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Up close bowl of chana masala over jasmine rice

Quick Chana Masala

A quick and easy authentic chana masala recipe that's naturally vegan but totally loaded with flavor. Comes together in about 20 minutes and made mostly from pantry staples for a simple but delicious, healthy Indian dinner.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword chana masala, indian chickpea curry, quick chana masala
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 253kcal


  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil like avocado oil or ghee, if not vegan
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste or fresh garlic and ginger See Note
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds See Note
  • 4 black peppercorns See Note
  • 2 cardamom pods See Note
  • 1 cinnamon stick See Note
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • cayenne powder to taste
  • salt
  • 1 14- ounce can chickpeas drained


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until softened and golden but not burned, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of water or so if necessary to prevent burning.
  • Stir in the cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, peppercorns, salt, and ginger-garlic paste. Stir constantly and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the tomato paste and all spices; stir. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until tomato paste is caramelized, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture will turn a deeper red color. Add 1 tablespoon of water or so if necessary to prevent burning.
  • Add water to create a thick gravy, starting with about 1/2 cup, and adding more depending on how saucy you like your chana masala. Stir in the drained chickpeas and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until chickpeas are softened. Taste and add more cayenne powder and/or salt to taste.
  • Serve over steamed basmati rice and with naan. Garnish with fresh cilantro.


If you don't have a ginger-garlic paste, use 1/2 tablespoon of fresh minced garlic and 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger.
If you don't have...
  • cinnamon stick, replace it with the tiniest pinch of ground cinnamon
  • cumin seeds, replace them with 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • coriander pods, replace them with a teeny tiny pinch of ground cardamom 
  • peppercorns, replace them with a few grinds of fresh pepper


Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 316mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 285IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2.4mg | Net Carbs: 14g