Easy and simple chana masala recipe that is gluten free, vegan, and top 14 allergy friendly! A healthy meal that is ready in under an hour.
This traditional easy chana masala recipe uses simple ingredients like cinnamon, cumin, garam masala, and others simmered in a rich tomato based broth. Serve it with basmati rice, naan, or just enjoy it by the bowlful!
Free from: wheat, gluten, yeast, dairy, casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, sesame, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, corn, celery, mustard, and more
Chana masala needs no introduction. This dish is believed to have originated in northern India and has become a beloved dish all over the world as a staple of Indian restaurants. Recipes vary from different regions, this recipe is a simple version made with easy ingredients. You can find a more traditional preparation here.
I love to serve this with my gluten free naan bread!
Chana masala starts with a delicious onion and tomato broth, adds traditional spices, and finally the chickpeas.
This chana recipe doesn’t contain red peppers or red chili powder. Some recipes call for that and if you love spicy dishes, feel free to add them! I think a serrano chili chopped would be delicious. However, a pepper is not required for this meal, so only add it if you enjoy hot spice.
- Chickpeas - Use dried or canned chickpeas. The full instructions for both are below!
- Tomatoes - I love to keep it easy with using a large can of diced tomatoes.
- Garam masala - this is a staple of many Indian recipes and is a spice blend of cinnamon, mace, corriander, cumin, cardamon, and peppers, among other spices. The blend of spices will differ with each brand. My favorite brand is this one here!
- Oil for frying - You can use a neutral oil like canola, olive, or even coconut oil.
- Fresh cilantro - This is a perfect touch on top of the finished chana masala!
- Milk of choice (optional)
Canned vs Dry Beans
Dried chickpeas are the traditional ingredient for chana masala. Begin by soaking your beans overnight and then cooking them until tender, about 45 minutes. Then add them to the prepared chana masala sauce just as you do in this recipe.
You can shortcut this process if you have an instant pot! While they won’t taste exactly like beans soaked overnight, this is a quick alternative.
And yes, you can totally use chickpeas from a can. I like to cook my canned chickpeas in stock for 15 minutes to help soften them and impart a little flavor.
Prep your chickpeas
For the full recipe with measurements, please see the recipe card below!
Begin by soaking the chickpeas. In a large pot, add one cup of dried chickpeas along with 3 cups of cool water. In the morning, drain and rinse the chickpeas. They should have expanded in size, leaving you with about 2.5 cups of chickpeas.
To cook these chickpeas on the stove top, place the chickpeas in a medium sized pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. The chickpeas should easily smush between your fingers when fully cooked.
To cook these chickpeas in an instant pot or a pressure cooker, place the soaked chickpeas in an instant pot and cover with water. Cook on high pressure for about 18 minutes. The chickpeas should be fully cooked.
If you are using canned chickpeas, you can skip this step. I sometimes boil my canned chickpeas in a little stock for 15 minutes to really soften the chickpeas up, but this is not necessary.
Make the Sauce
In a medium to large pot on the stove, over medium-high heat, add your sliced onions and olive oil. If you are using a dutch oven, cook this on medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions soften and begin to become translucent.
Add the spices and cook for about 30 seconds to allow them to become fragrant.
Now add the tomatoes and water. Give it a good stir before adding your chickpeas. You can add more or less water depending on how much sauce you enjoy with your finished chana.
Cover and let the chana cook down for 30 to 45 minutes, again depending on how much sauce you enjoy. Make sure you stir frequently to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pot.
Finally, a few minutes before serving, add the milk of your choice.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Is this recipe vegan? Is this recipe gluten free?
Yes and yes! This recipe is naturally vegan and gluten free.
Can I use canned chickpeas in this dish?
Yes! Please see the note above on how to use the different kinds of chickpeas.
Can I make this with whole spices?
Yes! Place whole sticks of cinnamon into a cheesecloth bag or tea bag so that you can find them after cooking. Using whole spices adds a nice depth of flavor to this dish.
Can I make this in a slow cooker?
Yes! Add the soaked chickpeas to the slow cooker. Make the tomato sauce on the stove. Add the two together in the slow cooker and let cook on low heat for 4 hours or until soft. You will need less water with this method.
How to Store
Chana masala is best served and enjoyed right away.
Fridge: Keep any leftover chana masala in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Store cooked and cooled chana masala in an airtight freezer safe container and enjoy within 2 months. To reheat, place frozen chana masala in a pot and cook until hot.
Want more vegan recipes? Check these out!
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- cutting board
- mixing bowls
- mixing spoons
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- cooking pots
- 2 tablespoons oil for cooking
- 3 cups chickpeas 2 15 oz. cans or 1 cup soaked
- 28 oz tomatoes
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger swap for 1 inch fresh minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder swap for 2 to 3 fresh cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 3 tablespoons milk of choice optional
- 2 cups of water approx
- 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped (optional)
- If using canned chickpeas, skip to making the chana masala.
- In a large bowl the night before, soak 1 cup of dried chickpeas in 3 cups of water. Let rest for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse them well. Add the soaked chickpeas to a large pot and cover with water. Let cook for 45 to 60 minutes or until chickpeas are soft and can be mashed between your fingers.
Make the Chana Masala
- In a large pot on the stove, over medium heat, cook the onions in the oil of your choice. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft. If using fresh ginger and garlic, add this now and cook for 1 minute before adding spices.
- Add the spice mix (including powdered ginger and powdered garlic if using) and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Now add the tomatoes in their juices. Stil well. Add the chickpeas. Add in water. Stir well and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Let simmer for 45 minutes, or until the sauce has cooked down to what you like. Some people like chana masala with a little more sauce and others like it with a little less sauce.
- Add your milk of choice if desired.
- Top with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice or naan or both. Enjoy!