An authentic recipe for Chana Masala using dry or canned chickpeas that can be made in an Instant pot or on the stovetop. Easy and flavorful, vegan-adaptable. With a video! + 25 Best Chickpea Recipes!

The best Chana masala recipe!

Chana Masala is a classic Indian stew typically made with spiced chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger.  Serve it with basmati rice and naan, and it becomes a hearty vegetarian meal.

This version takes advantage of the instant pot, especially if wanting to use dry chickpeas, it turns out great and is fast and easy. But feel free to use canned chickpeas if you have them. Either way, this quick and easy vegetarian dinner recipe is full of delicious Indian flavors. For more Indian dishes check out 35+ Mouthwatering Indian Recipes to Make at Home!

Watch how to make Chana Masala | Video

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Authentic– This is one of the most popular Indian curries and is a staple in Indian homes and restaurants. It is that good!
  • Good for Digestion- All of these spices are amazing for your gut health. Which also means you will feel good after your meal.
  • Flavorful– It is so good! The tender chickpeas are seasoned with bright tomato and savory spices- so homey and satisfying!
  • It is also Vegan!

Ingredients In Chana Masala

Chana Masala starts with a fragrant mix of spices. Remember, masala means “spice”.

Chana Masala spices.

Chana Masala Ingredient Notes

  • Spices- the spice blend in chana masala varies greatly in India depending on the area, and even down to the specific household. Each blend is unique. And that is what makes this fun! Please adapt it to your own tastes! This blend contains cumin seeds (whole), garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, fennel seeds, paprika (or chili powder), dried fenugreek leaves, ground turmeric.
  • Ghee- brings this to another level. 
  • Shallots- or use onions.
  • Tomatoes- fresh is best here for optimum flavor but if need be, substitute tomato puree.
  • Chickpeas- dry, soaked chickpeas or canned or fully cooked chickpeas.

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.     

How To Make Chana Masala

Sautéing spices with ghee for Chana Masala.

Step One- Saute the whole spices in ghee, then add the onions, garlic and chili.

Sautéing spices with ghee for Chana Masala.

Step Two– Add the ground spices… and saute, which will give the final dish delicious depth!

Chana masala simmering in pot.

Step Three- Add the fresh tomatoes, water, soaked chickpeas and bay leaves, and season with salt. Let this pressure cook for 40 minutes. Release the pressure. If it seems liquidy, cook it down on the saute function for a few minutes to thicken.

Serve! Serve it over Basmati Rice with pickled onions and naan bread. I love adding something fresh here- tomatoes, cucumbers or radishes. It’s delcious with Raita!

Chana masala in a bowl with rice and naan.

What to Serve With Chana Masala

Also delicious, drizzled with cilantro mint chutney!

Or for something different, serve it atop a baked sweet potato! So yummy!

Chana Masala FAQS

What is Chana Masala? 

Chana Masala is an Indian-Style Chickpea dish often served with basmati rice, or naan. Chana Masala is Hindi for “Spiced Chickpeas”. (Chana translates to chickpeas and masala translates to spice.) If you are wondering what the difference is between Chana Masala and Tikka Masala, Tikka usually refers to “meat”- so spiced meat dish. Get it? 😉

Can you make Chana Masala vegan?

Of course!  BUT I really hesitate because it is the use of ghee that gives this Chana Masala its amazing flavor!  That being said, do as you please. Sub coconut oil, or olive oil. 🙂

Can you make Chana Masala in an instant pot?

YES absolutely- especially if using dry chickpeas. Dry chickpeas must either be soaked or pre-cooked in the instant pot for a few minutes. It’s easy!

What are Chana Masala Spices?

Chana Masala actually varies greatly in India depending on the area, and even down to the specific household. Each blend is unique. And that is what makes this fun! Here is my favorite blend, but please adapt it to your own tastes! Cumin seeds (whole), garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, fennel seeds, paprika (or chili powder), dried fenugreek leaves, ground turmeric.

