chana masala recipe, how to make south indian chana masala

chana-masala-recipe-south-indian

chana masala recipe with step by step photos – chana masala or chickpea curry is a regular dish at home. most of the times i cook the north indian punjabi chana masala.

the recipe posted here is a south indian version of chana masala. so as the name suggests, this chana masala recipe has south indian flavors. basically in this recipe, all the ingredients which are commonly used in south indian cooking are added, with grated coconut being one of the main ingredient.

in the punjabi style or north indian chana masala, onions, tomatoes, spices and dry pomegranate seeds or mango powder, make the masala paste and give a spicy and slight sour taste to the chana or chole recipe. apart from the above ingredients, garam masala powder or chole masala is also added to the punjabi chana masala recipe.

whereas in this chana masala the real flavor comes from the coconut and whole spices. you can actually get a distinct taste of coconut. there is a subtle sweetness and this chana masala is not sour or tangy.

the chana masala tastes spicy and goes well with rice, roti or poori. it can even go very well with bhature (leavened fried breads). if you are fond of chole bhature then you can consider serving this chana masala recipe with the homemade bhatura.

i make this chana masala, with mildly hot 2 red chilies for a low spiced version at times. and on occasions, i add 4 dry red chilies to make it spicy. so you can vary the amount of red chilies as per your taste, spice preference and the quality of red chilies. the same recipe can also be made with black chickpeas, potato or green peas.

lets start step by step chana masala recipe:

1. first rinse 1 cup chana/dried chickpeas for a couple of times in water. then soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or for 8 to 9 hours. below is a pic of soaked chickpeas.

chana, chole, chickpeas

2. drain the water. rinse the chickpeas again for a couple of times.

chana, chole, chickpeas

3. again drain and add the soaked chickpeas in a pressure cooker.

chana, chole, chickpeas

4. add ½ tsp salt.

salt for chana masala recipe

5. add 3 cups water.

water for chana masala recipe

6. stir and pressure cook the chickpeas for 18 to 20 whistles on medium to high flame. the chickpeas should be completely cooked and have a melt in mouth consistency.

cooked chana, cooked chickpeas

7. when the chickpeas are cooking, you can prepare the masala. here are the spices that we will roast first – ½ tbsp fennel, ½ tbsp cumin seeds, 1 small piece of stone flower/dagad phool (optional), 4 to 5 black peppercorns, 2 green cardamoms, 2-3 cloves, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon, 2 dry red chilies. for a spicy chana, add about 3 to 4 dry red chilies. the amount of red chilies to be added depends on heat quotient in the chilies. so if you use red chilies which have a high heat quotient, then just 1 or 2 dry red chilies would be fine.

spices for chana masala recipe

8. in a pan or skillet, on a low flame dry roast the spices till they become fragrant.

roasting spices - chana masala recipe

9. then add ½ cup tightly packed grated coconut to the spices and begin to roast.

coconut for chana masala recipe

10. stir continuously while roasting the coconut, so that there is uniform browning.

roasting chana masala

11. roast till the coconut become golden. remove the pan and allow the this mixture to cool.

masala for chana masala recipe

12. once the coconut-spice mixture is cooled, add them to a wet grinder jar. remove the husk from the black cardamom and just add its seeds in the grinder.

masala for chana masala recipe

13. add about ⅔ to ¾ cup water and grind to a smooth paste. keep aside.

adding water - chana masala recipe

14. heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan.

oil for chana masala recipe

15. add ½ tsp mustard seeds and allow them to crackle.

mustard seeds for chana masala recipe

16. then add 1 tejpatta and stir.

tejpatta for chana masala recipe

17. add ⅓ cup chopped onion.

onions for chana masala recipe

18. stir and saute till the onions turn translucent and soften.

sauting onions for chana masala recipe

19. then add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste, ¼ tsp turmeric power, a pinch of asafoetida and 10-12 curry leaves.

