Vegan Indian Recipes: Spicy Chana Masala

October 26, 2016
A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a local, organic spice company that made and sold a bunch of pre-packaged spice blends. One of the blends was an Indian favorite called garam masala. This is made up of an array of warning spices--cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc. I always find myself using this combination of flavors in anything from oatmeal to breads and desserts, so I decided to give this blend a try. One of the serving suggestions was to add the garam masala into the traditional Indian dish called Chana Masala. Chana Masala is a simple meal filled with complex flavors. It is the result of stewing chickpeas, tomatoes, and a bunch of spices together. When I first learned how to make Chana Masala, I think I made it four days in a row because of how quick and cheap it was to make during a busy and broke period of my life. I usually serve this over rice and and top it with avocado to tone down the flavors. (I was lucky to find a decently priced avocado with the current drought in Mexico!) When I ran out of the initial garam masala that I had bought, I ended up making my own blend. I love trying new Indian foods because the majority of the meals are naturally vegetarian or vegan and always contain ample amounts of beneficial spices. Plus, it is comforting to know that cancer is virtually non existent in India, and we are all aware how this relates directly to what you put inside of your body.
Vegan Indian Recipes: Chana Masala

Vegan Indian Recipes: Spicy Chana Masala

utensils YIELDS 2-3 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
  • 1 (15 oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 inch knob fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 small purple onion, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground corriander
  • 1-2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • For the Garam Masala:
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon corriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 8-10 cardamom pod seeds
  • 2 dry bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
        graphic for recipe card


1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil. When this heats up, add the diced onion until it turns golden (about a minute or two).
2. In a food processor, add the jalapeno, cilantro, ginger, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add to the pot with the onion and stir.
3. Add the ground cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and salt to the pot and stir well.
4. Pour in the stewed tomatoes and chickpeas. I used fire roasted stewed tomatoes. Make sure you strain the water from the chickpeas as you don't want this to be like a soup, more like a stew.
5. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let sit for about 25 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
6. While this is cooking, add the ingredients for the garam masala into a pre-heated, dry skillet. Let the spices toast for a few minutes, until you can smell the fragrance. Remove from the stove, peel the cardamom seeds, and add everything to a food processor. Blend until pure and smooth. You will end up with about 3-4 tablespoons of garam masala, of which you will only need 1 tablespoon for this recipe.
7. When there is not much water or liquid left in the pot with the chickpeas, the stew is complete. If you want it more liquid-y, you can add water to your liking.
8. Add the 1 tablespoon garam masala, the lemon juice, and the sugar to the stew and stir well. As much sugar you use is up to you. I have made this using no sugar and enjoyed the spice it brought, but I do prefer to tone it down and bring out the sweetness of the cinnamon and nutmeg using brown sugar.
9. Serve over rice and top with fresh cilantro.

Also by Lauren: Rosemary and Sage Pumpkin Raviolis

Related: Curried Cabbage and Potatoes

Indian-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

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Photos: Lauren Sacerdote

Lauren is a homebody who likes to spend time with her cat, explore new ideas in the kitchen, relax in the sun with a good book, and promote healthy living to friends and family.


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