan. (Always check labels and/or ask staff at restaurants to be sure.)

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

What is the difference between chana masala and tikka masala?

Chana masala is a mild and creamy sauce made from coconut milk, onion and coriander. Tikka masala is a creamy tomato based sauce with lots of spices added to it. 

3 bowls of chana masala curry and rice on a textured white background with forks and a light brown napkin

Ingredients

Here’s everything you need to know about the ingredients required for this recipe…

  • Oil – I like to use vegetable oil but sunflower or rice bran would work well too.
  • Onion – A regular yellow onion is most commonly used in chana masala.
  • Garlic – I love garlic and always use very large cloves. If yours are small you may wish to increase the quantity.
  • Ginger – Only fresh ginger will do here! It’s readily available in most supermarkets now so easy to source.
  • Chilli – Fresh mild red chillis are my preferred choice but feel free to use hotter if you like a sweat inducing curry!
  • Garam Masala – There’s no corner cutting here. Garam masala is a specific blend of spices that works so well in this curry.
  • Turmeric – Found in virtually every supermarket, this gives the curry it’s colour and adds to the overall flavour.
  • Sugar – The type doesn’t really matter too much. Brown, white, granulated or fine – it just helps to bring out the flavours.
  • Tinned Tomatoes – Using good quality tinned tomatoes makes more of a difference than you would believe. Get the best you can afford.
  • Chickpeas – Tinned chickpeas are best, just make sure you rinse them well before adding to the curry.
  • Coconut Milk – Full fat coconut milk tastes best but you could use a lighter version if you wish.
  • Coriander – Fresh coriander all the way! It’s integral to the flavour of chana masala. Dried just won’t do.
  • Salt & Pepper – If you don’t season your food with salt and pepper it won’t taste as good as it could. It’s a no brainer.

 

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

How to make chana masala

All made in one pot, it’s not only delicious but very simple to make…

  1. Fry onion, garlic, ginger and chilli.
  2. Add spices and sugar, cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add tinned tomatoes and simmer until reduced.
  4. Add chickpeas, half the coconut milk and simmer until reduced.
  5. Add remaining coconut milk and simmer until your desired consistency.
  6. Check seasoning and stir through fresh coriander.
  7. Serve with rice and naan bread.

 

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin

Recipe tips

When things go wrong we get annoyed and it can put us off trying again. Let’s help you get it right first time with these helpful tips…

  • Read the recipe through before you start. Sounds so simple but it can help you avoid so many unnecessary mistakes!
  • Prepare all your ingredients before you start (i.e. chopping, rinsing etc.) so you’re not panicking during cooking.
  • Keep the seeds in the chilli if you like a hotter curry, remove them if you don’t.
  • Do not substitute fresh coriander for dried. Fresh coriander is too integral to the chana masala flavour!
  • Use the best tinned tomatoes you can afford, it will make a huge difference to the overall flavour.
  • Rinse the chickpeas really well. Vegans use chickpea juice (aquafaba) for it’s egg white like aeration properties. You don’t want that in a curry!
  • Remember to season with salt and pepper throughout cooking and taste taste taste!

 

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

Other recipes you might like

 

3 bowls of chana masala curry and rice on a textured white background with forks and a light brown napkin

 

Easy Chana Masala Recipe

Here is what you will need to serve 4

(For a printer friendly version, see the recipe card at the end of this post)

  • 2-3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, finely minced
  • Thumb Sized Piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Red Chilli, deseeded and finely chopped *
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Heaped tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) Tin of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 x 400ml (1 + 2/3 Cups) Tin of Coconut Milk
  • 30g (1/4 Cup) of Fresh Coriander, roughly chopped

 

*leave the seeds in if you like a little heat.

 

Essential Equipment

  • Large Frying/Sauté Pan
  • Wooden Spatula

 

Serving suggestion

Serve with freshly cooked rice and warmed naan bread.

 

First up, heat your frying/sauté pan over a low/medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the vegetable oil (2-3 tbsp) and swill it around the pan.

