Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chana Masala

On Tuesday, in honor of St. Valentine, Simon and I made some delicious Indian food.  (Never mind the regional incongruity...)

Cooking Chana Masala
We made a version of Chana Malsala, the tomato-based chickpea dish that I always order when I'm at an Indian restaurant. 

Chana Masala
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 - 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
First, heat the oil and garlic in a skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onions become soft and begin to brown.  Next, reduce the heat to medium and add the curry and tomato paste.  Stir and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Then add the chickpeas, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and simmer for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Finally, add the crushed red pepper and margarine, stir and simmer for about 5 more minutes, and serve over rice. 

Yields 2 or 3 servings.

I love this dish.  Simon rightfully points out that it's a pretty one-dimensional dish; but, while there may not be tons of ingredients involved, the flavor is still really nice.  The lemon juice brightens up the flavor so it's both spicy and light.
These ingredients are all pretty standard and inexpensive.       
 Ease of Preparation:   
This is a simple recipe to prepare.  It doesn't take long to make (especially when using canned chickpeas).  If you're serving it over rice, you should be able to start the rice first and prepare this dish while the rice is cooking.         
Non-vegan friendliness:   
This dish holds its own.  Compared to some other vegan dishes (or other Indian dishes), it has a pleasantly substantial mouthfeel.  You can really take a bite of Chana Masala, while that might not be the case with lentils, for instance. 


  1. If you love Chana Masala, I bet you'd also really like this other tomato-chickpea curry that I make ALL the time because it takes about 5 minutes to throw together. It uses similar ingredients to this recipe, but uses diced tomatoes rather than tomato paste, so there is even more yummy tomato flavor. I serve it with brown rice but you could also do some naan or a whole wheat pita or some other kind of bread. This makes 2-3 servings, depending on how hungry you are! Obviously it's easily doubled, I'm just usually cooking for one! It also keeps really well for leftovers.

    1 TBSP olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    About 3/4 of a yellow onion, chopped. Or use the whole thing if you like onion a lot. A little more than a third of a cup at the minimum, probably up to about half a cup.
    1 can diced tomatoes (or 2 cups if you dice up fresh tomatoes)
    1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1 TBSP curry powder
    1/4 tsp salt

    In a medium skillet (or wok, or whatever you have), heat the olive oil. Sauté the garlic and onion, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, curry powder, and salt. Let simmer for 15 minutes. I usually cover it during this time. I also usually taste it around the 10 minute mark to make sure the chickpeas dont cook too long and get mushy but normally 15 minutes is just about right. Yum.

  2. Sounds great! I'll give it a try sometime.