Chana Masala

Chana masala, or chole masala, is one of the most popular Indian dishes in the United States. It’s easy to prepare, delicious, vegetarian, and nutritious, and I find it as satisfying as any meat dish.

The idea is simple: Make a curried tomato sauce and add chickpeas. For the best flavor and texture, it’s always preferable to start with dried chickpeas, but sometimes we don’t have time. I welcome the convenience of canned for this recipe.


  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon kala jeera (black cumin seeds; optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Indian chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons/30 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 (28-ounce/794-gram) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 (15.5-ounce/439-gram) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


Combine the ginger, garam masala, kala jeera (if using), coriander, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon in a ramekin.

In a saucepan that will comfortably contain all the ingredients, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to froth (meaning the water is nearly cooked off), add the spices, stirring to mix, and cook for 30 to 60 seconds.

Add the juice from the can of tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Squeeze the tomatoes into the pan, turning them to pulp in your hand. Stir and gently simmer the tomatoes for 30 minutes or so. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and serve.