Healthy and Delicious Chana Masala

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on July 26, 2012

Whenever the husband and I go out for Indian food, we almost always order Chana Masala. We almost always order Palak Paneer too, but that’s for a different post 🙂

Why Chana Masala?

Because between the chickpeas, spices and curry, you really can’t go wrong. It’s hearty, filling, and dependable.

Of course, lower quality restaurants can still mess up Chana Masala by smothering the delicate chickpeas and spices with too much oil, or making it much too “spicy-hot” instead of “spicy-spice” (hopefully you know what I mean by that!)

Traditionally Chana Masala has quite a bit of oil in it anyway, but without that, it can actually be a very healthy and well rounded dish. I added some potatoes for starch, fresh cilantro for color, and a bit of nonfat Greek yogurt for an added creaminess that just takes this to a whole new level.

The Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4-5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4-5 baby red potatoes, diced
  • 6-8 Tbs plain non fat Greek yogurt, optional
The Directions
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Step 1: Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil and red onion and cook, stirring frequently until it is deeply caramelized. Reduce the heat to low.
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Step 2: Add the garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until the cumin seeds pop and the spices are fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds.
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Step 3: Pour in the juice and the tomatoes from the can and crush them in the pot with a potato masher. Add the salt and the potatoes.
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Step 4: Raise the heat to medium-high, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cilantro and cayenne, and all of the rest of the spices, and simmer the sauce until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Add the chickpeas, and stir to combine.
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Step 5: Keep simmering the curry on low until the chickpeas and potatoes soften (about 30 minutes). Once the sauce thickens and reduces down a bit, it will look like this:
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Step 6: Serve and top with cilantro.
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This is how I served it to the husband. But for me…
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I added the yogurt.
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The husband isn’t really a yogurt person – which I have never understood honestly. I mean, how can you not like yogurt, especially with a spicy dish like this one?
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The husband is also super super picky about Chana Masala, in that, he never thought a homemade “healthier” version would taste as good as the restaurant. So imagine how awesome it was when he told me that this recipe was restaurant quality! Hooray!
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I smiled as I watched the yogurt melt over the chickpeas before I started eating.
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It was “lick-your-bowl-clean” good 🙂
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Healthy and Delicious Chana Masala

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per serving: 227

Fat per serving: 3.3g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 227 Calories, 3.3g Fat, 430.2mg Sodium, 44.2g Carbs, 7.3g Fiber, 7.5g Sugar, 9.9g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4-5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4-5 baby red potatoes, diced
  • 6-8 Tbs plain non fat Greek yogurt, optional

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil and red onion and cook, stirring frequently until it is deeply caramelized. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until the cumin seeds pop and the spices are fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the juice and the tomatoes from the can and crush them in the pot with a potato masher. Add the salt and the potatoes.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cilantro and cayenne, and all of the rest of the spices, and simmer the sauce until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Add the chickpeas, and stir to combine.
  5. Keep simmering the curry on low until the chickpeas and potatoes soften (about 30 minutes).
  6. Serve and top with cilantro and yogurt.
http://pickyeaterblog.com/healthy-and-delicious-chana-masala/

 

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings July 27, 2012 at 5:24 am

My hubby to be doesn’t like yogurt either. I don’t get it. I won’t tell him when yogurt is in things because he says he can taste it. He can’t- silly mind games!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

Haha I’ve done that before too and I totally agree – if I don’t tell him it’s yogurt he doesn’t know (but sometimes he knows that something is “different”) 🙂

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eisha July 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

Love it! Next on my list to try 🙂
And I love your “how can you not like yogurt?” – I would have the same exact reaction. Yogurt and chana masala are so perfect together!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

Yay! Can’t wait to hear what you think Eisha! And I totally agree – yogurt gives the perfect cool quality to the hot & spicy Chana Masala 🙂

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Mina Joshi July 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

Looks really delicious. Following your step by step pictures – I was getting hungrier by the minute.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 31, 2012 at 9:51 am

Thanks Mina! I’m sure you will love this recipe!

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Trish August 2, 2012 at 11:26 am

I love chana masala but never make it at home, mainly because I don’t know how. Something tells me your recipe is awesome. Bookmarking this one for sure. Hope all is well and hope to see you soon 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

Aw thanks so much Trish!! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you. And yes – will definitely see you soon!

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Meenakshi August 3, 2012 at 3:59 am

Love the way you’ve put step by step picture and guided us through the preparation. Just a small tip / suggestion. When you boil chickpeas at home, add 1 or 2 tea bags and pressure cook the normal way. This adds a little dark brown color to your chickpeas but doesn’t affect the taste. Go ahead with the same recipe. It works best with bhature.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

That’s a really interesting tip, thanks for sharing Meenakshi!

