A Really Good Chana Masala

This recipe makes enough simmer sauce for two nights of chana masala. Make one, freeze one. I also used it as a component in dumpling filling the other night! The recipe calls for two cans of chickpeas, but you can substitute 4 cups of chickpeas cooked from dried, I do this all the time if I don't have cooked chickpeas on hand. And be sure to source good chana masala powder - worth it!


  • 1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 1- inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 14-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 generous tablespoon chana masala powder (I use this one)
  • lemon or lime
  • to serve: lots of scallions, lots of cilantro


Make the Simmer Sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and saute for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and serrano chile, and allow to cook for another minute or two, or until fragrant. Add the garam masala, turmeric powder, cayenne, coriander, cumin, and salt. Stir well, and then add the tomatoes and water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until thick. Remove the sauce from heat, and reserve half for later use - it will keep refrigerated for 5 days or so, or freeze.

Add the Chickpeas and Serve

  1. Mash about half of the chickpeas with a big fork or potato masher. This is the magic trick. Combine the whole and smashed chickpeas with 1 cup of the simmer sauce, and the chana masala powder in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir well, and add a generous splashes of water to thin the chana masala out, to loosen it up a bit, until it is a porridge consistency. This is usually in the range of 1 - 1 1/4 cups. Stir in a generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and serve showered generously with lots of chopped scallions and cilantro. Enjoy!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Serves 6