HealthWise: Tasty Wholesome Chana Masala


Chana masala served with naan

Who hasn’t heard of Chana Masala (chickpea curry). It’s everyone’s favorite. We don’t fail to order it when we go to the Indian restaurant even though we can easily make it at home. It’s not just delicious but it is also healthy and Vegan! What else could you want?!

So we decided to make some chana masala at home. This is our own recipe. You can try it too. It’s easy!

Most of the ingredients are easily available– the spices are available in Indian stores. The quantities/measurements are essentially estimates. They can be varied depending on taste etc.


  • 1200 gms of cooked chana or chickpeas (soak chickpeas overnight then pressure cook). You can also use canned chickpeas.
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4 Roma tomatoes- can use any kind of tomatoes.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (it depends on your taste). I don’t use too much because it can overwhelm the flavor of the rest of the spices.
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp Pav bhaji masala
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 badi elaichi (black cardamom)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp amchur (dry mango) powder (for sourness). can also use pomegranate seeds.
  • fresh chopped cilantro- the more the better
  • salt to taste
  • chili powder to taste (optional– I don’t add since there’s a lot of flavor already in the dish.)
  • 2 tbsp oil – we use canola oil at home for cooking
  • finely chopped red onion for garnishing.
  • a slice of fresh lime and 1 green chili (optional) In India chana and other North Indian curries are traditionally served with a slice of fresh lime and green chili and sliced red onion.



How to:

Grind to paste the red onion along with ginger and garlic. Puree the tomatoes as well and keep aside. Heat oil in a saucepan, add cumin, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom– fry till they change color and emit a nice aroma on medium heat–few seconds (don’t burn!). Add the onion paste and cook till done (the raw smell is gone and oil leaves the side of the pan). Add the tomato puree and cook, stirring once in a while for about 5 minutes. Add the ground spices– coriander, turmeric, asafoetida (pinch), dry mango powder, Garam masala and Pav Bhaji masala. Cook for half a minute. Then add the cooked chick peas along with a cup of water or more depending on how thick/thin you want the gravy. Then add salt — I don’t have a definite measurement. I always adjust depending on the taste. Stir, cover and simmer on low medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Finally, add finally chopped coriander and stir. Garnish with more cilantro and serve with naan bread or rice!

As I mentioned above– finely chopped onions, fresh lime juice can be used as additional garnish. They bring a juicy, sour crunch to the end product which has to be experienced to be believed 😀



Nutrition value: 

  • Chick Peas: great source of complex carbs (low GI value– bring up your glucose levels slowly), protein, fiber (soluble and insoluble), magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, folate, Vit B9.
  • Onions: packed with nutrients and antioxidants. May boost heart health and digestive health.
  • Tomatoes: contain the antioxidant lycopene which has been associated with reduced risk of heart ds and cancer. Also good source of potassium, folate, Vit C and K.
  • Cumin: antioxidants and antiinflammatory properties. Help with diarrhea, antibacterial and antiparasitic.
  • Turmeric: many many benefits and uses– antiseptic, antioxidant,antiinflammatory.
  • Garlic: Many benefits: nutritious, antiinflammatory and digestive properties. Great for heart health.
  • Ginger: many benefits: settles upset stomach, prevents nausea. Antiinflammatory- pain reliever. Lower blood sugar (antidiabetic) lowers cholesterol levels, improves heart health.
  • Bay leaf: enhance flavor without adding salt. Helps with digestion.
  • Asafoetida: prevents bloating.
  • Black Cardamom: antioxidant and digestive properties.
  • Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves): helps with digestion, prevents bloating. reportedly also helps maintain healthy glucose and lipid levels.


Important Note: Indian cooking involves using a multitude of spices in daily cooking rather than consuming them as supplements. As a physician I’d recommend consuming spices this way rather than taking them in the form of pills/supplements as the benefits are two fold– they make the food flavorful, aromatic and provide the additional benefits as well.

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