Indian Chickpea Masala
Chickpea masala is homemade Indian curry with all the flavor of a restaurant version. Make this easy chana masala recipe in under an hour!
Vegan chana masala shouldn’t lack in flavor, it should be just as delicious as the real thing. The secret to making this chickpea curry vegan but still flavorful is to use plenty of authentic Indian spices.
Most (if not all) of the spices in this recipe can be found at international markets, or if you have one nearby, an Indian spice market.
Otherwise, it’s easy to make your own spice blends at home, and you can order any individual spices you need online.
Ingredients in Chickpea Masala
Also known as garbanzo beans, you can use canned or fresh. If using fresh, make sure to soak and cook them first. You can find instructions on how to do this in my post, How to Cook Chickpeas.
- Diced tomatoes
Save time by using canned or feel free to use fresh Roma tomatoes. You’ll need to blanch them first to remove the skins before dicing.
- Serrano chili pepper
This has a heat similar to a jalapeno, but a little hotter and a bright, fresh flavor. It blends well with the rest of the chickpea masala ingredients. If needed, a fresno chili or red jalapeno pepper would be a good substitute.
- Chana masala spice blend
I make my own chana masala powder, but if you don’t want to make it, you should be able to find the blend at a specialty spice market. Or, for a milder flavor, you can leave this out completely.
- Garam masala
I make a homemade version of this spice too. The spices and flavors are fresher than those in a store bought chana masala spice blend. If you purchase it, you could always increase the amount of this spice. It just depends on how spicy you like your curry to taste.
Also spelled amchoor, this powder is made from dried, unripe mangoes. The flavor is acidic and sour. Most Indian grocers keep it in stock, or you can purchase it online.
If you’re unable to find it, good substitutes for dry mango powder are lime or lemon juice.
Video: Making an Easy Chana Masala
This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make. Just toast the spices to bring out their flavors, then simmer everything together until done!
To see the process from start to finish, check out the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Enjoy chickpea masala as a main course, or as a side dish with meals like butter chicken or lamb tagine. To boost the protein, add in shredded chicken if you’d like.
- Saute the onions: First, caramelize the onions in oil to bring out their sweetness.
- Toast the spices: Add all of the spices, garlic, and ginger, and diced serrano to the pan, stirring well to combine.
- Simmer everything: Next, stir in the tomatoes and chickpeas and simmer uncovered until thickened.
- Finish and serve: Once done, add the lemon juice and mango powder to the chickpea masala. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh cilantro.
- Storage – Keep any leftover chickpea curry in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. For the best flavor and texture, use within 3 days.
- Freezing – This easy chana masala can be frozen for up to 2 months, though the texture may change slightly when thawed. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheating – Heat in the microwave or on the stove until warmed through. Add reserved chickpea liquid or water as needed to thin out the texture.
- Handling peppers – When seeding and dicing the serrano chili or any other hot peppers, it’s best to wear gloves. The oils from the peppers can burn when transferred to the skin or eyes, and it’s easy to miss some spots when washing with soap and water.
Chickpea Masala + Video
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
- 2 red onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp ginger paste
- 3 small Serrano chili peppers seeded and finely diced
- 2 tbsp chana masala powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp garam masala seasoning
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 28 oz diced tomatoes (See Note 1)
- 30 oz chickpeas (2 cans, drained – See Note 2)
- 1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder, See Note 3)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- In a large stock pot or skillet add the oil and sauté the onions until almost golden.
- Next add the garlic, ginger paste, chiles, chana masala (optional), cumin, turmeric, garam masala and salt. Stirring to mix thoroughly.
- Add diced tomatoes and chickpeas (reserve 1 can chickpea liquid) to the onions. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Add the mango powder (optional), lemon juice and stir to incorporate completely. Season to taste. If the mixture is too thick feel free to dilute with water or chickpea liquid.
- Serve with garnish of chopped cilantro and lemon wedges.
- If using fresh Roma tomatoes: removing the skins is optional. To remove tomato skins, cut a small X on the opposite end of the stem side, then cook the tomato in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and place into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Using a paring knife peel back the skin from the X cut, discard the skins and dice the tomatoes.
- If you choose to use dried chickpeas instead of canned, follow the instructions in my post, how to cook chickpeas.
- Lemon juice may be substituted for amchur, the sweet and sour mango powder, if unavailable. Substitute three tablespoons of lemon juice for one teaspoon of amchur. May also substitute 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses as well.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
I made the Chana Masala Pwd. And your recipe for the Chickpea Curry calls for 2 TBS of this powder. But then, ( and this is where I get mixed up ), I ALSO add 1 TBS ground cumin. In addition to the masala pwd ?? And 1 whole TBS extra of garam masala ?
That is correct as the Chana Masala powder is optional (as in not everyone will have or make it). I think the flavors in the recipe are wonderful as written. Hope you give this a try Surati.
Alright , yes i’m making to for sure. Thx !
I told the family we were trying a new recipe the other night and let me just say…. this was a HUGE hit!! Definitely saving this one for many future uses!
I am so glad it was a hit! Thank you Krysti!
This is going on the dinner menu tonight for our side dish! I love chickpeas but never find recipes that look appealing! This one looks great and I cannot wait to dig in!
I hope you enjoy it! We love it!