ginger for chana masala recipe

20. stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic disappears.

ginger garlic for chana masala recipe

21. add ½ cup chopped tomato.

tomatoes for chana masala recipe

22. saute for about 2 to 3 minutes till the tomatoes soften.

tomatoes for chana masala recipe

23. add the ground masala paste.

masala paste for chana masala recipe

24. stir very well.

stir chana masala

25. then add the drained chickpeas. reserve the stock.

chana for chana masala recipe

26. stir again well and saute for a minute.

stir chana masala

27. now add 1 cup stock or stock+water and 1 or 2 slit green chilies.

water for chana masala recipe

28. season with salt as required. do keep a check on salt as the stock already has salt.

salt for chana masala recipe

29. give a boil and then simmer the gravy on a low to medium flame for 12-15 minutes or more till the gravy thickens a bit and you see some oil floating on top. mash a few chickpeas with the sides of the spoon to thicken the gravy. check the seasoning and add more salt as per your taste. add more water if required.

mashing chana for chana masala recipe

30. lastly, switch off the flame & lastly add 2 tbsp coriander leaves. stir well.

chana masala recipe

31. serve chana masala hot with pooris, chapatis, bread or steamed rice accompanied with lemon & onion slices.

chana masala south indian recipe

if you are looking for more chole or chana recipes then do check aloo chana masala, easy chana masalaamritsari chole, pindi chana, dry kala chanachana pulao and chana chaat.

chana masala recipe details below:

4.7 from 10 reviews
chana masala recipe
 
PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
 
chana masala - spicy south indian chickpea curry with coconut.
AUTHOR:
RECIPE TYPE: main
CUISINE: south indian
SERVES: 4
INGREDIENTS (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
for pressure cooking the chickpeas:
  • 1 cup dried white chickpeas/kabuli chana or 180 grams of dried white chickpeas
  • 3 cups water for pressure cooking the chana
  • ½ tsp salt
for roasting the masala:
  • ¾ to 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 inch cinnamon/dal chini
  • ½ tbsp fennel/saunf
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds/sabut dhania
  • 2 dry red chilies (3 or 4 chilies would make the dish spicy)
  • 2-3 cloves/lavang
  • 1 black cardamom/badi elachi
  • 2 green cardamom/chotti elachi
  • 4 to 5 whole black pepper
  • 1 small piece of stone flower/dagad phool (optional)
other ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 small bay leaf/tej patta
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds/rai
  • 10-12 curry leaves/kadi patta
  • 1 green chili, slit
  • 50 grams onion, 1 medium onion or ⅓ cup chopped onion
  • 80 grams tomatoes, 1 medium tomato or just about ½ cup chopped tomato
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • ¼ or ½ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
  • a pinch of asafoetida/hing
  • ½ inch ginger + 2-3 garlic - crushed or made into a paste in mortar-pestle, about 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 cup stock or stock+water
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
  • salt as required
INSTRUCTIONS
cooking the chickpeas:
  1. first rinse the 1 cup chana/dried chickpeas for a couple of times in water. then soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.
  2. drain the water. rinse the chanas again for a couple of times.
  3. again drain and add the soaked chanas in a pressure cooker.
  4. add ½ tsp salt. add 3 cups water.
  5. stir and pressure cook the chana for 18 to 20 whistles on medium to high flame.
  6. if cooking in a pot, then add about 3.5 to 4 cups water with salt to the chickpeas. cover and cook the chickpeas till they softened.
preparing the masala:
  1. when the chickpeas are cooking, in a pan or skillet, on a low flame dry roast the spices mentioned under the "roasting the masala" list, till they become fragrant. roast all spices except coconut.
  2. then add ½ cup tightly packed grated coconut to the spices and begin to roast.
  3. stir continuously while roasting the coconut, so that there is uniform browning.
  4. roast till the coconut become golden. remove the pan and allow the this mixture to cool.
  5. once the coconut-spice mixture is cooled, add them to wet grinder. remove the husk from the black cardamom and just add its seeds in the grinder.
  6. add ⅔ to ¾ cup water and grind to a smooth paste. keep aside.
preparing the chana masala gravy or curry:
  1. heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan.
  2. add ½ tsp mustard seeds and allow them to crackle.
  3. then add tejpatta and stir.
  4. add ⅓ cup chopped onion.
  5. stir and saute till the onions turn translucent and soften.
  6. then add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste, ¼ tsp turmeric power, a pinch of asafoetida and 10-12 curry leaves.
  7. stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic disappears.
  8. add ½ cup chopped tomato. saute for about 2 to 3 minutes till the tomatoes soften.
  9. add the ground masala paste. stir very well.
  10. then add the drained chanas. stir again well and saute for a minute.
  11. now add 1 cup stock or stock+water and 1 or 2 slit green chilies.
  12. season with salt as required. do keep a check on salt as the stock already has salt.
  13. give a boil and then simmer for 12-15 minutes on a low to medium flame or more till the gravy thickens a bit and you see some oil floating on top. mash a few chickpeas with the sides of the spoon to thicken the gravy. check the seasoning and add more salt as per your taste.
  14. switch off the flame & lastly add 2 tbsp coriander leaves. stir well.
  15. serve chana masala hot with pooris, chapatis, bread or steamed rice accompanied with lemon & onion slices.




