Indian Chickpea Curry (Channa Masala)

This delicious and authentic Indian Chickpea Curry Recipe, also known as channa masala, is vegetarian comfort food at its best.

vegan indian chickpea curry in a bowl

There are as many channa masala recipes (also known as chickpea masala, kadala curry or chickpea curry) as there are cooks in India. It is wonderful, nourishing vegan comfort food that sticks to your ribs and warms you from the inside. It’s packed with fiber and protein, and is a naturally gluten-free option.

When my mother-in-law makes her version for us, we often eat it for breakfast with pooris (puffy fried whole-wheat flatbreads) or puttu (steamed coconut and rice flour). The smell in my kitchen brings back wonderful family memories.

I love how the chickpeas become thick and super soft. It’s comforting like the best mashed potatoes. We eat ours for dinner more than breakfast, with fresh chapatis (recipe coming soon) or fluffy basmati rice.

Here’s What You Need

Indian Chickpea Curry Ingredients

Prepare for a flavorful journey with these key players:

  • Dried Chickpeas: (aka garbanzo beans)The hearty base, soaked for tenderness.
  • Kosher Salt: Enhancing the chickpeas’ taste.
  • Oil: A blend of 1/3 cup for onions and 1 tsp for spice infusion.
  • Yellow Onion: Softened and golden for a rich foundation.
  • Cumin Seeds: Toasty aroma and deep flavor.
  • Jalapeño, Ginger, Garlic: The trio that kicks in the spice.
  • Garam Masala: Infusing warmth with a hint of curry.
  • Cinnamon: A subtle note of sweetness.
  • Diced Tomatoes: Bringing a juicy, saucy element.
  • Yellow Potatoes: Adding a comforting, starchy touch.
  • Water: The liquid backbone of the curry.
  • Cilantro: (aka coriander) A fresh, herbal finish.

Variations and Substitutions

Explore diverse twists:

  • Canned Chickpeas: Opt for four 15-ounce cans canned chickpeas for a quicker version. Rinse and drain them before adding to the curry. Adjust water quantity as needed, keeping an eye on the stew-like consistency.
  • Spice Level: Adjust jalapeño quantity for milder or spicier kicks. You can also add some red chili powder for a kickier curry sauce.
  • Variations and Substitutions
  • Explore diverse twists to customize your curry:
  • Canned Chickpeas: Opt for convenience with two 15-ounce cans. Rinse and drain before adding, adjusting water as needed.
  • Spice Variations: Include 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder or coriander powder for a warm, earthy note. You can also add 6 cardamom pods, a bay leaf and/or a cinnamon stick. Adjust to taste.
  • Swap Vegetables: You can substitute potatoes with sweet potatoes or 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets. Adjust water and cooking time accordingly.
  • Coconut Chickpea Curry: Swap 2 cups of water for 1 15-oz can coconut milk.
  • Ginger Garlic Paste: Replace ginger and garlic with 2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste. Adjust quantity based on your taste preference.

Grab these Tools

Equip yourself for curry mastery:

  • Pressure Cooker or Dutch Oven: I like to use my Instant pot to pressure cook dry chickpeas, but you could also use the stovetop.
  • Chopping Board and Knife: Essential for onion, jalapeño, and potatoes.
  • Wooden Spoon: Ideal for stirring and flavor blending.
  • Measuring Spoons: To ensure precise spice quantities.
  • Timer: Handy for chickpea cooking and simmering intervals.
Indian chickpea curry on a plate with a spoon

We usually accompany it with a spoonful of cucumber yogurt salad and sometimes Indian mango pickle.

This is my family’s version. I usually just throw things together and adjust to taste, but this time I took the time to measure and make sure it was just right, while keeping it pretty simple so that you could make it without buying a dozen spices.

Making This Indian Chickpea Curry Recipe

I use the quick method for soaking beans 9 times out of 10.  Mostly because I haven’t planned in advance.  I make my chickpeas in a pressure cooker and with it, you can actually skip the soaking altogether, but I don’t.  

See, soaking gets rid of a lot of the indigestible carbohydrate which causes the… er… musical effect of beans.

If you wonder about the salt in the chickpea-cooking step, I’ve been reading about the case for salting beans during cooking and have learned from several authorities that it does not actually make them tough. And now I have perfectly seasoned beans.

So go ahead and salt the water.

vegan indian chickpea curry with whole wheat tortillas and a glass of water

Tips and Notes on This Indian Chickpea Curry Recipe

Take your time with the onions and let them get nicely caramelized – that is the flavour foundation for the whole dish; as with many curries, the onions basically dissolve and become the sauce.

I kept it mild, because I am feeding little kids, but feel free to add another jalapeño (it’s a big batch for just one) or some cayenne (that way you can add small amounts closer toward the end until you get the heat to your liking).

