Chana Masala

Chana Masala

I add spinach to this simple version of traditional Indian chana masala. I love how the green leaves contrast with the bright, spiced tomato sauce.

vegan / gluten free / dinner

Chana Masala

I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I LOVE chickpeas. They’re such a healthy, versatile plant-based protein, and they’re so easy to keep on hand in the pantry. Actually, aside from the fresh spinach, this entire chana masala recipe is pretty pantry-friendly.

Chana Masala Recipe ingredients

My Chana Masala Recipe

As always, when I post an Indian-inspired dish, I want to give you the disclaimer that it might not be the most authentic version (remember Aloo Gobi-ish?). I love chana masala when I go to Indian restaurants, and I think this at-home version tastes really good without using hard-to-find ingredients that you might encounter in other chana masala recipes.

You likely have many of these spices on hand, although for this recipe, I recommend that you check and make sure your spices are pretty fresh. Dried spices don’t really go bad, but they do lose their potency over time, so if your spice drawer items are over a year old, you might think about refreshing them.

(Note that I’ve shown cardamom powder in the spice photo above, but this recipe is actually best with whole cardamom pods).

And of course, chana masala isn’t supposed to have spinach, but, hey, I like to pack in green vegetables whenever I can.

Chana Masala with Spinach

Chana Masala Serving Suggestions

I recommend serving this recipe with steamed basmati rice, brown rice, cilantro lime rice, or even cauliflower rice. Warm naan is also excellent on the side.

If you’re looking for a healthy veggie side dish to pair with this recipe, I recommend roasted cauliflower or lemon green beans.

Let me know how this chana masala recipe turns out for you in the comments! I hope you love it.

Chana Masala Recipe

If you love this chana masala recipe…

Try my mixed vegetable curry, curried lentil soup, or curried stuffed sweet potato next!

4.9 from 15 reviews

Chana Masala

  PrintPrep time 10 minsCook time 20 minsTotal time 30 mins A simplified version of traditional Indian chana masala, this healthy dish comes together in just 30 minutes. I add fresh spinach for extra nutrients and a pop of green.Author: Jeanine DonofrioRecipe type: Main dishServes: 4Ingredients

  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cardamom pods, minced (discard the outer shells)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 5 to 8 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 tablespoon lime juice, more to taste
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
See also  Roasted Sweet Potato & Cranberry Salad


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and generous pinches of salt and pepper and cook until browned and very soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds halfway through.
  2. Add the coriander, turmeric, cardamom, garlic, garam masala, ginger and cayenne pepper, if using, and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add ¼ cup of water and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and another few pinches of salt. Stir and bring to a low simmer so that it’s bubbling just a bit. Cook on medium heat to thicken, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas, ¼ cup more water, and another pinch of salt, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and it’s a thick stew, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach until wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add the lemon/lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon or lime if desired. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving. Serve with steamed rice and naan, if desired.


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  1. Frances

    Great seasoning, and glad for spinach in it. The lime and lemon juice at the finish gives it a lift too. I was wondering if anyone has tried to freeze this? Would make again. Thank you!

    Reply ↓

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Yes, this recipe would freeze great! So glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply ↓

  2. Shirley from love%20and%20lemons

    Jan. 25/ 23

    Delicious! It had so much flavor. I used 3/4 of a teaspoon of the spices, which was perfect for me. I didn’t have any fresh garlic, so I added garlic powder. Made some quinoa instead of rice. I sliced toasted a pita pocket in the toaster oven and dabbed some vegan margarine. Plenty left for lunch and supper for the entire weekend.

    Reply ↓

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      So glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply ↓

  3. Margarita

    Made this today and had the most wonderful visit for dinner. It was simple and delicious, yet so much flavor. I did not cook the spinach in the stew and decided to add it on the side. I cooked basmati rice and served some into bowls, poured the chana masala over 3/4 of it, and packed a bunch of spinach to the other 1/4. Looked beautiful and felt crunchy and satisfying. Thanks again for an awesome recipe L & L ♡

    Reply ↓

  4. Elisa

    DISCLAIMER: While perusing your site, trying to find a rice dish to cook for dinner tonight, I ran across this recipe… My British friend made this for us on her last visit to the USA but I was not a fan of the Indian spices (and thus do not have them in my pantry). I still loved the look of yours, so I decided to make it, but without the Indian herbs/spices.
    I usually follow recipes precisely for reviews because I know how hard chefs work to perfect their recipes. So this may not exactly be a review of your recipe, but it is a review of how flexible your recipes are!

    I did prepare it exactly as written, with the exception of the spices and my entire family is raving about it.

    My substitutions:
    basil, lemon thyme, allspice, pine nuts.

    Did not use:
    cumin seed, coriander, turmeric, cardamom pods or garam masala.

    I hope this helps others who are not fans of Indian seasonings or perhaps simply do not have them in their pantry. Never let a lack of ingredients deter you from trying your own twist on a recipe!

    Thank you so much for another great dinner idea!

    Reply ↓

  5. Amanda

    This recipe was AMAZING!! I was afraid with all the spices (many of which I wasn’t familiar with) I wouldn’t like all the flavor, but it was perfect! I added a little more water toward the end of cooking the chickpeas and used ever so slightly less cayenne pepper. Other than that, I followed it exactly. Highly recommend and will have to make it again!

    Reply ↓

  6. Shelly Dax from

    Great recipe and love your website. Just discovered it. Such fresh, fun photos too.

    Reply ↓

  7. bankers lamp

    thanks for recipe sharing. I hope it will be helpful for too many people that are searching for this topic.

    Reply ↓

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