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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Vegan Chana Masala

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This Vegan Chana Masala tastes like something you’d order from a fantastic Indian restaurant. It’s a healthy, gluten-free, naturally vegan, yet still rich and flavorful with the perfect amount of heat. 

vegan chana masala recipe, served in a black bowl with tomatoes and onions as garnishes on the side. top view.

Ok you guys. This Vegan Chana Masala recipe might be one of my favorite Indian recipes of all time. I’ve made a lot of versions of Chana Masala in the past, and actually posted a pretty good recipe on my blog a couple years ago, but I never felt like it was the “perfect” Chana Masala… until now! This recipe tastes just like the Chana Masala you’d get in a fantastic Indian restaurant, but the best part is it’s super healthy for you! It doesn’t use any cream or butter, it’s 100% vegan and gluten free. It’s rich, flavorful, with just the right amount of heat and spice. And it’s ridiculously easy to make.

Kitchen Tools and Equipment You’ll Need to Make Vegan Chana Masala

vegan chana masala recipe, served in a black bowl.

What makes this Vegan Chana Masala healthy?

  • Plant-Based Protein: One serving of this Chana Masala has just under 10 grams of plant-based protein. 
  • Low-Calorie: 1 cup of traditional chana masala can run you upwards of 400 calories. But this recipe has only about 230 calories per serving thanks to using less oil and making the tomato based curry sauce rich with tons of spices!
  • High Fiber: Chickpeas are high in fiber. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol thus decreasing the risk of heart disease. 
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Chickpeas are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. The tomatoes in this dish provide lycopene (a potent antioxidant), Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate and Vitamin K.

How to Make This Vegan Chana Masala – Step by Step

  1. Heat oil in a large pot on high heat.
  2. Add cumin seeds and as soon as they start popping, add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the coriander, cumin powder, cayenne, turmeric, paprika/smoked paprika, and garam masala. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes + juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan.
  4. Add the water, chickpeas and salt.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to make sure the Chana Masala doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
vegan chana masala recipe, served in a black bowl

Will kids enjoy this Vegan Chana Masala? 

Both of my kids loved this chana masala recipe. I served it to them with a scoop of plain, organic, whole milk yogurt. If your kids are sensitive to spices I recommend adding a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream, or a vegan version of yogurt or sour cream to tame the spice. You could also just cut back on the spices themselves in the dish when you’re preparing it (e.g. use half the quantity of each spice listed in the recipe). This dish isn’t overly spicy, but could still have some distinct flavors for some kids. Serving this dish with a whole grain naan, whole wheat tortilla or brown rice is another way to make it more kid-friendly!

Is chana masala usually vegan?

Not necessarily, because traditionally chana masala is made with ghee, which is clarified butter. Many restaurants might substitute olive oil or another oil for ghee, but you should ask before ordering it. Traditionally chana masala is made with a base of green chilies, onion, garlic, cilantro, chickpeas, and Indian spices, in a rich tomato sauce. 

What is the difference between chana masala and chole masala?

Both Chole Masala and Chana Masala are made with chickpeas and a variety of Indian spices. 

Chole Masala has more distinctive brown curry sauce that is made using a pomegranate and dried mango powder. It also does not include tomatoes.

Chana Masala on the hand has a rich red tomato sauce that comes from the tomatoes and turmeric that are added to the dish.

Both dishes are delicious, and rich in flavor. 

vegan chana masala recipe, served in a black bowl with tomatoes and onions as garnishes on the side. top view.

What to Serve with Vegan Chana Masala

There are a variety of options to serve with this vegan chana masala recipe! Some of my favorites include:

  • Rice (I recommend brown rice or quinoa for more whole grains and fiber)
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas (and if you can find it – sprouted wheat tortillas)
  • Whole Wheat Naan
  • Cauliflower Sabji (or any Indian vegetable sauteed with spices)
  • Mango Chutney
  • With raita or whole milk greek yogurt (or whole milk plain yogurt) on the side

Top Tips for Making Vegan Chana Masala

  • In order to get the full flavor of this chana masala be sure to toast the cumin seeds before adding the onions.
  • When you hear the seeds begin to pop in the oil that’s when you know it’s time to add the onion, garlic, and ginger.
  • Heat the onions on low for 5 minutes or until they caramelize.
  • Add the other spices before adding the tomatoes and other ingredients. This will allow the spices to integrate together for that rich full flavor.
  • If you don’t have whole tomatoes canned, you can also use the same size can of diced tomatoes.
  • For some extra greens, you can add 6oz chopped baby spinach to this recipe. You can add them at the last 10 minutes of cooking, and let them wilt on their own while the chana masala is simmering.
  • This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Be Sure To Try These Other Healthy Indian Recipes!

If you have tried this vegan chana masala recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Vegan Chana Masala Recipe

This Vegan Chana Masala tastes like something you’d order from a fantastic Indian restaurant. It’s a healthy, gluten-free, naturally vegan, yet still rich and flavorful with the perfect amount of heat. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 234kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large pot on high heat.
  • Add cumin seeds and as soon as they start popping, add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the coriander, cumin powder, cayenne, turmeric, paprika/smoked paprika, and garam masala. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes + juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan.
  • Add the water, chickpeas and salt.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to make sure the Chana Masala doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Notes

Top Tips for Making Vegan Chana Masala
  • In order to get the full flavor of this chana masala be sure to toast the cumin seeds before adding the onions.
  • When you hear the seeds begin to pop in the oil that’s when you know it’s time to add the onion, garlic, and ginger.
  • Heat the onions on low for 5 minutes or until they caramelize.
  • Add the other spices before adding the tomatoes and other ingredients. This will allow the spices to integrate together for that rich full flavor.
  • If you don’t have whole tomatoes canned, you can also use the same size can of diced tomatoes.
  • For some extra greens, you can add 6oz chopped baby spinach to this recipe. You can add them at the last 10 minutes of cooking, and let them wilt on their own while the chana masala is simmering.
  • This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

Nutrition

Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 43.3g | Protein: 9.5g | Fat: 3.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 738mg | Fiber: 8.5g

Posted In…

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20 responses to “Vegan Chana Masala”

    • Hi Jason! You can use ginger/garlic paste — the reason I use it separately is because I like to control the amount of ginger and garlic in the recipe (ginger/garlic pastes vary with how much ginger-to-garlic ratio is in the paste). But it should still taste pretty good – you may just end up with a more gingery or garlicy taste to the chana masala!

    • Hi Sally! If you use 1 can of chickpeas, use 1/3 of the quantities of ingredients & spices. If you use 2 cans of chickpeas, use 2/3 of the quantities of ingredients and spices. Hope that helps!

  1. Your photo taking skills are so stunning. I never try dishes like this at all but would like to try your recipe for dinner soon. Hope I can make it look as delicious as yours!

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