This recipe makes a really big batch, because I like to make it once and eat it all week, plus have some to freeze.  

Feel free to cut the recipe in half, but it is not a quick preparation, so I feel like you should make lots and share or save (or both!).

Warm butter naan with a dish of melted butter.

How to Serve This Indian Chickpea Curry Recipe

Serving up this hearty dish is a breeze. Pair it with complementary toppings or sides to elevate your dining experience.

Chickpea Curry Enhancements

Experiment with these toppings or add-ins:

  • Fresh Cilantro: A burst of freshness to brighten each bite.
  • Lime Juice: Squeeze for a bright kick. Lemon juice works, too.
  • Yogurt Drizzle: Cool down the spice with a dollop of yogurt.
Indian Cucumber Salad.

Side Dishes for Indian Curry

Complete your meal with these sides:

  • Butter Naan: A soft and garlicky bread, perfect for scooping. Garlic Naan Recipe
  • Basmati Rice: Fluffy grains to soak up the flavorful curry. Add some cumin seeds for jeera rice.
  • Cucumber Yogurt Salad: Refreshing yogurt-based side to balance the heat.
  • Roti: soft, whole wheat flatbreads.
  • Paratha: Flaky, layered south-indian flatbreads.
  • Aloo Gobi: Cauliflower Curry is a perfect vegetable side.

Pairing these additions enhances the dining experience, turning your Indian Chickpea Curry into a complete and satisfying meal.

Make Ahead and Storage

Prepping in advance? Here’s how to streamline and store your Indian Chickpea Curry:

  • Meal Prep Ease: Cook chickpeas and sauté onions a day ahead for quicker assembly.
  • Refrigeration: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: Freeze in portions for up to 2-3 months; thaw before reheating.
  • Microwave Reheat: Warm individual servings in the microwave for a quick and convenient meal.

Efficiently plan your meals with these make-ahead and storage tips, ensuring a hassle-free experience whenever you crave a bowl of this flavorful curry.

Easy Butter Chicken - an authentic Indian recipe

My Indian Husband’s Favorite Recipes

Put some of Adarsh’s favorite Indian food recipes on your must-make list:

Chickpea curry with phulka roti on a plate.

Indian Chickpea Curry Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 or more, it makes lots!
Dinner
Indian
Keyword Chana Curry, Chana Masala, Chickpea Curry, Indian Chickpea Curry

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lbs dry chickpeas soaked
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • cup + 1 tsp oil divided use
  • 1 ½ lbs yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 ” piece ginger from fat end
  • ½ head of garlic about 7 cloves
  • 4 tbsp garam masala you may substitute curry powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 yellow potatoes peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups water plus more as needed
  • handful chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Cook the soaked chickpeas covered by 1 1/2 inches of water with 2 tsp kosher salt in a pressure cooker (20 mins) or in rapidly simmering water (1 to 1 1/2 hours) until tender. (See option for canned chickpeas in notes.)
  • Meanwhile, heat 1/3 cup oil in a large stockpot (your biggest) over medium heat.
    Add onions and cook until very soft and deeply golden, about 30 minutes, reducing the heat to low if they start to brown too quickly.
  • Push onions to one side of the pot and add the remaining teaspoon of oil the space you made.  
    Add the cumin seeds to the oil and increase heat to medium.
    When cumin is toasty (1-2 minutes), stir back into the onions along with jalapeño, ginger and garlic.
  • When garlic smells fragrant (another minute or so), stir in garam masala, cinnamon and salt to coat other ingredients.
    Add tomatoes and cook the tomatoes down for about 5 minutes (you should see the oil bubbling up to the surface).
  • Stir in the potatoes, cooked chickpeas and water.
    If mixture is quite dry, add another couple of cups of water (you want it to be fairly loose and stew-like, so that the potatoes will be submerged and simmer; it will thicken as it cooks).
    Cook, uncovered, until potato is tender (about another 30 minutes, but you can simmer it longer – it only gets better).  
    Add more water if at any point it is getting dry (and if you add too much water, simply simmer it down).
    Taste and add more salt at the end if needed. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

Notes

Ginger Garlic Paste: Replace ginger and garlic with 2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste. Adjust quantity based on your taste preference.
Canned Chickpeas: 1 1/2 lbs of dried chickpeas yields about 4 15-ounce cans. To use canned chickpeas, just drain them and jump ahead to the onion

Nutrition

Calories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 13gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 1039mgPotassium: 854mgFiber: 12gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 395IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 98mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Chana Curry, Chana Masala, Chickpea Curry, Indian Chickpea Curry

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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Kim
Kim
8 months ago

5 stars
My all time favorite chickpea curry recipe. Your Indian curries are just the best!

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