You have got to try this super easy recipe for The Best Vegan Chana Masala. What makes this dish so delicious is a secret ingredient that adds umami. And the wonderful mix of spices of course! Best of all, you can have this on your dinner table in 30 minutes.
I just love making chana masala and I especially love the smell of all the spices while cooking. It takes me someplace far away and exotic- a little mini escape from my to-do list. I can become so engrossed while preparing this dish that everything else seems to melt away. That's the beauty of cooking!
Now if you are like I was, you may be a little intimidated to recreate Indian food at home. But I promise you, this recipe is super easy and it takes no time at all!
With that said, if you are just getting into Indian cooking, you will need to stock up on a few spice staples. I get mine from my local Indian market and they are super cheap and last a long time! One of the great things about Indian cooking is that once you have those few staples, you can recreate many popular Indian dishes and maybe even create some of your own.
Let's Talk Spices
Spices are what makes Chana Masala so delicious, so it's well worth a trip to an Indian or spice market to grab some of these. Although, if you don't have one or two of these spices, don't worry it will still come out delicious. I've forgotten a spice a time or two and we still devoured this dish!
For Vegan Chana Masala you will need asofatida, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, and cumin seeds. All of these are pretty easy to find aside from the asofatida and garam masala, which you can find at any Indian market or Amazon.
Garam Masala is a mixture of spices, the most common ones being: cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, fennel, mace and dried chilies. Garam Masala is considered a finishing spice and is typically added at the end of the cooking process. If you prefer to make your own at home, I have a great recipe for you HERE.
Asofatida, sometimes called hing, is a gum that is extracted from a ferula (a giant fennel) and typically sold as a fine powder. The smell is well... BAD, but don't let that deter you from getting a bottle because this little spice is what makes Indian food taste authentic. It somehow brings out all the other spices. You won't find asofatida at your local Whole Foods, but it's worth a trip to an Indian market or you can order from Amazon.
Like I said, spices are what makes Indian food so wonderful, but don't worry if you are missing a spice or two. Just get in the kitchen, have fun, and I'm sure your Chana Masala will be delicious!
Now for one last optional but AMAZING Ingredient: Korean Red Pepper paste (Gochujang). Believe me, you will not regret buying this delicious fermented paste. It's spicy, sweet, smokey, and very addictive! I find myself adding it to all kinds of dishes.
If you are lucky enough to have a Korean or Asian market near you, then you can purchase Korean hot pepper paste there. You will find many different brands and spice levels or you can easily purchase off Amazon. You can click HERE for the one I ordered last. I really like it! Although, it's a bit spicy so adjust the measurement according to taste.
Make Life Easier
So, once you have your spices ready, the only other ingredients you need are onion, garlic, ginger, canned tomatoes and chickpeas.
I choose to use canned chickpeas and tomatoes for Chana Masala because it's so convenient. We always have low sodium chickpeas and canned tomatoes in the pantry so we can whip this up at a moments notice.
Furthermore, I like using canned tomatoes because I can predict the outcome. When tomatoes are out of season they can be quite bland and tasteless. Although, if we have fresh, in-season tomatoes, we will definitely use those. So, just use what you prefer and have on hand.
For Serving The Best Vegan Chana Masala
Vegan Chana Masala is best served with basmati rice and naan. Actually, my favorite way to eat it is with whole wheat naan. I usually have some in the fridge or freezer and I just heat it in a cast iron skillet right before serving. YUM! Garnish with fresh cilantro or mint.
Chana Masala taste great the next day and will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Just be sure to store rice separately.
I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for vegan chana masala as much as we do. We have been making it every week lately! Let me know how it turns out.
The Best Vegan Chana Masala
- 15 oz chickpeas canned, rinsed and drained
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes canned
- 1 onion small, diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon ginger minced
- 2 teaspoon cumin seeds optional
- ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida optional
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ tbs Korean Red Pepper Paste (Gochujang) buy here, see notes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil or other cooking oil
- If serving with rice (preferably basmati), go ahead and prepare according to package instructions.
- Combine smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- Dice your onion and mince your garlic and ginger.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet or saucepan.
- Add cumin seeds and asafoetida and stir for 30 seconds allowing them to sizzle and become fragrant.
- Add onion and saute with the seeds for 5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add ginger, garlic, and seasoning mix. Stir for 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes and hot pepper paste. Stir together for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add chickpeas and let simmer for about 10 minutes. You can smash a few of the chickpeas with a potato masher for a creamier consistency.
- Stir in the garam masala and remove from heat.
- Serve with basmati rice and naan (my favorite!) and garnish with cilantro.
- Happy Eating!