Easy Chana Masala – Connoisseurus Veg

This chana masala is loaded with flavor and easy to make! Made with chickpeas in a spicy tomato curry sauce, it’s just as delicious as takeout, and almost as easy. This scrumptious vegan meal can be on the table in about 40 minutes!

White wooden surface set with skillet and bowl of Vegan Chana Masala.

Chana masala is absolutely one of my favorite classic Indian dishes. Isn’t it everyone’s favorite?

It just so happens that chana masala is one of the easiest Indian dishes to make, as well as one of the easiest to veganize. Yay!

In case you’ve never had it before (in which case you’ve totally been missing out) chana masala is a super simple chickpea curry with a tomato onion sauce. It’s loaded with flavor, super comforting, and can be made with mostly a bunch of pantry staples.

And, get ready for it: traditional chana masala is often vegan! Not always, but often. If you order it at a restaurant it might be made with an animal product like ghee.

That’s why I make mine at home. My super simple vegan chana masala recipe is just as delicious as what you’d get in a restaurant and guaranteed vegan (and gluten-free!). It’s also easy enough for a busy weeknight.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Vegetable oil. You can use just about any neutral high-heat oil for this recipe. Coconut oil, avocado oil, and corn oil will all work just fine!
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Ginger.
  • Serrano pepper. This will add quite a bit of heat to your chana masala. Use half a pepper to lower the amount of heat, or leave it out completely for a mild curry.
  • Spices. We’re using a mix of garam masala, ground cumin, cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
  • Chickpeas. The recipe calls for canned chickpeas. They’re precooked, so the curry cooks up super fast. You can soak and cook dried chickpeas from scratch if you’d like. You’ll need about 4 cups.
  • Tomato sauce.
  • Brown sugar. This balances out the acidity of the tomatoes in our chana masala. You can leave it out if you prefer to avoid added sugar. Make sure to buy organic if you do use it, as conventional sugar may be processed using animal bone char.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Fresh cilantro. We’re topping our vegan chana masala with a sprinkle of this, unless of course you’re a cilantro hater, in which case you can skip it!
  • Basmati rice.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

Onions and spices cooking in a skillet.

Start by cooking your onion in a bit of oil. Once the onion has softened up and begun to brown, add minced garlic, grated ginger, chopped serrano pepper (if you like it hot) and your spices. Sauté everything briefly.

Tomato sauce being poured into a skillet of chickpeas.

Next your add your chickpeas and carefully pour in the tomato sauce. Add brown sugar. Give everything a good stir so that the ingredients are evenly mixed up. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Vegan Chana Masala simmering in a skillet with the lid on.

Lower the heat and cover the pot. Let the curry simmer for about 15 minutes. This is just enough time for the flavors to meld and the chickpeas to soften up slightly.

Chickpeas and tomato sauce simmering in a skillet.

Uncover the skillet and let your chana masala simmer for a few minutes more, just to thicken the sauce a bit.

Close up of Vegan Chana Masala in a skillet with wooden spoon.

Take the skillet off of heat and season the curry with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any other seasonings to your liking at this point. You can add more brown sugar, extra cayenne pepper for heat, or more of any of the other spices.

Bowl of Vegan Chana Masala with fork and spoon.

Your vegan chana masala is ready! Serve it with some basmati rice and fresh cilantro on top. Raw onions make a great topper and vegan naan is a delicious accompaniment.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan chana masala will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. It can be reheated in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave. Add a bit of water if the sauce has thickened up too much while in storage.

More Vegan Indian Recipes

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Bowl of Vegan Chana Masala with rice and onion slices.

Easy Chana Masala

This chana masala is loaded with flavor and easy to make! Made with chickpeas in a spicy tomato curry sauce, it’s just as delicious as takeout, and almost as easy. This scrumptious vegan meal can be on the table in about 40 minutes!


  • 2
    vegetable oil
  • 1
    medium onion,
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
  • 2
    freshly grated ginger
  • 1
    serrano pepper,
    seeded and finely minced (optional – see Note)
  • 2
    garam masala
  • 1
    ground cumin
  • 1
    whole cumin seeds
  • ½
    ground coriander
  • ½
  • Pinch
    cayenne pepper,
    or to taste
  • 2
    (15 oz/439 g) cans
    drained and rinsed
  • 1
    (15 oz/439 ml) can
    tomato sauce
  • 1
    organic brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper,
    to taste
  • Fresh cilantro,
    for topping
  • Cooked basmati rice,
    for serving


  1. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with the oil and place it over medium heat.

  2. Add the onion once the oil is hot. Sweat the onion for about 8 minutes, until it becomes very soft and begins to brown.

  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger, serrano pepper (if using) garam masala, ground cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Sauté the mixture for about 1 minute, until it becomes very fragrant.

  4. Stir in the chickpeas, tomato sauce and brown sugar. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasinoally.

  5. Lower the heat until the sauce is at a low simmer. Cover the skillet and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, uncovering it occasionally to give it a stir.

  6. Remove the lid and simmer the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes longer, just until the sauce thickens slightly.

  7. Remove the skillet from heat and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

  8. Serve with rice and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Recipe Notes

The serrano pepper will add quite a bit of heat to this dish. For a milder version, use half a pepper, or omit it completely. If you’re not sure how much you can take, skip the serrano and just season the curry with cayenne pepper to taste instead.

Nutrition Facts

Easy Chana Masala

Amount Per Serving (1 cup)

Calories 383
Calories from Fat 89

% Daily Value*

Fat 9.9g15%

Saturated Fat 1.7g9%

Sodium 1297mg54%

Potassium 861mg25%

Carbohydrates 63g21%

Fiber 12.7g51%

Sugar 7g8%

Protein 13.5g27%

Calcium 106mg11%

Iron 5mg28%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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