Beans and Lentils/ Gluten Free/ Indian/ Vegan/ Vegetarian

Chana Masala Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce

Chana Masala Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce ~ The humble chickpea in a rich and vibrant tomato sauce seasoned by warm Indian spices.Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce} - The humble chickpea in a rich and vibrant tomato sauce seasoned by warm Indian spices ~ The Complete Savorist I must confess that for as much as I love and adore the humble chickpea now, it was one of those things I turned my nose up at, without even trying for many years. Chickpeas were not part of my food life growing up.  In fact, the only time I ever really saw them was in one of those multi-bean deli salads that always were over-vingeared and under-seasoned.  Hmm, that makes me wonder if I’d like it now, since vinegar is a new love too.  And don’t get me started on what I thought hummus looked like.It seems after I had my surgery my palate went through a radical change.  I immediately disliked certain things and liked others.  I was told this would be a side effect. To this day I don’t completely understand how rearranging my digestive track has ultimately affected what my taste buds enjoy.  Maybe I just grew up? Or my palate matured by force? Whatever the reason is, I am happy that chickpeas are now a regular part of my diet.

When I took a trip to the Midwest several years ago now, I was served chana masala for dinner.  I had seen this dish many, many times on the buffet station during lunch at my local favorite Indian restaurant and had enjoyed it.  I always viewed it as a side dish, not a entree.  But my friends are vegetarian.  This was dinner, along with roti, basically, a whole wheat version of naan.

Medically speaking, I must consume animal protein.  Eating meat is not a lifestyle choice for me anymore, it is a life-choice, sounds dramatic, but it’s true. But this dish, this is the one dish that always always flirts with me saying, ‘see, you can be a vegetarian…heck even vegan, you could eat me every single day and be happy.’ It’s true.

I made a LARGE batch of this, and I seriously ate it for every meal for almost 6 days, my palate NEVER tiring of it. (This should be the point I tell you I only eat around 1/2 cup of food, a bit more if I am really hungry in a meal, so a large batch of this for me, is like for 4, maybe 6 if used as a side dish for everyone else.)

I have learned (the hard way) that I cannot just eat this dish for my meal and be happy (i.e. healthy).  You can, if you have all your digestive parts arranged in the same way you were born with, you’re good to go for enjoying this dish as your entree.  Therefore, in order for me to enjoy (i.e. live off this dish for a week) I started cooking an egg and serving it on top of my bowl of chana masala.  I opted not to photograph it with an egg, to keep it both vegan and vegetarian, but if you want to enhance the already near-perfect state of this dish, a egg whose yolk cracks and runs into the sauce is downright nirvana.

Hope you all enjoy this dish as much as I do.

Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce} - The humble chickpea in a rich and vibrant tomato sauce seasoned by warm Indian spices ~ The Complete Savorist

Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce}

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Michelle De La Cerda


  • 2 cans of chickpeas (14-16 oz), drained and well rinsed
  • 2 red onions , finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic; minced/grated
  • 1 jalapeño; deseeded and minced finely; more for added heat
  • 1 green bell pepper; chopped finely
  • 1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder +/- (Indian, not Mexican)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp salt; according to taste
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp sugar; according to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro; divided in half
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime


  1. To a large pan, add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onion, peppers and garlic for 3 minutes.
  3. Add all the seasonings; allow to bloom or become fragrant
  4. Add the chickpeas and the tomatoes (with all their juices), mix well.
  5. Add the sugar, salt (by taste, a bit at a time), cilantro and lime.
  6. Combine and allow to come to a simmer.
  7. Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve.

Recipe Notes

This is great served spicy. I don't make it super spicy because my daughter nor my rearranged system can handle too spicy. But if you like bold, omit the bell pepper and use at least 3 jalapeños. Leave some seeds if you really want to make it with a kick.

Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce} - The humble chickpea in a rich and vibrant tomato sauce seasoned by warm Indian spices ~ The Complete Savorist Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce} - The humble chickpea in a rich and vibrant tomato sauce seasoned by warm Indian spices ~ The Complete Savorist

Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce} - The humble chickpea in a rich and vibrant tomato sauce seasoned by warm Indian spices ~ The Complete Savorist


Thank you for sharing!

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  • Reply
    Dan from Platter Talk
    February 3, 2015 at 10:53 am

    5 stars
    Congrats on creating this winner of a recipe using one of my favorite staples; this looks like a fantastic way to enjoy chickpeas!

    • Reply
      February 3, 2015 at 11:11 am

      If you love the chickpea, you will love this dish.

  • Reply
    Heidy L. McCallum
    February 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Chana Masala {Chickpeas in a Tomato Sauce} sounds amazing! Definitely not something my husband would eat—but I would be all over this like crazy!!! I can’t wait to make this ASAP!

