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Dec 9, 2008 01:52 PM

Chana Masala [split from General Topics]

i don't always make such an effort for lunch, but having spent the past 8 years in Southern Cali, this was the first really cold day i've experienced in a LONG time... it made me feel like doing something nice & comforting for myself :)

the recipe is pretty easy, but not necessarily quick. however, it's honestly the best one i've ever found - i discovered it on a vegan blog last year, and apparently it was a slight modification of a recipe originally posted on Orangette, and then i made one or two adjustments beyond that. it's definitely a keeper.

Chana Masala
Serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, divided
A pinch of cayenne [or more to taste]
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
lemon wedges, optional

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. The more color, the more complex the flavor of the final dish.

Reduce heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the water has evaporated. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves. Add the salt.

Raise heat to medium, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, add 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes.

Add 2 Tbsp water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbsp water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the yogurt. Garnish with remaining cilantro, and lemon wedges, if desired.

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  1. Thanks. That sounds great. Too much work just for lunch but definitely for dinner and then maybe leftovers.

    6 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      yeah, like i said, i'm very fortunate to work from home...i get to indulge random midday urges to play in the kitchen :)

      i probably don't have to tell you this, but it's one of those recipes that benefits from a day or two in the fridge. gives the flavors more time to meld & deepen, so the leftovers taste even better.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        I love recipes like this where I'm all set for a couple of days for lunch. Plus, I'll bet it freezes well, too. Thanks!

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          hey ghg, to change up a bit, try adding freshly ground fenugrrek in with the masala, and nice chopped spinach.

          or curry leaves (also good with cabbage and mustard seeds, and a similar masala spice blend and technique as the channa masala, sans tomatoes).

          1. re: alkapal

            alka, i hear you on the spinach i actually ate it with a side of spinach & cauliflower with curry spices.

            thx for the other ideas - i might try the fenugreek or curry leaves one of these days.

              1. re: alkapal

                thanks alka, you rock :) i've never seen SMTC before...i have the feeling it's going to be one of my new favorite food sites. i'll try their subzi recipe soon - sounds delish!

      2. Wow, such a low-fat recipe and you say it's the best you've tried? I'll try to make it sometime this week for sure. I made a considerably richer dal makhani for dinner tonight, which was wonderful.

        3 Replies
        1. re: operagirl

          i love Indian food, but so many of the traditional recipes contain way too much fat. i just don't see the need for all that ghee, cream, or full-fat coconut milk in some cases. let me know how it turns out for you if you end up making it!

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Well, I made chana masala, but I used a recipe from an Indian lady's website,


            I doubled the recipe, used a 28oz can of tomatoes instead of two large tomatoes, and used two whole jalepenos instead of two teaspoons of chopped green chilis.

            So, it turned out so scorching hot that I ended up adding 1/4C of cream at the end, which dulled the spiciness to a perfect level. Those darn jalepenos are so unpredictable!

            Anyhow, the chana masala went over very well with my friends who came over for dinner. Everybody went back for seconds, some even thirds!

            1. re: operagirl

              i find serranos are a little more predictable. but, i do try to get the smallish green chilies from an indian grocery.

        2. I knew this would be good and it was. Even my children asked for seconds. Thanks--this will be part of a regular dish here. Nothing beats healthy and tasty.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            chowser, i just saw this reply, 6 months after you posted it - better late than never, i guess! anyway, i'm glad you all enjoyed it :)

          2. YES! YESSSSS! I have all these ingredients! Indian dinner, here I come.

            1. Yes, this recipe was also featured on the Wednesday Chef. It really is a delicious and healthy lunch or dinner. It's also a great recipe to double and freeze the leftovers.