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Vegetarian Chana Masala – Chickpea Curry Classic

30 minutes. Cook
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Vegetarian Chana Masala, a delightful chickpea curry, is a beloved classic in Indian cuisine. Its roots can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent, with regional variations that have made it a cherished staple worldwide. This hearty and flavorful dish is not only a treat for the taste buds but also a great source of plant-based protein. Let’s dive into the history, preparation, and step-by-step instructions for this delectable Vegetarian Chana Masala.

Historical Context: Chana Masala, also known as Chole Masala, is a popular vegetarian dish that hails from Northern India. Its origins can be traced to Punjab, where it is a dietary staple. The dish is thought to have evolved over centuries, influenced by various cultures and culinary traditions. Spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, which are prominently featured in Chana Masala, were introduced to the Indian subcontinent through trade routes. This blend of flavors and ingredients has made Chana Masala a harmonious and delicious representation of Indian cuisine.


1. Prepare the Chickpeas (if using dried):

  • If you’re using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight in a large bowl of water. Drain and rinse them the next day. Alternatively, you can use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot to cook them until tender. This will take approximately 25-30 minutes.

2. Sauté the Aromatics:

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds.
  • Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to brown, which should take about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and ginger, and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the raw aroma disappears.

3. Add the Spices:

  • Reduce the heat to low and add the ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, red chili powder, and salt. Stir well, allowing the spices to toast for about 2 minutes. If the mixture appears too dry, add a splash of water to prevent burning.

4. Incorporate Tomatoes:

  • Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and cook until they soften and the oil starts to separate, around 5-7 minutes.

5. Cook the Chickpeas:

  • If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain them. If using cooked dried chickpeas, add them to the saucepan. Stir to coat the chickpeas in the flavorful tomato and spice mixture.

6. Add Water and Simmer:

  • Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. If you prefer a creamier consistency, you can use a potato masher to mash some of the chickpeas at this point.

7. Final Touches:

  • Sprinkle garam masala over the dish and stir it in. Adjust the salt and red chili powder to your taste.
  • Let the Chana Masala simmer for a few more minutes to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.

Conclusion: Vegetarian Chana Masala, with its rich history and delightful flavors, is a testament to the diversity of Indian cuisine. Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply looking for a comforting and hearty meal, this classic chickpea curry is sure to satisfy your cravings. The blend of aromatic spices and the heartiness of chickpeas make it a wholesome and satisfying dish that has stood the test of time, and it’s ready to grace your dining table. Enjoy this flavorful journey through India’s culinary heritage with a bowl of Chana Masala!


prep time
45 minutes.
cooking time
30 minutes.
total time
45 minutes.


  • Large saucepan or pot

  • Wooden spoon

  • Cutting board and knife

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Mixing bowls

  • Potato masher (if you prefer a creamier consistency)

  • Serving dishes

  • Optional: Pressure cooker or Instant Pot (if using dried chickpeas)


  • 2 cups dried chickpeas or 3 cans of canned chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

  • Lemon wedges for serving


Prepare chickpeas (if dried).
Sauté aromatics.
Add spices and tomatoes.
Simmer, garnish, and serve.
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