Chana Masala (Easy Indian Chickpea Curry)

If you are looking for a hearty and comforting Sunday Lunch Menu then you have got to try this Indian Chickpeas Curry Recipe called Chana Masala. A North Indian Gravy with chickpeas and basic Indian Spices, this is a gluten free and vegan Main course recipe best served with steamed Basmati Rice or Indian Breads.

Chana Masala (Easy Indian Chickpea Curry)

Today’s recipe is a popular North Indian Gravy Sabzi called Chana Masala. Chana refers to Chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans or Kabuli Chana. A delicious curry recipe made with basic Indian Spices and served with Indian Breads or Steamed Basmati Rice.

This Chickpeas curry makes a hearty Sunday Lunch. Best part about serving Chana Masala is that it doesn’t need any side dish. Just opt for a quick pressure cooker Jeera Rice, serve some salad on the side along with this showstopper gravy.

Made with basic onion tomato gravy and some Indian spices, this is a filling and wholesome meal for the family. This Indian Chickpea Curry is a hit favourite with the two special people in my life – my husband and my mother (late).

The Chana Masala shouldn’t be mistaken with Punjabi Chole. There are some common elements like onion-tomato gravy and the boiled chickpeas though.

Chole is rather slow cooked, darker in colour and heavy on spices. It is quite tangy too, unlike Chana Masala due to the addition of Aamchur powder (Dry Mango Powder), Anardana powder (pomegranate seeds) and /or Amla (Indian Gooseberry).

For Chole, the chickpeas are even pressure cooked with a tea bag or Amla that stains them brown.

My version of the Chana Masala is a simple home style preparation. Your everyday chickpea curry with basic ingredients from pantry. This is what our family prefers for Sunday lunch.

Chana Masala Served with Jeera Rice

Soaking and Cooking the Chickpeas

The first step for Chana Masala is a little overnight prep work that you have to follow.

  • For Chana Masala, Soaking the chickpeas overnight or for atleast 8 hours is recommended (1st Image left)
  • The longer you soak, the faster it cooks in the pressure cooker.
  • I wouldn’t recommend cooking the chickpeas on stove top, unless you have a lot of time on hand.
  • It could take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour to cook the soaked beans on a stove top. Pressure cooker takes just 15 minutes.
  • The chickpeas should be soft and mushy when pressed between your thumb and index finger. This will enable the chickpeas to soak up the gravy.
Soaked and drained chickpeas
Cooked Chickpeas
Perfectly cooked chickpeas

Once the chickpeas have cooked, rest of the ingredients are very easy to gather and prep.

My Mother was a big fan of Chana Masala and Bhindi Masala, the only two North Indian Gravy Recipes that she ate at a restaurant (without garlic) along with poori or naan.

After I got married, I found a Chana Masala fan in my husband so life has come a full circle with me cooking this for him now on Sundays, sharing stories about my mother.

Coming back to the recipe, Chickpeas is quite a versatile ingredient, available in most pantries. A good source of plant based protein, these legumes can be versatile and used in many recipes.

Some Chickpeas recipes on the blog –

However, many complain that consumption of chickpeas tends to cause wind or increased flatulence and bloating. Here are some tips that might help.

  • Discard the water that is used to soak the beans. It leads to poor digestion and increased flatulence or gas. PS – I use the soaked water for watering my plants. No wastage!
  • Less Soaking time – Most of us are in a hurry and tend to soak less or pressure cook more (cheat’s way). Legumes, by nature, require ample time to soak and absorb water.
  • Hence it is always recommended to soak and not consume dry beans directly.
  • Chickpeas is quite filling and makes a hearty lunch. It also tends to take longer to digest.
  • I recommend consuming chickpeas curry, like this one, during the first half of the day, when the body is most active.
Chana Masala Recipe - Indian Chickpea Curry

This recipe uses Dried Chickpeas that are soaked and cooked.

If you do not have access to dried chickpeas and prefer using ready to eat canned chickpeas, here are some of the tips you can follow.

  • Open the can of chickpeas, Drain the water.
  • Rinse well with water couple of times and then cook them (with water) for atleast 10 odd minutes until they are soft.
  • The canned chickpeas is now ready to use for cooking the curry.

Note – Even though canned chickpeas are already cooked, cooking them for an extra 10 minutes would lead to softer chickpeas that can absorb the gravy flavours, especially for Indian gravy recipes. You can skip this step, if you like.

