Simple Chana Masala (Black chickpeas curry)

Chana masala recipe can be a bit elaborate with a bunch of spices roasted and ground together with or without coconut. However, here is a simplified and different style of chana masala. If you are fond of chickpeas, you would want to try this dish. Again one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes. Almost all households in India have their own traditional ground spice mix that is used in daily cooking. It varies from region to region, community to community and even within communities. Families proudly share their spice mixes with one another. You do get quite a few commercial versions of the more popular spice mixes. Similarly, my mom uses our family ground spice mix. However, I have come up with a desirable combination of red chili powder and garam masala that could replicate the taste. While developing all these recipes I unlearned the use of commercial spice mixes (except for garam masala) 🙂 which I use in some dishes. I trained myself to work with basic ingredients- that way its easy to replicate the recipe for anyone anywhere as long as they can find the basic ingredients. Garam masala is also a spice mix that is sort of omnipresent. It usually contains black peppercorn, cinnamon, clove, black cardamom, bay leaf along with other spices. Although, the proportion of spices used varies from brand to brand and region to region, any garam masala does give a nice flavor and adds some heat to the dish. In this recipe and others I have posted, you can adjust the level of heat by moderating the garam masala for your preference. Same goes for the red chili powder, depending on the type of chili powder you are using.

Serve the chana masala with whole wheat roti, or phulka or even rice & a fresh salad. Since chana are high in fiber, this is your chance to eat rice without too much guilt! 🙂 Keep in mind not to eat too much of the rice and small amounts of this dish. Popularly, chana masala is served with bhaturas (delicious, fried bread – not recommended unless you are an active, healthy adult or child) 😉

Nutri-Educate: Black chickpeas, like other legumes, are valued for their high fiber, good amount of protein, potassium, B-complex vitamins especially for vegetarians & more so for vegans. They also contain omega-3 fatty acid content as well. Do not use soda for cooking pulses – though it reduces cooking time, it also destroys the B-complex vitamins. Similarly, do not discard the water used for soaking or cooking the legumes. It contains some of the water-soluble nutrients, which will be lost if the water is discarded.

Recommended for weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, constipation.

Per serving: 162 cals | 6 proteins | 6 fiber | 6 g total fat | 0.4 g omega-3 fatty acid  

Ingredients (6 servings)

1 cup black chana/black chickpeas, dry

½ large onion, chopped*

1″ ginger, chopped & mashed (~2 tsp ginger paste)

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped & mashed

2 tbsp low fat yogurt (1%)

1/8  tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chili powder

½ tsp garam masala

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp oil

Salt as needed

*½ onion in US= 1 onion in India


  1. Soak the black chana overnight, 12 hours with 2 cups of water. Next morning, pressure-cook it for 10 minutes on low heat after the first whistle (Indian pressure cooker) or on low heat after pressure regulator starts to rock (US pressure cooker). Do not discard the water that was used for soaking and that remains after cooking. It contains some of the water-soluble nutrients.
  2. While the chana are cooking, chop the onion and mash the ginger and garlic.
  3. Heat oil in a non-stick pot and add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions for a few minutes till they caramelize on medium heat.
  4. Add the mashed ginger and garlic and sauté for another minute. You could use commercially prepared ginger paste, ~2 tsp. However, I prefer to use fresh ginger paste. But depending on the time on hand, you can use something that suits you.
  5. Now, add the dry ingredients and mix well for a minute or two. Enjoy the aroma that develops from roasting the spice powders over sauteed onion.
  6. If the chana are done, add the boiled chana along with the water to the pot. If the chana are not done, turn off the heat and wait till the chana are done and then add it to the onion and mix well.
  7. Add additional 1 cup water or 1.5 cups and let the chana boil for about 5 -10 minutes on medium heat, depending on how much time you have. This time is basically to allow the chana to absorb the flavors. The longer this dish sits, the more flavorful it becomes! 🙂 The hard chickpeas take their sweet time to absorb the masalas. Nevertheless, the dish should taste good.
  8. Add salt and adjust the spiciness with sugar. Let the chana cool down a bit and then add the yogurt. Yogurt is my addition to my mom’s dish. It changes the color to a nice light brown curry, and it also reduces the heat of the red chili powder and garam masala.
  9. Serve with your choice of cereal (bread, roti, rice etc..)
  10. Don’t forget to add a refreshing salad of diced cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro and lemon juice.
  11. Enjoy and leave your feedback for me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s