More Recipes You May Enjoy

So play around with this, and see how you like it best. The leftovers can also be frozen! Hope you enjoy the Chana Masala and let us know how you like it in the comments below!

xoxo Sylvia

Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.

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the best recipe for Chana Masala

Chana Masala Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 44 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Vegan, Main
  • Method: Instant pot, stove top
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

An authentic Chana Masala Recipe that can be made in an Instant pot or on the stovetop using dry chickpeas or canned chickpeas. A quick and easy Vegetarian dinner recipe that is full of amazing Indian flavor!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, (soaked in water 12-24 hours or see notes) or sub 4-5 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
  • 23 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil. (GHEE elevates this to the next level of goodness!!!)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (whole)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 large shallots ( or sub one large onion)
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1/21 jalapeno or 1 serrano chili, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced (and their juices) or 14-ounce can tomato puree, (although fresh tastes better here)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (taste, use more if dry chickpeas, less if canned)
  • 2 cups water if using dry, soaked chickpeas (or 1/2 cup water if using if canned or fully cooked chickpeas)
  • 12 teaspoons honey or sugar if needed

Serve over Basmati Rice or with naan bread! Serve with pickled onions, and raita.


Instructions

  1. If using dry beans, soak chickpeas in a bowl with 6 cups water, for 8-12 hours on counter, or up to 24 hours in the fridge. Drain. (See notes for quick instant pot “soak”)
  2. Set Instant pot to Saute function. (See notes for stovetop.)Heat ghee and add whole bay leaves and cumin seeds  and fennel seeds stirring 2-3 minutes until fragrant and golden.
  3. Add shallots (or onions) Saute until golden and fragrant, stirring often. Add garlic, ginger and diced chili, saute 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add all the spices- garam masala, ground cumin, coriander, chili powder, fenugreek, turmeric.
  5. Give a stir then add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits.
  6. Once the tomatoes start to break down add the water (if using dry chickpeas), salt, and drained chickpeas. Give a good stir, scraping up any browned bits ( to prevent burn error).
  7. Set Instant to High Pressure for 25 minutes. (SEE NOTES!!!) Naturally, release for 15 minutes then manually release.
  8. Taste and adjust salt. If it tastes bitter, add a little sugar or honey  ( 1-2 teaspoons) to help balance.
  9. If you want it more flavorful, stir in another teaspoon of garam masala, or if you want extra richness, a splash of coconut milk is nice.

Notes

Instant Pot Cooking Times:

  1. If using soaked chickpeas (12-hour soaking method-my prefered method), pressure cook Chana Masala for 25 minutes.
  2. If using unsoaked chickpeas (which I really don’t recommend) pressure cook Chana Masala on high for 55 minutes. Naturally release. (Be aware, they may not cook evenly- especially if they are older beans)

How to “pre-soak” chickpeas in the Instant pot: place 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas, 4 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set to High pressure for 15 minutes. Manual or natural release. Drain, set chickpeas aside and wipe out the Instant Pot. Follow the recipe and pressure cook the chana masala for 40 minutes.

If using canned chickpeas, set instant pot to 6 minutes, add only 1/2 cup water,  manually release.

STOVETOP:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat ghee and add whole bay leaves and cumin seeds  and fennel seeds stirring 1-2 minutes until fragrant and golden. Add onions. Saute 5-7 minutes until golden, lowering the heat to medium. You really want these to deeply caramelize so they add a nice sweetness. Add garlic, ginger and diced chili, saute 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices- garam masala, ground cumin, coriander, chili powder, fenugreek, turmeric.
  3. Give a stir then add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Once the tomatoes start to break down add the water,  salt, and dry, soaked chickpeas. Give a good stir, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer gently until chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. If it tastes bitter, add a little sugar or honey to balance.
  4. *Or, make this on the stovetop with canned chickpeas, following the same directions, only adding  1/4- 1/2 cup water, simmering on low, for 10-15 minutes.

