Perfect Chana masala recipe | Chana Masala for poori | Indian Chickpeas masala curry
Last Updated on July 5, 2023 by Santosh Allada
Easy and simple Chana Masala recipe to make restaurant-style at home. A scrumptious dish of tender chickpeas covered with a thick and chatpata sauce.
My first encounter with this dish was at a Veg North Indian restaurant. After looking at the menu, got tempted by the items listed in North Indian thali. So, ordered the thali.
When the thali was served on the table, a metal plate full of various dishes was colorful to the eyes. The thali included soup, papad, pulao, dal (thick lentil stew), mixed vegetable curry, chana masala, puris, dahi (curd/yogurt), chutney (pickle), a sweet dish & ice cream. With so many delicacies, it was nothing less than a grand feast.
The item that stood out in the thali was Chana Masala. A bowl was full of chickpeas in a thick gravy. One bite and I was blown with the flavors and texture of the gravy. It was a tongue-tickling dish. After that, it’s a consistent order whenever we visit an authentic North Indian restaurant or at a food court in a mall.
The complex flavors and color of chana were different than the chole made at home. Mom makes a delicious chole curry, but it’s a South Indian style that has mustard seeds, curry leaves, dry red chilies in the tempering.
About Chana Masala
Chana Masala is a delicious and famous North Indian curry made by cooking chana in a medium spicy and tangy onion-tomato base gravy along with flavorful spices and herbs. Word-to-word translation of chana masala is spiced chickpeas.
Chana refers to Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans and masala refers to a mixture of spices used in Indian cooking. The chana masala recipe I’m sharing today is a Punjabi version.
This dish has many names such as Chole, Chole Masala, Channay, Chhole Masala, Chholay, Chickpea (garbanzo beans) curry. All the recipes are almost the same, with a slight variation depending on the region.
Chana Masala should not be mistaken with Punjabi Chole usually served along with Bhature. In India, places such as the Indian railway canteen, school/college canteens, catering menu of wedding ceremonies, street stalls, and tiffin centers chana masala and chole are interchangeably used to refer to Indian chickpea curry.
Both the dishes are made with boiled chickpeas and onion-tomato gravy but there are distinguishing factors, mainly the color of the gravy and spices. Will share the Punjabi Chole recipe soon.
What makes this Chana Masala recipe special?
The characteristic of this chana masala recipe is that it tastes just like Restaurant style Chana masala. The right combination of spices and cooking the ingredients well are the secrets to the best chana masala. The blend of spices creates a huge explosion of flavors in every bite.
This recipe with tips makes chana masala a no-brainer. Homestyle chana masala recipe has challenges in getting the balance of flavors and consistency of the gravy.
The ingredients mentioned in the recipe add a unique flavor and has a tantalizing balance of spicy, tangy, and mild sweetness.
There are two types of Indian chickpeas:
1. Chole: They are large in size and white in color.
2. Kala/Brown chana: They are smaller in size and darker variant.
Traditionally, chana masala recipe uses chole/white chickpeas. But, you can make the same curry with brown/black chickpeas too.
The Chana Masala recipe has four steps:
1. Cooking the chickpeas.
2. Making the flavorful onion-tomato masala.
3. Add the cooked chickpeas and simmer.
4. Add tadka.
Reasons to try
Super easy recipe.
Relish restaurant-style chana masala at home.
100% Vegetarian and Gluten-free.
Can be made Vegan (skip ghee tempering).
Fuss-free cooking and no fancy ingredients.
The dish is packed with flavors.
Chana is protein-packed.
The onion-tomato base gravy is customizable.
Perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch.
Ingredients to make Chana Masala
Chana: You can either raw/dried or canned chickpeas. Use fresh and good quality chana.
Oil: In this recipe, I have used sunflower oil to cook the gravy.
Onion and tomatoes: Use bright red tomatoes.
Dry spice powders: In this recipe, you need some everyday spices such as turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander, and cumin powder.
Chana masala powder: This special spice mix gives a unique taste to the chana masala. It differentiates the dish from the rest of the North Indian dishes.
Each spice powder has its significance for authentic taste. So try not to miss any of the spice powders.
Flavor enhancer: Amchur powder, a sour powder/dust made from raw unripe green mangoes. It will give channa masala its pleasant tartness.
You can easily get it from a grocery store. If you are unable to get it, squeeze lemon juice at the end and do not cook.
Kasuri methi: It is an essential and one of the secret ingredients used in restaurants to make North Indian dishes.
Herbs: Fresh coriander leaves. Adds refreshing flavor to the dish.
For Tadka: ghee, carom seeds/ajwain, green chilies, and kashmiri red chili powder.
Salt to taste.
How to cook raw/dried and canned chickpeas?
