Chana Masala is an easy flavorful one pot vegetarian Indian recipe. Hearty delicious chickpea curry is a go-to meat-free dish.
CHANA MASALA (CHICKPEA CURRY)
Making Indian food at home can be a little intimidating, especially from the first glance of the ingredient list. Don’t let the generous amount of spices in Chickpea Curry discourage you, it is actually super easy (and budget friendly) to make! Most, if not all, the spices you need to make Indian Chickpea Curry are ones you keep on hand and the rest of the ingredients are common pantry items.
Learning the Indian name for basic ingredients is a great way to make cooking Indian dishes easy! Chana means chickpea, Curry is a gravy or sauce, and most Curries are made with a Masala spice blend. So Chana Masala is just Chickpeas in Gravy with Spices. Indian recipes may seem complicated but in reality they are simple Indian comfort food, no more difficult than Pot Roast or Vegetable Soup.
Indian Chickpea Curry is a vegetarian dish full of classic Indian spices that is mild enough for everyone to enjoy! There is a slight heat from the cayenne pepper, but you can always leave it out. Chickpea Curry is a great recipe to layer flavors, adding more Indian spices, veggies, or even meat depending on your taste.
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Bloom your spices!
The key to getting the most flavor in an Indian curry is to toast the spices in fat. This Indian Chickpea recipe uses butter, but if you have some on hand, use the more traditional ghee, or clarified butter. For a vegan Chickpea Curry, use coconut oil or a non-dairy butter substitute.
Make it a Meal
Indian Chickpea Curry is delicious on it’s own served over White Rice or Brown Rice, with veggies like Roasted Broccoli on the side. You can also serve this Chickpea Curry as a side dish to your favorite Indian dishes like Lamb Curry. No curry is complete with out a drizzle of Indian Raita and a side naan for dipping!
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VARIATIONS ON INDIAN CHICKPEA CURRY
- Spices: Other spices you can use are garam masala, curry powder, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, mustard seeds, or saffron. For heat, add dried or fresh chilis, chili powder, or red pepper flakes. Curry pastes like red curry or green curry paste add their own flavors and heat too.
- Coconut Milk: Make a creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry by adding a ½ cup full fat coconut milk during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. You could also add yogurt, just make sure to temper it or leave at room temperature before adding so it doesn’t curdle.
- Spinach: Make this Chana Saag Masala by adding in a couple cups of fresh baby spinach, Saag, halfway through cooking.
- Potatoes: For Chana Aloo Masala, aka Chickpea and Potato Curry, add 2 cups diced potatoes in the beginning and cook until the potatoes are tender. You can also use diced sweet potatoes or cauliflower (Gobi).
- Lentils: Boil ½ cup dry lentils in 1 cup water, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Add lentils with the chickpeas to make a heartier vegetarian Chickpea Curry.
- Meat: Brown lamb, chicken, or beef, cut into 1 inch cubes, in the pot and remove before sautéing onions and spices. Add the meat back to the dutch oven and add about 15-20 minutes to the overall cooking time.
Slow Cooker Indian Chickpea Curry
- Sauté the onions with butter in a large skillet for 5 minutes.
- Stir in all the spices and garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer the spice onion mixture to the slow cooker.
- Deglaze the skillet with ½ cup broth to get all the remaining spices and pour into slow cooker.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to slow cooker, except cilantro, and stir.
- Cook, covered, on low for 4-5 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high.
- Stir in cilantro and serve over rice.
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HOW TO STORE INDIAN CHICKPEA CURRY
- Serve: You can keep Chickpea Curry at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it needs to be cooled and stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Store: Place cooled Chickpea Curry in an airtight container and refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop, adding broth if the sauce is too thick.
- Freeze: Cool Chickpea Curry and store in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating on the stove top.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger , finely minced
- 2 green chilis , finely minced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 30 ounces canned chickpeas , drained and rinsed
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes , not drained
- 1/2 cup cilantro , chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Make your garam masala seasoning in a small bowl and stir cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg well.
- Add 2 tablespoons butter and onion to a large dutch oven on medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Add in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, ginger, chilis, garlic, turmeric and salt.
- Add garam masala to your pan and stir well until coated.
- Stir well and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in the vegetable broth, garbanzo beans and tomatoes, stir well and bring to a simmer.
- Lower heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes.
- Stir in cilantro and serve with flatbread or naan or dosa.