Quick & Easy Indian: Chana Masala

Chana Masala

While I get caught up on this blog, I’m taking requests for specific recipes or types of recipes – this one’s for “Lars” & Brent, who needed more easy gluten-free high fiber dishes. Indian food is very good for that sort of thing, so I’ll be sending them a spice care package soon and filling in some quick & easy recipes here in the meantime.

This is a fairly common Indian dish that is also accessible for picky Americans since it vaguely resembles baked beans. In this version, tamarind paste in the sauce gives the sweet and tangy effect, though this dish is healthier, since it doesn’t use tons of sugar or molasses or bacon. And of course the spices keep it well on the savory side – this isn’t a syrupy-sweet dish at all.

You can serve it hot or cold, so it’s easy to make ahead and easy to serve any time of the year. Since I can keep all of the ingredients in our pantry, I make it as a fast dinner fairly often and find the flavor improves when I eat any leftovers the next day for lunch.

Once you have the spices on hand, the only tricky ingredient to find is the tamarind paste. I get it in Indian grocery shops on Devon in Chicago, where it’s thick and dark and sticky like molasses. But you can also get it in bricks of the dried fruit that you dissolve in water or find less concentrated frozen pulp in Latin American sections of grocery stores.  I would use that straight and add extra if it seems too bland.

Masala Chana (Curried Chickpeas)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1″ piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh green chilli, chopped (I use a serrano pepper)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground tumeric
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. fresh tomatoes, peeled & chopped (or ~1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes)
3 Tbsp. Tamarind paste (see ingredient note above)
1/2 c. water
1 large or 2 regular size cans chickpeas
1/2 tsp. garam masala (Indian spice mix)
garnish: finely chopped onion & fresh chillies

1. Heat oil & cumin seeds in a large heavy saucepan until they brown or begin to sputter. Add onion, garlic, ginger & chilli and stir fry five minutes.
2. Stir in ground spices and salt and fry 3-4 minutes. This is about the only point that you have to watch for burning. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Dilute tamarind paste in water and stir into tomato mixture with drained chickpeas and garam masala. Cover and simmer gently 15 minutes.

It makes a good side dish or a good main dish – probably about 4 servings as a main dish, depending on your appetite. It’s ok without the tamarind paste but the sauce won’t have the proper sweet & sour tang.

Note: if the photos below doesn’t appear, you can view it on flickr here

Masala Spices Chopped Veggies
Masala Chana - Spices Masala Chana - Fresh Ingredients
Frying Spices Cooking Veggies
Masala Chana - Step 1 Masala Chana - Step 2
Adding Seasoning Finished Dish
Masala Chana - Step 3 Chana Masala

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sapna says:

    Looks delicious! I tried channa masala too sometime back. Do check it out


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