Curried Chickpeas ~ Chana Masala

These curried chickpeas are an easy, inexpensive meal made with canned chickpeas that are simmered in a spiced, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, and onion sauce and served over rice. It also happens to be vegan and gluten-free.

Two bowls of rice and curried chickpeas (chana masala) with two forks and a yellow cloth on the side.

These easy curried chickpeas are a superb back-pocket recipe for busy weeknights. They’re also vegan and gluten-free, though you’d never guess it from the rich, creamy sauce.–Angie Zoobkoff

Curried Chickpeas

Two bowls of rice and curried chickpeas (chana masala) with two forks and a yellow cloth on the side.
You can use other canned beans here—try lima or red kidney beans. The curry sauce can also be cooked with firm vegetables, such as potatoes, cauliflower, or broccoli—these will go into the pan first, then the ground spices along with a splash of water, and lastly, the curry sauce can be poured on top and cooked until the vegetables are tender. The blended sauce has a creamy consistency without the need to add any cream.

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins
2 to 4 servings
579 kcal
4.50 / 2 votes
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For the ginger-garlic paste

  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic

For the curried chickpeas

  • 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 2 medium (about 10 oz total) onions sliced 1/2-inch (12-mm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • Cold water
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder* (regular chili powder will work)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • One (14-ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Cooked rice


Make the ginger-garlic paste

  • In a small bowl, stir together the ginger and garlic, mashing with the back of a spoon to thoroughly combine.

    TESTER TIP: If you’re making a larger batch of the ginger-garlic paste to keep a stash on hand, blitz the peeled and chopped ginger and garlic in a blender along with a little cold water to turn the blades until it makes a smooth paste. Scrape it into a clean jar, add enough oil to cover the surface (any oil will do), and keep in the fridge for up to a couple weeks, topping off the oil as needed.

Make the curried chickpeas

  • In a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and cook the onions, stirring constantly, until they start to turn golden brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes more.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a few seconds, then add the tomato paste and continue to cook until well blended, about 1 minute more.
  • Remove from the heat, carefully move the mixture to a blender or food processor, add enough cold water to just cover the mixture (probably about 1/2 cup), and then blend until smooth.

    TESTER TIP: If using a blender, leave the center cap open so the steam from the mixture can release. Otherwise let the mixture cool for a few minutes prior to blending.

  • In the same saucepan over high heat, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and add the turmeric, chili powder, coriander, and cayenne, if using. Cook, stirring, until the spices change color, 10 to 15 seconds. Carefully add 3 to 4 tablespoons of cold water to the pan and continue to cook until the water has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

    TESTER TIP: You can easily substitute your fave store-bought curry spice blend for the mixed ground spices.

  • Add the chickpeas and mix well, then cook until the chickpeas are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in the sauce from the blender and season with salt. Rinse out the blender with 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water and add this to the pan as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.
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*What's the difference between chili powder and chile powder?

If you're unsure of the difference and end up using the wrong one, you're going to be pretty surprised with the end results, spice-wise. Chile is just the pepper. Chili is the amalgamation of tomato, beans, spices, and sometimes beef that we all love. And so, chili spice is a powdered mixture of various things—chile pepper, cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, oregano. It can be quite hot but it has more ingredients than just chile peppers. 

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portion, including riceCalories: 579kcal (29%)Carbohydrates: 75g (25%)Protein: 15g (30%)Fat: 26g (40%)Saturated Fat: 18g (113%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 639mg (28%)Potassium: 649mg (19%)Fiber: 13g (54%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 478IU (10%)Vitamin C: 12mg (15%)Calcium: 131mg (13%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is an extremely flavorful curry. It’s thick, not too spicy, and so easy to make. A perfect vegetarian meal with a bowl of rice. Really comforting!

I served this wonderfully spiced vegetarian curry over brown rice with a side of slow-simmered collard greens. I was initially drawn to the recipe because of its cooking method; I’ve made a variety of curries, but this is the first one I’ve cooked where the recipe instructs you to puree the initial sauce until smooth before adding it back to the pot with the spices and chickpeas. The results were creamy without the need to add any cream. I really felt that the results were restaurant-quality!

The ginger-garlic paste really adds a depth of flavor to the sauce; I used a regular chili powder here.

For the garlic paste portion of the recipe, I tried to make just what I needed for the recipe. I used about 1-inch of peeled fresh ginger and 4 peeled garlic cloves. I actually blitzed it in the mini food processor with about 2 tablespoons of water. This method worked very well. The recipe serves 4 people perfectly.

Overall, this is a lovely recipe and the nice thing is most of the ingredients were already in the house. I recommend serving this dish with a dry Riesling or even a glass of dry bubbly.

Originally published February 22, 2020


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