Chana Masala is a vegan curry recipe that is famous around the world! So, you’ve probably heard of, and even eaten it. However, do you know what the name means? ‘Chana’ is an Indian word for chickpea and ‘masala’ describes various Indian spice mixes (there are many different masalas). Therefore, Chana Masala is a dish of ‘mixed-spice chickpeas‘.
This is quite a general description. Therefore, it’s no surprise that every region, family, and cook has their own recipe. Even so, there are some must-have ingredients that make a Chana Masala recipe recognizable. First and foremost, you need chickpeas (canned is fine) and spices! Commonly used spices include bay leaf, coriander seed, cumin, dried chilies, ginger, and Garam Masala. However, wait up! The Garam Masala doesn’t go in until the very end.
Finally, onions, garlic and plenty of tomatoes are added to give this dish a rich, flavorful body. Altogether, these ingredients form a delicious, naturally vegan curry.
How to make Chana Masala
We like to start our Chana Masala with a little oil in the pot. Next, we add the onions and sauté until soft. After that, we add the spices. This is because we don’t want our spices to burn while our onion remains raw. Some garlic and ginger go in once the spices become aromatic. Then, add the tomatoes, vegetable broth and chickpeas (crushed and whole) and let it simmer for a while.
Finally, we cut the heat and stir in a splash of lemon/lime juice, the Garam Masala and cilantro. Adding these ingredients last helps preserve the tang of the citrus and the aroma of the spice and herbs.
*Note: traditional Chana Masala recipes also use dried mango powder (amchur) and crushed pomegranate seed (anardana). However, these can be difficult to find. As a result, we’ve kept things simple by using ingredients from the local supermarket.
Rice and Shine! (or not …)
This recipe makes quite a hearty meal that you can eat on its own. However, there are also plenty of sides you can add to stretch it out. Less time spent cooking? Yay!
The simplest option is probably basmati rice (or any other rice, for that matter). Alternatively, you can pair it with your favorite rice substitutes – like quinoa, couscous, or some low-carb cauliflower rice! We’ve also seen people using Chana Masala to top roasted cauliflower and broccoli – sounds delicious to us!
Jealousy-Inspiring Lunch for Daaays
Do we ever stop talking about meal prep? Well, no! Because meal prep is awesome. We know everyone bugs you about this – but it really does start your week off right! Plus, like any well-spiced dish, the ingredients mingle over time and taste even better after a rest. Chana Masala keeps in the fridge for a few days, and also freezes really well! So make a big, easy batch on the weekend and you’ll have terrific lunches all week.
Well, we hope you find our simple Chana Masala recipe as tasty and easy as we do! If you tried it, please let us know what you think with a review and a comment. Every bit of feedback helps make The Plant Riot even better!Print
Chana Masala | Easy + Great for Meal Prep!
A simple Chana Masala recipe that’s perfect for whipping up after a long day! This vegan curry is full of flavor, really nutritious, and totally satisfying.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- 3 tablespoons avocado, canola or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (around 9 ounces / 250 grams)
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (chili flakes)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cardamon pods
- 4–6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
- 2 small cans (15 ounces / 425 grams) chickpeas, drained and rinsed Note: keep one can of chickpeas whole, and use a fork to roughly crush the chickpeas from the second can.
- 2 cups clear vegetable broth
- 1 small can (15 ounces / 425 grams) crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Juice of one lime or small lemon (whichever you prefer)
- Handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
To serve (optional)
- Steamed rice (Basmati rice is our favorite!)
- Roughly chopped cilantro, onion slices, julienne ginger pieces, squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice
- Add oil and onions to a large pot over medium heat, sauté until the onions start to soften (about 8 minutes). Sprinkle in the chili flakes, cumin, coriander, turmeric, bay leaves, and cardamom pods, stir until the spices are fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in minced garlic and ginger and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the chickpeas, vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and salt, then stir well.
- Raise heat and bring Chana Masala to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Mix in lime/lemon juice, cilantro, and Garam Masala. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Serve with basmati rice, cilantro, onion slices, and julienne ginger. Enjoy!
- Chana Masala is one of our favorite meal prep meals. We like to put it in lunch size containers and serve it alongside some rice. Store in the fridge or freezer, and be ready to be the envy of the lunch room!
- Nutritional information is to be used as a guide only as calories and nutrition vary between products and brands worldwide.
Keywords: Chana Masala, Chana Masala recipe, vegan curry, vegan recipes, The Plant Riot
This post contains affiliate links, which means that The Plant Riot (Rachel’s Fit Kitchen, LLC) will make a small commission if you purchase using these links. The price you pay as a consumer does not change. The Plant Riot only recommends products that we know, trust and love!