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Kathy Steger August 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Chickpeas and potatoes 🙂 enough said 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

haha totally 🙂 enjoy!

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Elizabeth August 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

Yum! They served Chana at my brother’s wedding. Can’t wait to try it at home.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

That’s awesome! We served Chana during one of the events at my wedding too 🙂 It’s one of those great staples that’s just always delicious. I’m sure you’ll love this version of the original!

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Kelly December 27, 2012 at 8:52 am

Hi! I stumbled onto your blog from Gina’s @Skinnytaste.com and thank goodness! My fiance and I are huge indian food lovers, but living in the Memphis, TN – we don’t really have a lot of options. I have been trying for months to find good, authentic recipes for some of our favorite dishes that would also be healthy (wedding is only 3 months away)! So Thank You for having such great recipes and blog. I am only a little sad that I didn’t discover it earlier, when I was working out in Walnut Creek CA…..

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 7, 2013 at 7:41 am

Hi Kelly!! It’s so nice to meet you, and thanks so much for your kind words about my blog! I can’t wait to hear how you and your fiance like this Chana Masala recipe – you’ll have to let me know how it turns out. Too bad you’re not in the Bay Area anymore, you’ll have to let me know if you end up coming back for a visit. Happy new year btw! 🙂

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Kelly January 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

The Chana Masala was a huge success, although a little chunkier than yours! I will have to work on my technique! Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 14, 2013 at 11:47 pm

That’s so great Kelly! Chunky Chana Masala is totally ok too 🙂 Glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe!

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Lucy February 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I’m a terrible cook. Mine turned out really chunky and undercooked yet I mananged to burn the bottom of my pot too. 🙁 Also the canned tomatoes taste tin-ny.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Hi Lucy, I’m so sorry to hear that! It sounds like you ended up cooking this on too-high heat – which is why the bottom burnt but the entire recipe wasn’t actually cooked. Next time, try cooking it on medium/low heat – and stir it frequently so that all the moisture from the bottom doesn’t get absorbed by the heat (which also leads to the bottom burning). The canned tomatoes will taste tinny if they aren’t cooked through properly, and the type of canned tomato you buy is important. Make sure to buy organic, non-GMO, BPA-free lined cans – then the tomatoes won’t have a strange/canned/tinny taste to them. Hope that helps, and I hope you keep cooking! Practice makes perfect – I promise, I had many mishaps in the kitchen when I was learning how to cook! Good luck, and keep me posted on how things go!

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Chitra September 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

This looks great, I can’t way to try it. I’m counting my calories and I was just wondering what the serving size for this recipe is. Thanks, Chitra

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Hi Chitra! So this recipe makes 6 servings, so the serving size is 1/6 of the Chana Masala + 1 Tbsp yogurt. Hope that helps! Can’t wait to hear how you like this recipe!

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Kristen May 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hi! Are cardamom pods just in the spice section?? And do you have a recipe for Palak Paneer?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Hi Kristen! Yes – you can get cardamom pods in most spice sections at the grocery store. They are usually right next to the bottles of ground cardamom. Hope that helps! I don’t have a recipe for Palak Paneer yet, but it’s definitely on my list of recipes I’d like to “healthify” – so stay tuned!

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Deb March 23, 2015 at 3:33 pm

This sounds great! Can’t wait to try it. The pictures are beautiful too!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 23, 2015 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Deb! This is one of our favorite recipes – I hope you love it as much as we do!

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Dhaval April 16, 2015 at 7:03 pm

How would you make this recipe toddler friendly for an 18 month old?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 17, 2015 at 5:41 am

Hi Dhaval! Honestly, I’d make it the exact same way – but maybe just omit the cayenne pepper. When I make it for our family, I make it exactly as the recipe says but I don’t add in the cayenne. Once everything is cooked, I separate out Layla’s portion in a bowl, and then I add in the cayenne pepper (to the pot) for us so we still get a spicy meal. When I give it to Layla, I mix it with a little bit of yogurt and she absolutely loves it! Hope that helps!

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Dhaval April 17, 2015 at 5:57 am

thanks! so you leave the garam masala in?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 17, 2015 at 6:13 am

Yup I leave the garam masala in! The garam masala I use isn’t like hot-spicy — so it just adds a wonderful depth of flavor and Layla really likes it. I add it to her khichdi too and it works great!

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