Bonus – No Soaking Time or Pressure Cooking. Can cook the Chana Masala on a whim!

Chana Masala Recipe Step by Step

Pressure cook 2 cups of over night Soaked Chickpeas with 4 cups of water. Add salt while pressure cooking so the chickpeas don’t taste bland. After pressure cooking, drain the water and keep aside. The water is used to adjust the gravy consistency. Do not throw this water.

Boiled Chickpeas
Boiled Chickpea Water

Prep the ingredients while the chickpeas are pressure cooking. Finely chop the onions, Puree the tomatoes and mince ginger paste, garlic cloves and green chillies in the mixer grinder and set aside.

Onion and tomatoes
Garlic Ginger and Green chillies for the gravy
Minced garlic ginger and green chillies
tomato Puree

Heat a pan or thick bottom kadhai, add oil and whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon sticks).

Now add the minced ginger-garlic-green chillies paste and saute well until there is no raw smell.

Whole spices
Cooking the ginger garlic paste
Whole spices and garlic ginger chilli mix

Now add the chopped onions and cook them on low heat until they are brown in colour.

Add the tomato puree and the spices (coriander powder, turmeric powder, jeera powder, red chilli powder and garam masala)

Cook this mixture (bhuno) well until there is no raw smell of the tomatoes or the spices. It should be dry and leave some oil on the sides.

Chopped Onions
Browning the onions
Cooking the onion tomato mix
Adding spices for Chana Masala
Onion tomato Gravy Mix ready for Chana Masala

Once the gravy base has cooked well. Add the cooked chickpeas.

With the back of your spoon, mash some chickpeas lightly (this makes the gravy thicker)

Once the masala has coated the chickpeas, add the reserved chickpeas water along with some salt to taste. Adjust consistency by adding some more water and let the chana masala simmer for atleast 15 minutes on low heat (covered with lid)

This helps the masala to penetrate the chickpeas and a thick luscious gravy forms. Once you notice the gravy thicken, switch off, add some coriander leaves and serve hot.

Adding chickpeas to the onion tomato gravy mix
Mashing some chickpeas to thicken the gravy
Mashing the chickpeas to thicken the gravy
Dry Chana Masala
Chana Masala is ready to serve

Pro Tip – Mashing some of the cooked chickpeas leads to thick gravy. This is something my mother used to follow partially because she couldn’t bite hard beans due to her dental issues. This really works and I follow this till today. If you haven’t tried this, please do so!

Recipe Notes

  • Please note that I have measured the chickpeas quantity only after soaking them.
  • No Baking Soda is added to soften the chickpeas while cooking, which is usually a practice in restaurants to even elevate the taste.
  • I have used basic spices available at home to make this recipe.
  • Garam Masala powder can be replaced with Chole Masala too.
  • You can add chopped tomatoes instead of puree. We prefer puree as it leads to a good gravy texture.
  • Kashmiri Red chilli powder is used for the recipe.
Delicious bowl of Chana Masala served with Jeera Rice

Additional Notes / FAQ’s

Can we bulk cook?

Yes. Leftover Chana Masala tastes amazing. You can freeze this and reheat when required. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for atleast 5-6 days and more in case of freezer.

Main Course options with Chana Masala gravy?

  • Indian Breads – Roti, Paratha, Naan Bread.
  • Rice – Jeera Rice, Steamed Rice, Pulao
  • Sliced Breads, Pav buns or Dinner Rolls.

How to use Leftovers?

  • Grind the Chana Masala in a mixer grinder and add it to a bowl. Add wheat flour as required, salt to taste some coriander leaves or spring onions and knead into a dough. Roll out chapatis or thick paratha and serve with plain curd. You can pack these for kids tiffin box as well.
  • Chana Masala Sliders – Saute the gravy in a pan with some butter until the gravy dries out a bit. Slit open burger buns and fill this mixture, add chopped onions, some cilantro and serve warm.
  • Chana Masala Rice – Mix some steamed rice with the leftover gravy, saute it with some onions etc and serve with a side of raita.
  • Sandwich – Make Grilled Sandwiches by applying a layer of home made green chutney on bread slices followed by a spoonful of chana masala gravy. Grill the sandwiches with some butter or oil and serve hot.