***Remember dry chickpeas will need more salt, canned chickpeas perhaps less salt.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 318
  • Sugar: 9.4 g
  • Sodium: 423 mg
  • Fat: 8.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 48 g
  • Fiber: 9.8 g
  • Protein: 14.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 10.2 mg

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to making this for dinner tonight! We’ve enjoyed so many of your recipes. Question – I am soaking dry beans for 8-9 hours on counter (new beans, just purchased), should that be enough soaking time for a 25 min instant pot cook? Thanks!






    1. Should be fine. Sometime chickpeas need more time, but sounds like yours are fairly fresh so should work out!

  2. I wondered if I could make this in the slow cooker, and if so, what the timings might be. With thanks x

    1. Hi Katie- great question. I have not cooked dry chickpeas in a slow cooker. My guess is 3-4 hours on low, 6-8 hours on high? Totally guessing here! Maybe less time if you soak them first?

  3. This recipe was so flavourful. Twas my first time trying chana masala and I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was I had some canned chickpeas and I needed to make something with them. Will definitely be making this again.






  4. This was a great no fuss recipe, very tasty. I didn’t have fengugreek leaves so missed them out and I added some cauliflower broken into small florets to add some bulk and a vege to this one plate dish.






  5. Just made this for the first time and it’s delicious! I think it might be the best dish I’ve ever made. Thank you!






  6. Made it today. Pressure cooked beans after soaking over 10 hours for 20 minutes. they are still a little crunchy. Nice and spicey needing more cooking in the sauce. Yummey dish.






    1. Oh interesting! Shoot! Sometimes “older” dry beans need longer soaking times, I’ve noticed.

  7. This sounds yummy and I’m planning to make it. I assume if using canned chickpeas that you drain and rinse them? Thanks!

  8. Oh my! This was SO delicious. We had it a few days later and the flavors marinated beautifully. Thank you for making me feel like such a talented cook with all of your recipes!






  9. This was so fun to make and very tasty. Loved all the various herbs and spices. We had it with basmati rice and Naan. Also made the raita, which was very lovely. My husband and I highly recommend this meal. You won’t miss the meat!






  10. I LOVE this recipe for many reasons. It is absolutely delicious and the house smells so good while it is cooking! My family loves it. It is also one of those pantry recipes that are wonderful for a day that I need to put something together without a trip to the store, because I usually have all the ingredients on hand. If I don’t have fresh ginger, I have reconstituted dried ginger and it was fine. (probably not as good as fresh of course but still yummy.) I also used 1/4 tsp powdered Fenugreek rather than the dried leaves as I can never find the leaves, and it worked fine as well. And finally, the instant pot makes it cook up in a flash! A win all around. Thank you, Sylvia, for this terrific recipe

    1. Hi Jan,
      Just a tip on ginger for you 🙂 You can buy a root of fresh ginger, stick it in the freezer and just take it out and grate from frozen whenever you need. No need to peel, especially if you buy organic.

  11. Very tasty, as usual, Sylvia (and Tonya). I made this stovetop, as I don’t have an Instant Pot. I halved the recipe, as I was just cooking for myself. I used canned chickpeas, as I find them easier to digest, tastier, and easier. I used a fresh tomato. I left out the fenugreek, as I had none (and can’t find it anywhere lately). Also, I added a little too much water, but it didn’t matter. The recipe was very forgiving. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. I was out of rice and had no naan, so I served this over quinoa. Delicious! Amazing how many good things one can make from a humble, inexpensive can of chickpeas.






  12. Adding this to my regular work lunch rotation. Leftovers keep really well.

    Take note, fenugreek leaves are the real difference-maker here. Usually my curries taste like poor imitations of what I order in south-Asian restaurants. But this spice takes me there.

    I was first introduced to fenugreek leaves from the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from this site. That one is also a winner.






  13. I made this with dry chickpeas pre-soaked in the instant pot. It came out well — beans were fully cooked and the spice profile was tasty.

    Next time, I’ll halve the water (sauce was a little too soupy for my taste) and double the fresh tomatoes (the tomatoes cooked down a lot and I was wanting more in the dish).

    Served up with naan to make it quick and easy, but basmati rice would be fine too.






  14. It is delicious, and easy. The timings for adding things are very helpful. I added a little tomato puree too.






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