This pared down take on chana masala (Indian chickpea stew) requires minimal effort and is perfect for meal prep.
Chana masala is one of those reliable meals I could happily eat any time of day. With toast for breakfast, with a side of greens for lunch, on a grain bowl for dinner, you name it. I’ve even snuck cold forkfuls of it from the fridge after getting home from a late night out.
This classic Indian chickpea stew can be found in nearly every Indian restaurant and instructions for homemade versions are available on nearly every recipe site on the world wide web. Although not entirely “authentic”, my easy vegan version requires minimal work and ingredients. Like most stews, it gets even better after a day or two in the fridge.
Ingredient Notes + Substitutions
- Onion + Garlic: Create the sweet-savory foundation for the stew.
- Fresh Ginger: Adds a cozy, warming quality. Do not substitute with dried.
- Canned Chickpeas: Always drain and rinse chickpeas before adding to any dish. If using home-cooked chickpeas, you’ll need 3 cups.
- Tomato Sauce: I appreciate the hint of sweetness in tomato sauce. But if you only have canned diced tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, feel free to sub.
- Cumin Seeds: A signature ingredient for this classic stew. You can sub with ground cumin for a slightly milder flavor.
- Garam Masala: This popular Indian spice blend has a warming, wintery personality and is essential for chana masala. (The main ingredients are star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, coriander, and cumin.) It’s available in most supermarkets these days.
- Ground Coriander: Adds another layer of flavor. If you don’t have any, substitute with a dash more garam masala.
- Turmeric: Adds a floral note and yellow hue.
Easy Chana Masala Step-by-Step
Sauté the Aromatics: Start by cooking the onion with oil and cumin seeds until it’s soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Then add the remaining spices and cook for just 30 seconds more to avoid burning them.
Add the Chickpeas: Add about half of the chickpeas and roughly mash them until most of them are broken down; this will thicken the stew.
Simmer the Stew: Then add the remaining chickpeas, tomato sauce, lemon juice, turmeric, and a bit of water. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.
Finish the Stew: Taste and season with salt and more lemon juice, if needed. I like to wait til the end to add most of the salt since canned chickpeas and tomato sauce can be quite salty on their own. Sprinkle liberally with cilantro and/or scallions before serving.
What to Serve with Chana Masala
Like I mentioned, chana masala gets even better after a day or two in the fridge, so you can definitely make it in advance – just hold off on adding fresh herbs until serving. This stew also freezes well and is perfect for vegan meal prep.
More ways with chickpeas…
- Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup
- Curried Chickpea Salad
- Tahini Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas
- Baked Falafel Patties
If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag your creation with @thenewbaguette on Instagram.Print
This pared down take on chana masala requires minimal effort and is perfect for meal prep.
- 2 tablespoons coconut, avocado, or organic canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds* (see note below)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons garam masala*
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander*
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cilantro or scallions, for serving (optional)
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and cook until they’re browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger, as well as 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add half of the chickpeas and crush them with a potato masher until most of them are smashed. Then add the remaining chickpeas, the tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, lots of black pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Garnish with herbs before serving.
- If you want to sub cumin seeds with ground cumin, add it after the onions are cooked (with all the other spices).
- Garam masala is a popular Indian spice blend essential for this stew. It’s available in most supermarkets.
- Coriander adds another layer of flavor here. If you don’t have any, substitute with a dash more garam masala.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
- Calories: 290
- Fat: 10.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 39.6 g
- Fiber: 10.9 g
- Protein: 12 g
Keywords: indian, chickpea, stew, chana masala