{ 68 Responses }

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  1. Lokanath Patel says

    Chana, I love, my favorite. You can cook Chana in anyway you want and you won’t hurt my feeling. Thank you. Lok Patel

  2. Nels says

    Greetings. I just made this recipe, tasted a bit when done and it seemed great. Question: I see turmeric in the ingredients list but not in the directions. When should it be added? I threw it in together with the asafoetida, since it is also a powdered dry spice, but cannot be sure if that was right.

    As an aside, I will need to get a proper spice grinder; my combination of mortar and pestle followed by blender did not really produce the desired results for texture! But I think the flavors came through nicely nonetheless.

    • says

      thanks for the feedback nels and also for letting us know about the turmeric bit. i have updated in the post. you can add turmeric along with the asafoetida. its right. one needs a good grinder or a blender to make a smooth masala paste. for making indian food on a regular basis, which require a thorough grinding of coconut or spices, an indian brand of mixer-grinder is a good investment.

  3. Daniel says

    I just discovered this blog and LOVE it!

    I was hoping to make this recipe for dinner, but I don’t have time to soak the chickpeas. Would I be able to cheat and either use canned chickpeas or cook the chick peas in boiling water for a couple minutes and then let them sit in the hot water for an hour? Love the recipes!

  4. harini says

    hi dassana, awesome recipe.the gravy was very much tasty and sufficient for 5 of us, i was able to serve more unlike the onion based channa masala.i have to use more onions for that.but this recipe requires very little amount of onion.the coconut gives the more volume i think.thanks for the recipe.my family just loved it.

  5. aarthi says

    Dassna, this recipe was just amazing! Thank you. I was looking for alternatives for the regular north indian/punjabi garam masala and this was awesome!

  6. sania says

    Hi Dassana thank u for a lip smacking yummmmmm recipe. made it twice already.absolutely loved it .Would give it a 100 stars if i cud(it was tat gud ) .wanna try the palak paneer recipe next.

  7. Viji says

    Hi dassanna,

    Gonna try this channa masala..I have some doubts before trying it..can I temper the whole spices like cloves,cardamom instead of roasting and grinding?also both green and black cardamom won’t make over powerful aroma? We like the flavour of those whole spices to be mild..suggest me whether to reduce the whole spices and grind it or to temper..