Then add the diced onion (x 1), minced garlic (2 x large cloves), finely chopped ginger (peeled thumb sized piece) and finely chopped chilli (1 x deseeded) into the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper and fry, stirring often, for a few minutes. It should be giving off a rather delightful aroma at this point!

Onion, garlic, ginger and chilli frying in a large saucepan

Next add in the garam masala (1 heaped tbsp), turmeric (1/2 tsp) and sugar (1 tsp) to the pan, giving it a good stir through. Allow to fry, stirring often, for a few minutes. If you need to, you can add a little more oil to the pan to prevent it from scorching.

Onion, garlic, ginger and chilli frying in a large saucepan with garam masala, turmeric and brown sugar

Now add in the tinned tomatoes (1 x 400g | 14oz tin) and season with salt and pepper. Give it a good stir through then simmer for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and it’s reduced to a thick consistency.

Chana masala curry base in a large saucepan with tinned tomatoes cooking on the stove

A reduced Chana masala curry base in a large saucepan cooking on the stove

Than add the drained/rinsed chickpeas (1 x 400g | 14oz tin) to the pan along with half the coconut milk (200ml | 3/4 Cup + 2 tbsp) and more salt and pepper. 

Chana masala curry base with coconut milk and chickpeas cooking in a large saucepan on a stove

Bring it all to the boil then reduce the heat slightly and allow to simmer for around 10 minutes.

Chana masala curry base with coconut milk and chickpeas cooking in a large saucepan on a stove

It should look like this…

Chana masala curry base with coconut milk and chickpeas cooking in a large saucepan on a stove

Now add the remaining half of the coconut milk (200ml | 3/4 Cup + 2 tbsp) and stir through. Check the seasoning, you may wish to add a little more salt and pepper. 

Chana masala simmering in a large frying pan on a stove

Simmer for a final 10 minutes or so, until the sauce is a consistency you like. Make sure you stir occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

Chana masala simmering in a large frying pan on a stove

Finally, stir through the chopped fresh coriander (30g | 1/4 Cup) and serve immediately alongside some basmati rice and warm naan bread. If you like, you can save a little of the coriander to sprinkle on top.

3 bowls of chana masala curry and rice on a textured white background with forks and a light brown napkin

Have you made this recipe?

Have you made this comforting chana masala curry? I’d love to know if you have! Send me your pics, comments and questions on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram or email me at emma@kitchenmason.com.

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin with torn naan bread at the side

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3 bowls of chana masala curry and rice on a textured white background with forks and a light brown napkin

 

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A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin

A bowl of chana masala curry and rice with a fork on a light brown napkin

Easy Chana Masala Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Creamy, packed FULL of flavour and perfect for the whole family, this chana masala recipe is super cheap and easy to make! 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, finely minced
  • Thumb Sized Piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Red Chilli, deseeded and finely chopped *
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Heaped tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) Tin of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 x 400ml (1 + 2/3 Cups) Tin of Coconut Milk
  • 30g (1/4 Cup) of Fresh Coriander, roughly chopped

Essential Equipment

  • Large Frying/Sauté Pan
  • Wooden Spatula

Instructions

  1. Place your pan over a low/medium heat. Once hot, add the oil followed by the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and some salt and pepper. Fry, stirring often, for a few minutes until it gives off a nice aroma.
  2. Add the garam masala, turmeric and sugar to the pan. Fry for a few minutes stirring often.
  3. Next, add the tinned tomatoes and some more salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and it's thickened.
  4. Then add the chickpeas, half the coconut milk and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining half of the coconut milk, check the seasoning (add more if needs be) then simmer for a further 10 mins until the sauce is your preferred consistency.
  6. Stir through the chopped coriander (you can save a little to sprinkle on top if you wish) and serve immediately with cooked rice and warm naan bread.

Notes

*leave the seeds in if you like a little heat

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 589Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 520mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 10gSugar: 10gProtein: 13g

Nutritional information on kitchenmason.com should only be used as a general guideline, I am not a certified nutritionist. Please always check labels for allergens where applicable.

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Hi, I’m Emma. Let me help you impress with delicious dishes using my easy recipes, step by step pics, tips & videos.