    • Reply
      February 3, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Would a fried egg? That tends to make the meat eaters a bit happier. Hope you enjoy it. I truly love it.

  • Reply
    Melanie | Melanie Makes
    February 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    The perfect dish for a Meatless Monday – love how you’ve transformed the humble chickpea into an amazing main dish.

    • Reply
      February 3, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you Melanie, it would make a perfect Meatless Monday dish.

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    February 3, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Chana Masala IS my all time favorite recipe! I would eat it every day!

    • Reply
      February 3, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Glad to know I am not alone with eating it all the time! 🙂

  • Reply
    Linda (Meal Planning Maven)
    February 3, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    5 stars
    Chana masala is one o f my favorite vegan dishes and yours looks so flavorful! A must-try for me for sure!

    • Reply
      February 4, 2015 at 12:48 am

      It’s one of my absolute favorite vegan dishes as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    Miranda @ Cookie Dough & Oven Mitt
    February 4, 2015 at 6:49 am

    I’ve always been a lover of chick peas and the vinegary deli salad. lol This chana masala looks fantastic. I love that it’s fully loaded with chick peas!

    • Reply
      February 4, 2015 at 11:30 am

      LOL Miranda, I need to give that deli salad another try, I think I’d be a fan now.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Looks great Michelle!

  • Reply
    Joy @ Joy Love Food
    February 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I love chickpeas, this sounds delicious! Pinning and sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      February 5, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Thank you Joy! This is a great Indian dish and if you love chickpeas, you will love this.

      • Reply
        February 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm

        I’ll do a little more than say this looks good, (because it does)…Tried it. Loved it. Thanks for making what was going to be a throw-in-the-towel pancake night a lot tastier for me! Yum!

        • Reply
          February 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm

          Hey, anytime you got extra pancakes….They are my favorite…Ive yet to post my own recipe even. But thanks, I am glad you like it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jamie @ Coffee With Us 3
    February 5, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Looks yummy! I love chickpeas and basically every thing else in this!

    • Reply
      February 6, 2015 at 1:29 am

      Then this dish is for you!

  • Reply
    Gobi Matar Masala (Cauliflower and Peas)
    April 15, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    […] dish using the limited knowledge I have of the cuisine.  So of course, the base is similar to the chana masala recipe I made a while back, but still wonderfully delicious.  But this has fueled me to learn more […]

  • Reply
    February 26, 2016 at 6:24 am

    This looks delicious, so full of flavors! Yum!

  • Reply
    February 26, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I did not grow up eating chickpeas either… maybe they were considered exotic back in the 70s and 80s? LOL I will have to ask my mom sometime. Anyhoo, chana masala was the first Indian dish I learned to make and it looks like you knocked it out of the park! Yum!

  • Reply
    Justine | Cooking and Beer
    February 26, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I love that you’ve shared this recipe with us! I can’t wait to make it!

  • Reply
    Alisa @ Go Dairy Free
    February 26, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I can’t say that I ever turned my nose up at chickpeas, but never actually tried them until adulthood. They are honestly the one “bean” that I just adore. This recipe sounds like such a flavorful way to showcase them, too.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    chickpeas will always be one of my favorites… I love this recipe!

  • Reply
    Kacey @ The Cookie Writer
    February 26, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Are you my sister?! She has turned her nose up at so many things before trying and now she loves them, including chickpeas!! My husband may want to move in with a dish like this!

    • Reply
      Michelle De La Cerda
      February 26, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      It’s a winning dish for sure. Hope he loves it…and that you do too.

  • Reply
    Patricia @ Grab a Plate
    February 26, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    What a great meatless dish! I love chickpeas (always have — isn’t it funny how we’re all so different with our palates?), and I agree that this would be super-bad with an egg on top! Nice!

  • Reply
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking
    February 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Great notes on the spiciness! And I didn’t grow up with chickpeas, either. I’ve actually only ever used them in a cookie recipe. Time to change things!

  • Reply
    Cyndi - My Kitchen Craze
    February 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Oh my gosh I am so excited to try this recipe. My hubby is Pakistani so I love love chana masala. It is by far my favorite dish. I’ve never made it before. I normally always get it at the indian grocery stores or indian restaurants. So happy I can try my own. Looks amazing! Pinned!

  • Reply
    Andi @ The Weary Chef
    February 27, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    I haven’t this yet but I absolutely like chickpeas! Can’t wait to try it! Sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Joanie @ Zagleft
    February 29, 2016 at 8:47 am

    I love chickpeas and know I could enjoy eating this dish every single day of the week. I love the rich combination of spices and I’m looking forward to making this very soon.

  • Reply
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen
    February 29, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I enjoy chickpeas but find that I don’t use them much because I don’t know the best recipes to incorporate them into. Thanks for this new recipe. It looks delicious, and it’s a great new way for me to utilize chickpeas.

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