When I set out to make Chana Masala, I wasn’t looking for a truly ‘authentic’ Indian dish, I just wanted something delicious and cheap and this hit the spot with its slightly spicy and sour flavors. Although Chana Masala may sound complicated, it’s basically just chickpeas cooked in tomato sauce with some Indian spices.
I bought some Naan to eat along with this which is excellent when dipped into the stew but I also found that it was great the next day inside a piece of pita bread and eaten as a sandwich. It would also go really well spooned on top of a pile of basmati rice. As with most stews and one-pot meals, it was much better the next day after the ingredients had time to meld together and develop a greater depth of flavor. I would recommend making it at least a day before you want to eat it and just heating it up as needed as it will last for about a week in the refrigerator.
This is also a recipe that is really easy to improvise. If you don’t have one or two (or more) or these specific spices, it will still turn out pretty wonderful. Also, the measurements are just a rough estimate and would be ok to improvise also as long as you keep the ratios generally consistent.
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Chana Masala)
(this list looks long but it’s mostly just spices!)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it, or omit it all together for less spice)
1 tsp. ground tumeric
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garam masala (If you only use one spice in this recipe, use this one- See Note*)
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes with juices
2 cans chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1 lemon (juiced)
1. Heat oil in large pot. Saute onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add spices and cook for another 5 minutes then add tomatoes and juices. Simmer for about 30 minutes and reduce until desired consistency depending on how thick you want the stew. Add chickpeas, then salt and lemon juice, to taste
Note*- Garam Masala is a mixture of Indian spices that is common in many Indian dishes and probably the most important spice in this recipe as it contains a complex variety of ingredients that the average home cook probably wouldn’t have in his or his pantry. Common mixtures contain dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, tumeric, coriander and star anise. You can find Garam Masala at most good (aka well-stocked) grocery stores and you don’t have to go to a specialty Indian market to get it.