Stovetop: Chana Masala, Curried Chickpeas Made with Our Punjabi Masala

October 24, 2022

Stovetop: Chana Masala, Curried Chickpeas Made with Our Punjabi Masala
Stovetop: Chana Masala, Curried Chickpeas Made with Our Punjabi Masala

Cooked chickpeas in a spicy broth is classic North Indian fare. These days, most folks have heard of chana masala. But, how to make it at home? Why not just order in or buy it frozen? For my household, it's about taste and health. We want authentic like our moms' made it, but without the extra oil and unnecessary additives (especially salt). And when you learn to make this iconic dish at home likely you won't need to eat out as often. We at Indian As Apple Pie are sharing our moms' secrets and made it super simple! 

While I do offer several chana masala recipes completely from scratch, this one is made with a critical short cut - my pre-made Punjabi Masala curry starter. What most don't realize is that the 'curry' or the gravy in chana masala starts with a combination of onion-ginger-garlic-turmeric. This combination of ingredients is cooked over a low flame until everything breaks down to give you a delicious gravy. How finely minced these ingredients are to start with will determine how smooth the curry is after it is cooked. Why some of us prefer to process these ingredients in a food processor first. We then add water during cooking so these ingredients break down completely. Some folks just roughly chop up their ingredients, cook them, and then grind the curry down a bit with an immersion blender to get the right consistency at the end. I've done all this for you in our jarred sauce. Click here for more information on curry vs. masala. 

This sauce is made with no additional spices or salt so that you can turn it into anything you want. In this case, because we are cooking Chana Masala (the dish) we will use chana masala (the spice). A really good chana masala spice blend has a slew of ingredients including dried pomegranate seeds to give you the right layers of tartness that just using garam masala will not give you. Remember, we are trying to get you to restaurant quality! Trust me, every flavor layer matters. 

In this recipe, I also use dried chickpeas. Cooking from dried legumes enables your dish and beans to absorb a touch more flavor, but either work. Keep in mind that 2 cups dried chickpeas = about 5 cups cooked - so substitute 2 standard 15-ounce cans for the recipe below. Cooking from dried takes about 60 - 75 minutes on the stove and 30 - 40 minutes in an Instant Pot versus a fraction of that time for canned, which also use less water (see notes below). 

If you want to make this recipe from scratch, pull out my cookbooks: page 85 in The Indian Slow Cooker and page 152 in Indian For Everyone. 

[[ recipeID=recipe-8l9yb56pr, title=Stovetop: Chana Masala, Curried Chickpeas Made with Our Punjabi Masala ]]

RECIPE CARD: Just double click, store it in your phone in an album labeled IAAP for Indian As Apple Pie and you'll always have my recipe and a shopping list handy! 

Chana Chaat: Top a bowl of steaming chana masala with a dollop of our Tamarind Chutney and garnish with chopped onion and chiles. Enjoy as is, over a toasted & buttered hamburger bun, in a pita, or on a slice of roti or naan. This is what we call North Indian street food. Simple, wholesome, and delicious! 

Looking for other delicious chickpea recipes?
Instant Pot Khata Imlee Chana - Tangy Tamarind Chickpeas  

Your One and Done package includes:

  •  2 cups kabuli chana (white chickpeas)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon chana masala)

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Stovetop: Chana Masala, Curried Chickpeas Made with Our Punjabi Masala

Servings: 5 cups


  • Prep Time: 0 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 0 mins




  • 2 cups kabuli chana (dried white chickpeas) or kala chana (black chickpeas) picked over and washed*
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 medium tomato, pureed or grated
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1-4 Thai, Serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and minced
  • 1 cup Indian As Apple Pie Punjabi Masala
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons chana masala
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 7 cups water, for cooking
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


  1. Soak the chickpeas in ample boiling, hot water for at least 1 hour or in room temperature water at least 6 hours to overnight. See notes below on cooking chickpeas ahead of time or using canned. * You can also substitute our black chickpeas for a heartier texture, though this dish would be called kala chana. Chana masala refers to a white chickpea dish. 
  2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once hot, add the hing and the cumin seeds. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the seeds turn reddish brown. 
  3. Add the tomato, tomato paste, and fresh chiles. Stir and cook for 1 minute, breaking down the tomato paste with a spatula. Prefer less heat? Use 1/2 a chile or simply leave it out. 
  4. Add the Punjabi masala, garam masala, coriander, red chile, chana masala, and salt. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Another opportunity here to reduce the heat - cut back on the red chile powder. 
  5. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and cooking water. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down, place the lid on the pot slightly ajar to release steam, and simmer for 75 minutes until the chickpeas soften, stirring. If using canned use 2 (15 oz. cans) of chickpeas (about 5 cups), 3-4 cups of water and simmer for about 30 minutes until the flavors pull together. 
  6. Add the cilantro and serve over basmati rice or with Indian bread like roti or naan. If you want to thicken this up, break down a few of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon or an immersion blender. 


Notes: Dried chickpeas take time to soften, why I cook them up ahead of time. Make them in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop along with just water. Remember, you can always refrigerate or freeze these chickpeas in 5-cup batches to pull out and use more easily. They will last 1 week in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

Or, use 5 cups of canned, drained chickpeas, 2 (15 oz.) cans. 2 cups of dried chickpeas when soaked 1 hour in hot, boiling water = 4 cups and = 4 1/4 cups when soaked overnight in room temperature water. Cooked, you'll have about 5 cups.