Chana Masala


I used to be picky. And when I say picky I mean, really picky. Thankfully, along the years my tastes have changed, developed and matured. It’s only in the last 8-ish years I have enjoyed steak, learned to appreciate the flavours an onion can bring to a dish and discovered how enjoyable strong, bitter and spicier flavor profiles can be.

My favourite cuisine by far is Indian. Beyond my love of the use of freshly ground spices and slow cooked stews, I am a huge fan of how budget friendly many Indian dishes are. Lentils, chickpeas, paneer, peppers, potatoes and peas are all affordable, available year round and super versatile once you know the basics of Indian cuisine.


Chana Masala, like many other well known Indian dishes, is naturally gluten free and vegetarian, making this a great option for a dinner party or potluck! This version is a bit on the spicier side, so I would encourage you to reduce the ginger, chilies and cayenne pepper if you are new to Indian cuisine or have not built up a strong spice tolerance. I like to make this dish when my husband or I have a cold. It opens up the sinuses and let’s you breathe!


Chana Masala


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 chilies, diced  (I used serrano)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coriander seed, freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed, freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 15oz tins of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves


  1. In dutch oven, heat canola oil and brown onions, ginger, garlic and jalapenos over medium-high heat.
  2. In a small bowl, mix coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, amchoor, paprika, garam masala and salt. Add 1/4 cup of water and mix to make a thick paste. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add spices.  Cook, stirring often for 3 minutes.
  3. Add diced tomatoes to dutch oven. Scrape the bottom of the pan to ensure nothing sticks. Add remaining 1/2 cup of water and chickpeas. Stir, and simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the dish has reached desired thickness.
  4. Remove from heat and stir-in lemon juice and fenugreek leaves. Serve over basmati rice.

Serves 4 as a main or 6+ as a side dish

Budget Friendly Chana Masala | Peppers & Pennies


  1. Amanda, this looks absolutely delicious! What a fragrant dish, full of amazing anti-inflammatory spices. I also love Indian food and you can never go wrong with a homemade curry. I’ve never heard of amchoor powder but have looked it up and will see if I can find it where I live. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to trying this!

    • PeppersPennies

      Thanks for coming by! Amchoor is a bit on the bitter side but it works well in this dish! I also use it in my tawa paneer and I think it cuts the acidity of tomatoes. Here’s to trying new spices 🙂

  2. Hi Amanda, I am part of your fan club for Indian food. I have always enjoyed creating the spice combinations and that most dishes are vegetarian makes it very enticing for my wife Nicoletta. Your Chana masala looks fantastic, I personally like the heat from the chilies, but my family does not share that pallet with me. As for the economics of Indian cuisine it is so true, very cost effective, very similar to the Italian culture always watching those pennies well the post war generation. Great Job on this dish and the Chana on top of the rice makes me want this right now. Look forward to giving your recipe a try when we are back home in Canada.

    • PeppersPennies

      Loreto, this means so much to me 🙂 I am such a huge fan of you and your wife’s blog. You create such beautiful and pure dishes. I can only aspire to be a fraction as talented as you two! Please let me know how the dish turns out.

  3. I’m a very big fan of chana masala – bookmarked for the cold weather to come!

  4. Such a great recipe, and I LOVE the fact that you went all in on the spices (amchoor powder! Yes!). I know that Indian food has a reputation for being long on the ingredient list, but once you actually learn to use the spices (and get them of course), they’re so simple to use. I get frustrated by all of the supposedly Indian-spiced dishes out there that just fire some garam masala into the mix and call it a day. This is a great dish Amanda. Awesome work.

  5. This looks so good! I love that it’s cheap and quick to prepare. Your photos are beautiful.

  6. Beautiful dish, Amanda! I love the use of offbeat spices and the bright, colourful imagery. I’d love to dive face first into a plate of this for dinner tonight — wanna come over? I’ve got lots of wine and a cozy spot in front of the fireplace with your name on it! Haha.

    Also, I’m part of the Indian cuisine lovers club, as well. I have a curried stuffed acorn squash recipe coming up soon with some of the same flavours and veggies!

    • PeppersPennies

      Thank you, Justine! It is a favourite of mine and I am so happy with how it turned-out. I just pulled a large batch from out of the freezer last night! One of the many perks of being a Food Blogger is your freezer is well stocked from recipe testing…

      Your curried squash recipe sounds amazing. I will eagerly await your post!

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