chana masala recipe, how to make chana masala | chana masala recipes


this chana masala recipe is spicy and is made in south indian style. i have already posted punjabi style chana masala recipe on my blog.

as the name suggests, this chana masala recipe has south indian flavors. the hubby who loves his punjabi chole, relished this one too. so here, all the ingredients which are used in south indian cooking are added. 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 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 hot and spicy and goes well with rice, roti or poori. it can even go very well with bhature. if you are fond of chole bhature then you can consider serving this chana masala recipe with the homemade bhatura.

here i have dry roasted the whole spices with fresh grated coconut. then ground the spices and coconut into a fine paste. this dry roasting adds a lot of depth, aroma and flavor to the chana masala.

chana masala

i made the chana masala, very spicy by adding 4 dry red chilies. however, in the recipe details below, i have reduced the amount of red chilies. you can even reduce them further, if you don’t want to make it even a bit spicy.

you can use the same recipe and make the curry with black chickpeas, potato or green peas.

chana masala 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:

4.8 from 9 reviews
chana masala recipe
chana masala - spicy south indian chickpea curry with coconut.
CUISINE: south indian
INGREDIENTS (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
for pressure cooking the chickpeas:
  • 1 cup dried white chickpeas/kabuli chana
  • 3 cups water for pressure cooking the chana
  • 1 tsp salt
for roasting the masala
  • ¾ to 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp fennel
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1-2 dry red chilies (3 or 4 chilies would make the dish very spicy)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 1 small piece of stone flower/dagad phool (optional)
other ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 green chili, slit
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • ¼ or ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ inch ginger + 2-3 garlic - crushed or made into a paste in mortar-pestle
  • 1.5 to 2 cups of the chickpea stock or water
  • salt as required
  • some coriander leaves for garnishing
  1. soak the chana/chickpeas overnight or for 8-9 hours.
  2. pressure cook the chanas, water and salt till they have completely cooked.
  3. drain the chanas and keep the stock aside.
  4. in a frying pan, add all the whole spices mentioned under "roasting the masala" list, except coconut
  5. roast till the spices start emanating their aroma.
  6. then add the freshly grated coconut.
  7. roast till the coconut gets browned.
  8. keep on stirring so that the coconut does not get burned.
  9. once this mixture has cooled, grind in a chutney grinder with 1 cup water.
  10. grind to a smooth paste.
  11. heat oil in a pot or kadai.
  12. first splutter the mustard.
  13. add the bayleaf
  14. then add onions and fry till they are softened and become translucent.
  15. add curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric powder and ginger-garlic paste.
  16. stir and fry till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic disappears.
  17. add chopped tomatoes.
  18. saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring in between.
  19. add the ground masala paste and stir.
  20. add the drained chanas and slit green chili.
  21. stir and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  22. now add the stock or water.
  23. give a boil and then simmer for 5-6 minutes or more till the gravy thickens a bit.
  24. mash a few chanas with the sides of the spoon.
  25. this will help in thickening the gravy.
  26. check the seasoning and add more salt as per your taste.
  27. garnish chana masala with coriander leaves.
  28. serve chana masala hot with pooris, chapatis, bread or steamed rice accompanied with lemon & onion slices.

{ 55 Responses }

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 family just loved it.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. :)

  11. 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

  12. Fran says


    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?


  13. 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.

  14. 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!