Chana Masala

Chana masala, also called chole masala, is a vegetarian and vegan Indian comfort food packed with flavor and perfect for dinner (or lunch) any day of the week! It also freezes beautifully, so it works well as a make-ahead freezer meal.

Chana masala is a go-to comfort dish for me. It is simple to fix and gives me the comfort I crave on a chilly night or even a breezy day!


Chana masala originated from the northern parts of India where it’s a staple dish. But it has gained popularity in the past few years because it’s vegan, rich in protein, and simple to make.

Chana masala can also be called chole masala, referring to the kind of garam used in the dish. So if someday you see chole masala on a menu, then rest assured that it is your beloved chana masala.

This dish is typically prepared by cooking chickpeas in an Indian curry paste, like this one on my site. This basic curry paste is the base of many Indian curries, from traditional Indian chicken curry to chickpea curries like this one.


Indian curry paste is made with two kinds of aromatic blends: wet and dry.

  • The wet blend is prepared mainly by grinding onion, ginger, and garlic. Sometimes Thai chili is added to the mix.
  • The dry blend is a variety of whole spices, many of which are also used to make garam masala.


For this recipe, I have simplified the process a bit. I have used garam masala for the spice blend and added some whole spices to give the dish an extra kick.

Also, traditionally the dish uses dry chickpeas, which are soaked overnight and then cooked before the curry paste is added. I am used to that process so it comes naturally to me, but feel free to substitute them with canned chickpeas. That will definitely make the process faster.

On top of this basic recipe, feel free to go crazy and add your own twist to it. Many people like to add coconut or almond milk for a creamier curry. Kale, spinach, or Swiss chard are also great sources of nutrition you can add to the dish.


Serve chana masala with a side of rice or roti, an Indian flatbread, or, if you are in the mood for something healthier, go for whole grains like wild rice or quinoa.


Like many Indian curries, chana masala will keep in the refrigerator for one to two days or can be frozen for up to two months. You can reheat it in the microwave or on a stovetop over medium-high heat. Don’t refreeze it once you’ve frozen and thawed it, or the curry just turns to mush.

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