Dish of the Week: Chana Masala

This popular Indian street food is a bright, intense answer to your New Year's resolutions.
This popular Indian street food is a bright, intense answer to your New Year's resolutions.
Photo by Divya Thakur

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a dish perfect for your New Year's resolutions: chana masala.

Also known as chole masala or channay, chana masala is a stew-like dish made with chickpeas as the main ingredient. Often chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and a blend of spices such as coriander, chile, amchoor (dried mango powder) and garam masala are incorporated, producing a spicy, slightly sour note to the dish. It can have a thick, almost dry consistency, and is a popular street food in India and Pakistan.

Eat it as a snack or light lunch with naan, roti or a fried Indian bread known as bhatoora; serve it as a hearty meatless Monday dinner along with spinach, diced potatoes and basmati rice; Or throw an egg on top and call it breakfast. A dollop of Greek yogurt or crème fraîche and fresh cilantro never hurt matters, either.

This recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, uses a blend of fresh garlic and ginger, hot fresh chile pepper, garam masala, paprika, coriander, tumic, and cayenne to make a wonderfully rich, intense stew. Fresh lemon juice adds a touch of tart.

Chana Masala
*Adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (use less depending on heat levels of cayenne)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon amchoor powder (dried unripe mango powder — if unavailable, use more lemon)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced) (see note above; use whole lemon if amchoor powder is unavailable)

Directions
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, amchoor (if using it), paprika and garam masala.

Cook onion mixture with spices for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice (adding up to one whole lemon as needed).

Serve hot with desired accompaniments. The curry also reheats well if you make it ahead or are serving later on.


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