    • says

      hi viji, if you temper the full flavors & taste won’t come through. the usp of this recipe is the roasting and grinding of the whole spices and the coconut. both the cardamoms don’t give a powerful aroma as coconut is added, which also balances the intensity of the spices. but for a milder version, you reduce the spices. just skip the black cardamom in this case.

  8. Milos says

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe, turned out great in my humble kitchen. I wonder, though, why you put the dry-roasted spices in water? I did it and tried blending, but didn’t get anywhere near a smooth paste. It was quite chunky, even though it smelled and tasted great when I put it into the dish. (btw I used desiccated coconut). Would it be a good idea to put it through a sieve after blending?
    I liked the recipe a lot to be clear, but other people may not like chunks of spices and coconut. That is why I am asking this :)

    • says

      thanks milos. the spices including coconut needs to be ground very well. basically its the coconut which need to be ground to a smooth paste. generally western made blenders don’t do a thorough job of grinding coconut. one needs a really & sturdy good mixer-grinder, preferably an indian make one. since i have used fresh coconut, it needs to be ground well in some water. the water helps in grinding the coconut easily. bit if use desiccated coconut, then no need to add any water while grinding. usea good coffee grinder and grind the roasted spices with the coconut in batches to a fine mixture. i would not suggest to use a sieve as most of the flavors of the spices and coconut will be lost then. try using a coffee grinder or a spice grinder to powder the roasted spices and coconut.

      • Milos says

        I used desiccated coconut again, but without water, so as if making garam masala with coconut. It turned out without chunks and the taste was again wonderful, needless to say. I suppose this can be done when preparing any other curry?
        You are right about a hand grinder, much better and more practical for small quantities of spices than a big blender.

        • says

          yes, milos this method can be done when preparing any curry. desiccated coconut works very well in the absence of fresh coconut. again if you roast the coconut, it gives a wonderful aroma and flavor to the curry. yes, small grinders are better to grind small amount of spices than large blenders.

  9. Natalie says

    Can I substitute dried chickpeas with fresh ones? I found these beautiful and fresh chickpeas (still in the shell) at my local international market. I thought it will eliminate the pressure cook step and go straight to add fresh chickpeas on step 20. Do you think this will work? Thanks!

    • says

      with fresh chickpeas, the texture as well as the taste would be different. i would still say go ahead with the recipe. it will taste good. you can also steam the fresh chickpeas before you add them at step 20.

  10. Rob Jones says

    Very tasty. The curry leaves are definitely “up front” on this dish. I used 1/2c dessicated coconut, which wasn’t nearly enough to be detectable. Overall very nice, but a lot different than the dish by the same name I’ve had in Indian restaurants in the US. Next time around I’ll knock down the curry leaves and increase the coconut. That should balance out the flavors.

  11. LBuubuu says

    This is the second dish I’ve cooked from your website and just like the other it’s the best version of the dish I’ve ever tasted. I actually made it twice in one morning because the first time, after peeling and shredding and toasting the coconut and spices, I melted my spatula into it after picking up the wrong one :-O
    Now I want to try all your recipes. :)

  12. Shankari says

    Jus tried it and my husband loved it. Got a little spicy so I added some flour mixture. Very easy to make, you’ve solved my problem of hesitating to buy the ready channa masala . Lovely, thank you for posting

  13. Fran says

    Hi

    Just wondering, I can’t be certain how the fennel should be added. You say 1/2 tbsp.
    I assume you mean 1/2 tbsp of fennel seeds?

    Thanks!

  14. Nina says

    In the ‘other ingredients’ list you have mentioned bayleaf, asafoetida and green chilli. But none of these is mentioned in the recipe. Pls clarify when these should be added. Thanks.

    • says

      thanks nina for pointing out the mistake. i have updated the recipe detail. please check. green chili was already mentioned in step 20. do share your feedback once you try the chana masala recipe.

  15. says

    It is wonderful that you make the masala for the chana from scratch. The chana looks very tempting and in fact one almost feels like polishing it off right away from the screen!

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