Gravy tasting too sour or accidentally added too many tomatoes to the recipe?

Once you taste test the gravy and find that it is too sour, add a pinch of sugar or jaggery. Mix and taste check again. Add more if required but always start with a pinch.

How to reduce Spice from the gravy?

  • If you have ready chapati dough balls, add couple of them and allow the dough ball to soak the spice. Remove it before serving.
  • Else, you can add some sugar or jaggery to the gravy and reduce the spice levels.
  • I recommended using Kashmiri Red chilli powder for this recipe. It is not spicy and also lends a good colour.

Variations to Chana Masala

  • You can add Paneer (saute it on the tawa or pan before adding)
  • Add Boiled potatoes to this recipe. Potatoes would naturally thicken the chana masala gravy.
North Indian Chana Masala Recipe

Chana Masala (Easy Indian Chickpea Curry)

Vidya Narayan
Chana Masala is a popular Indian Chickpea Curry Recipe. Easy North Indian Main Course Vegan and Gluten Free Gravy recipe made with a basic onion tomato gravy and select Indian spices. Tastes best with Basmati Rice and Indian breads.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, north indian
Servings 3 people

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups Soaked Chickpeas 1 cup is 250 ml measurement (Read Notes below)
  • 2 cups Water for Pressure Cooking Chickpeas + Extra as required to adjust gravy consistency
  • Salt to taste
  • FOR THE GRAVY
  • 2 nos. Green chillies
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Paste
  • 6-7 nos Garlic Cloves
  • 3 nos. Onions finely chopped
  • 3 nos. Tomatoes (pureed)
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 2 nos. Bay Leaf
  • Cinnamon Stick (1/4th inch x 2 nos)
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder or Haldi Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder or Dhania powder
  • 1 tsp Jeera Powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Red chilli powder
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves as garnish

Instructions
 

  • Pressure cook 2 cups of over night SoakedChickpeas with 4 cups of water. Add salt while pressure cooking so thechickpeas don't taste bland. After pressure cooking, drain the water and keepaside. This will be used to adjust the gravy consistency. Do not throw thiswater.
    Perfectly cooked chickpeas
  • Prep the ingredients while the chickpeas arepressure cooking. Finely chop the onions, Puree the tomatoes and mince gingerpaste, garlic cloves and green chillies in the mixer grinder and set aside.
    Onion and tomatoes
  • Heat a pan or thick bottom kadhai, add oil and whole spices (bay leaf,cinnamon sticks).
    Cooking the ginger garlic paste
  • Now add the minced ginger-garlic-green chillies paste and saute welluntil there is no raw smell.
    Now add the chopped onions and cook them on low heat until they arebrown in colour.
    Cooking the onion tomato mix
  • Add the tomato puree and the spices (coriander powder, turmeric powder,jeera powder, red chilli powder and garam masala)
    Adding spices for Chana Masala
  • Cookthis mixture (bhuno) well until there is no raw smell of the tomatoes or thespices. It should be dry and leave some oil on the sides
  • Once the gravy base has cooked well. Add the cooked chickpeas.
    Adding chickpeas to the onion tomato gravy mix
  • With the back of your spoon, mash some chickpeas lightly (this makes thegravy thicker)
    Mashing the chickpeas to thicken the gravy
  • Once the masala has coated the chickpeas, add the reserved chickpeaswater along with some salt to taste. Adjust water consistency by adding somemore water and let the chana masala simmer for atleast 15 minutes on low heat(covered with lid)
    Dry Chana Masala
  • This helps the masala to penetrate the chickpeas and a thick lusciousgravy forms. Once you notice the gravy thicken, switch off, add some corianderleaves and serve hot.
    Chana Masala is ready to serve

Notes

 
  • Please note that I have measured the chickpeas quantity only after soaking them.
  • No Baking Soda is added to soften the chickpeas while cooking, which is usually a practice in restaurants to even elevate the taste.
  • I have used basic spices available at home to make this recipe.
  • Garam Masala powder can be replaced with Chole Masala too.
  • You can add chopped tomatoes instead of puree. We prefer puree as it leads to a good gravy texture.
  • Kashmiri Red chilli powder is used for the recipe.
Keyword Chana Masala Gravy, Chana Masala recipe, Channa gravy for rice, Indian Chickpea Curry
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Vidya Narayan

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Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

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