Raw variant: Wash the chickpeas thoroughly and soak them in plenty of water for 8-12 hours. Discard the water and pressure cook until soft.
I use a pressure cooker to perfectly boil the kabuli chana. You can use an instant pot or electric pressure cooker. The cooking time depends on the quality of chickpeas, density of water, and flame.
Canned: Drain the water and wash to remove excess sodium. As they are pre-cooked chickpeas, you do not need to pressure cook. Add after cooking the masala. Do not use the water chickpeas were canned in.
How to make Chana Masala
1. Take kabuli chana in a bowl and rinse well. Add water and soak for 8-12 hours. Discard the water and wash the chana once again.
2. Add them to a pressure cooker along with water, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, and green cardamom.
3. Pressure cook on high flame for 4-6 whistles or till the chickpeas are soft.
4. Turn off the flame and let the pressure release naturally. Discard the whole spices.
Grind tomatoes and coriander stems to a smooth puree. Keep aside.
5. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. When hot, add cumin seeds and let them crackle.
6, 7, & 8. Add finely chopped onions and saute till they turn a light brown color.
9 & 10. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
11. Turn the flame to low and add coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, chana masala powder/chole masala/garam masala, and salt. Fry until for 5-10 seconds.
12. Add little water.
13. Saute till oil separates.
14, 15, & 16. Add tomato puree and saute on medium flame till moisture reduces and oil separates.
In a blender jar, add 3 tbsp chole and grind to a smooth paste by adding little water.
17. Add the chana paste and fry for 1 minute.
18 & 19. Add amchur powder and kasuri methi. Mix well.
20. Turn the flame to high and add boiled chickpeas along with the water.
21 & 22. Mix well and let the water come to a boil. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
23. Cover the pan and simmer the curry for 15-20 minutes.
24. If the gravy has the desired consistency, turn off the heat. Else continue to cook till the gravy thickens. Finally, add coriander leaves.
Next, add tadka.
25. Heat ghee in a tadka pan over medium heat. When hot, add slit green chilies and ajwain.
26. Turn off the flame and add kashmiri red chili powder.
27. Pour this tadka on the chana curry and immediately cover the pan.
28. Chana Masala is ready to serve.
Use fresh ingredients: Do not use whole spices or masala powders that have been for a long time. They lose their aroma.
Do not discard the water in which chole was boiled: The water is full of flavors. Add the water to adjust the consistency of the gravy.
Saute the onions until golden brown. The browner, the better. The caramelized onions add a mild sweetness. While cooking they will dissolve in the gravy which helps lend body to the gravy. To fasten this process, chop or dice the onions finely.
Use fresh ginger-garlic paste. These two ingredients add extra flavor to the chana sabzi. To get the best taste, crush them into a paste using a food processor, a blender/mixie, or in a mortar and a pestle.
Cook the ginger-garlic paste on low flame. If you cook on high flame, they will burn and taste bitter.
Do not add more chana/chole masala: The spice powder has whole spices that have strong flavors. Adding more quantity will make the gravy taste bitter.
Use little extra oil to cook the ingredients: Extra fat help in cooking the base gravy well and taste better.
Can I use less oil to make chana masala? Yes, use a non-stick pan to make the dish with less oil. A tip to confirm if the masala has cooked well, the texture of the base gravy will be granular and leave the pan.
Cook the masala on low-medium flame: Always cook the masala till you see oil on the sides. Keep stirring the masala frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom.
Consistency of the gravy. You can adjust the consistency of chana masala sabji to your liking by adding less or more water. The consistency can be soupy, semi-gravy, or completely dry.
Grind a few cooked kabuli chana: It will help in a thicker gravy texture.
Simmer the curry for 15-20 minutes: In restaurants, the base gravy is simmered for long hours on slow flame. For authentic restaurant taste, simmer the curry for flavors to come together.
Finishing with ghee tadka: This step elevates the aroma and adds goodness to the dish.
Add ajwain in tadka: Chana combinations with poori, bhautre, rice can be a very heavy meal and hard to digest. Ajwain helps in the digestion of food. But, add in very little quantity.
Cover the pan immediately after adding the tadka: The hot fat is a carrier of the aroma and flavors from the ingredients. Covering the pan will ensure that the curry will absorb the aroma and flavors of the tadka.
What do you serve with Chana curry?
Chana masala tastes best with pooris or bhaturas. But you can also serve it with Indian bread like chapatis, rotis, phulkas, laccha parathas, plain parathas, tandoori roti, butter naan with some onion salad and lemon wedges on the side.
For my kid, I use the chana masala as stuffing to make sliders, rolls, or sandwiches.
Sliders: Saute the gravy in a pan until the gravy dries out a bit. Slit open the burger buns or dinner rolls and saute in a pan with some butter. Add chana masala, top it with sliced onions, tomatoes, mayo or tomato sauce.