Want to learn how to make Chana Masala? Consider this your how-to guide on preparing this well-loved Indian dish!
What is Chana Masala?
Chana Masala, also known as chole masala, or chholay, is a popular chickpea dish that originated in India. The type of chickpea used for this dish is called chana or kala chana. There are many health benefits of chickpeas, which we talk about in our guide of dals and lentils.
Chana Masala Ingredients
The key ingredient in Chana Masala is the chickpea! Other than that legume, red onion is typically the only other whole ingredient in this meal. Like many Indian dishes, Chana Masala is rich in flavor, which means it’s rich in spices! Garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala are the main stars in this recipe. For those who might be unfamiliar, garam masala is a blend of Indian spices, usually ground into one mix. Other ingredients include oil, salt, and Chola Masala powder, which is optional.
Canned Chickpeas or Not?
There are a couple of ways to make Chana Masala. Some swear by making their own chickpeas for this recipe. If you go this route, it’s recommended that you soak your chickpeas overnight beforehand. The plus side of making your own chickpeas is that they retain more of the nutrients and oftentimes end up being more flavorful and nutty than their canned counterparts. Aside from soaking them for at least a few hours, you have to cook them for a couple of hours as well and let them simmer. So while they take more time and effort, it might be more worth it in the end. However, if you’re in more of a pinch, canned chickpeas can be more convenient and cook in under an hour. While you might be sacrificing some of the flavors, they still get the job done and are there and ready when you need them!
When is Chana Masala Served?
An Indian staple, this meal can be served at various times, depending on the occasion. While it’s common to eat as a snack or on the go, it’s also a regular at ceremonies or special occasions. However, no matter the occasion, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on – Chole Masala is a well-loved recipe in Indian households. Usually, each house has its own version of the meal depending on the family recipe, so don’t be too surprised if no two taste the same!
What Sides Can I Serve?
If you’re eating Chana Masala as a snack or a quick meal, it’s common to eat the dish by itself. In case you’re looking for a heartier meal, we love pairing Chole Masala with flatbreads, tortillas, salads, rice, or soups like our Dal Tadka. You can also serve with chicken if you’re opting for a non-vegetarian meal. Another popular option is to turn it into Chole Bhature, which is Chole Masala served with bhature. Bhature is a special type of fried bread made from maida flour. Chole Bhature was made popular in the Punjab region in India and is commonly served for breakfast!
Storing Chana Masala
You can freeze Chana Masala, but it’s important to note that the longer it’s kept in the freezer, the odds of it drying out are greater. You also risk the legumes getting mushy over time… yuck! One way to try and avoid this is to freeze your Chana Masala in small portion sizes. That way, you can heat up what you want without waste and without risking a giant pile of mush. Everyone wins!
How to Make Chana Masala
For this recipe, we’re using canned chickpeas – but you’re more than welcome to sub-in dry chickpeas! Just make sure you give them an adequate amount of time to soak – at least for a couple of hours if not overnight. You can start by heating oil in your pan and then add in your onions to caramelize. Add in garlic and ginger and salt to taste. From there, you can combine your chickpeas and tomatoes into the onion mixture and simmer until the gravy has a smooth consistency. OR, just add Sukhi’s Classic Indian Curry Paste to skip all these steps. Then you can add in your lemon juice and jalapeños and you’re good to go! Top with cilantro until your little heart’s content!
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 green cardamom
- 1 packet Sukhi’s Classic Indian Curry Paste
- 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- salt or to taste
- 2 cans about 15-oz chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped for garnish
- Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil, cumin seeds and cardamom.
- Add Sukhi’s Classic Indian Curry Paste. Cook on medium for one minute. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium high until the tomatoes are cooked.
- Mix in the chickpeas, salt, and 2 ¼ cups of water.
- Raise the heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes, until the chickpeas are very tender.
- Uncover, and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes to desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt and seasoning. Add lemon juice, and cilantro leaves.
- Serve hot with hot chapati or rice.