chana masala

Life seems busier than usual. I feel like I’m swallowed by work and while I’m not complaining one bit, it makes day to day tasks a bit more difficult. I usually do most of the grocery shopping, but as I was swamped in HTML code and design dilemmas, I had asked my husband to pick up a few things. Like a can of tomatoes. It seemed easy enough, a no-brainer.

A few days later, I decided to try out a recipe that I had bookmarked ages ago. A delicious-sounding chana masala from Orangette. I had everything so I got right to work. The onions in this recipe do take some time to caramelize, but other than that, this recipe is a snap. Easy to make at the end of a week filled with hard work.

After I had sauteed the spices, I opened the can of tomatoes and suddenly realized that my husband had purchased crushed tomatoes rather than whole tomatoes. Crushed is just another word for pureed into oblivion. I never buy crushed tomatoes and truthfully, I was crushed. It had been a long week and now I was worried about a kink in my plans. But I dumped them in and continued. The result? Delicious. Intensely flavoured with tomato and beautifully spiced with the garam masala and cardamom, it was a great meal. Cornelius topped off his plate with yogurt while I went with a squeeze of lemon. What? Me worry?

34 comments to “chana masala”

  1. 1
    beentsy   November 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Mmmm, that looks good. It also reminds me that I still need to try my hand at making Kushari. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  2. 2
    tara   November 15, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    One of my all-time comfort meals, and this looks delicious.

  3. 3
    VeggieGirl   November 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Ahhh, my absolutely favorite Indian meal!!

    Hang in there with the busyness!!

  4. 4
    Bijoux   November 15, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Chick peas never disappoint! I especially like chick peas with spicy sauces and I bet this dish has some real good spice to it. I always get a can of whole tomatoes and a can of crushed tomatoes. The latter is used for pizza sauce while the former is used for stews/soups but both can be used interchangeably, me thinks 🙂

  5. 5
    Dawn   November 15, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I haven't had this in ages. How I miss it though. Looks so good.

  6. 6
    The Nervous Cook   November 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Chick peas are one of the greatest little food pleasures of the world, and this dish looks fantastic. I'll have to give it a whirl using the heirloom garbanzo beans I bought from Rancho Gordo — I've been dying to use them!

  7. 7
    Daily Spud   November 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    This is so up my street. I'm an absolute sucker for anything chana masala-like (or anything with chickpeas, for that matter) and plopping yogurt on top is definitely my style.

  8. 8
    Natty   November 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Are you now a crushed convert? Whenever I open a can of them, I usually end up eating about 1/4 of the can before it winds up in anything. Same goes for pinto beans.

    I think I just outed myself as a canned food weirdo.

  9. 9
    kendal croix   November 15, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    yummm. that looks like exactly what i need right now.

  10. 10
    kirsten   November 15, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    We're using crushed around here these days because that's the only kind you can get in a glass bottle. They still line cans with BPA plastic, so I'm afraid if I want whole canned tomatoes, I have to preserve my own. Which I plan on doing next summer, yes indeedy.

  11. 11
    Dana   November 15, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I actually think the crushed might have worked better here. I have heard that you should always buy whole tomatoes because they use the rejects for the diced and the crushed. But sometimes you just need crushed. I could just dive into that pot. Some of my all-time favorite things are in there.

  12. 12
    Maija   November 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Love this recipe! It is quite easy, too, once the onions get done and if you line up all the spices ahead of time.

    And yes, it is pretty fail-proof – I've used whatever type of canned tomatoes I've had on hand, even Italian stewed once (oops!). It's great with naan on the side – Trader Joe's has a pretty decent frozen one.

  13. 13
    Amy   November 15, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    This recipe is extremely similar to one I make, but I use lentils. I have a really great chickpea curry recipe that I have made SO many times, but I am more than happy to try a new one. Oh how I do love the chickpea.

  14. 14
    Joanne   November 16, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Haha way to make the best out of a (not so) bad situation. Husbands. Can't live with them or without them.

    Looks delicious, i love that color.

  15. 15
    Ellen   November 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    What do you have against crushed tomatoes? We don't like chunky tomatoes in stuff so I almost always used crushed in puree for marinara sauce, etc unless I've accidentally bought other! Recipe looks good. Chana masala is a fav here! I just made some a while ago with a fresh chopped tomato.

  16. 16
    The Gypsy Chef   November 16, 2009 at 7:45 am

    This looks amazing! I love chana masala…the pic is beautidul. Thanks for sharing, I will have to make this tonight!

  17. 17
    Cookie baker Lynn   November 16, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Oh, I relate. It's always a bit chancy asking my husband to pick up stuff at the store. I'll write out size, brand, description, and he'll still manage to come home with something different. But often times, it's an improvement, too.

    The looks like a wonderful dish for a rainy, chilly evening. Are you having any of those?

  18. 18
    incrediblecrunchyflavor   November 16, 2009 at 8:58 am

    where do you find things like cumin seeds, garam masala paste and cardamom pods? i love indian food and want to make it, but some of these ingredients are hard to find. any way to get around that?

  19. 19
    bellcurves   November 16, 2009 at 9:15 am

    I'm a huge fan of chickpeas, and also Indian curries. So not surprisingly, I love chana masala, and am interested in trying this. It's perfect food anytime–but it's especially perfect when the weather turns cool and rainy (or snowy). Comfort food!

  20. 20
    littlehouse   November 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Oh, thanks so much for this! Yum Yum!
    (this is Flikr Kate by the way 🙂

  21. 21
    Jeff @ Little Rock Catering   November 16, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Looks yummy! will try this tonight for our dinner… thanks for sharing your recipe.

  22. 22
    hannah | honey & jam   November 17, 2009 at 7:52 am

    That looks delicious, I love chickpeas. I love that Orla Kiely plate too!

  23. 23
    kickpleat   November 18, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Beentsy, I tried a recipe last night that was much easier than the kushari and quite similar. I'll be posting it soon.

    Thanks Tara, it's comfort all the way.

    Thanks VeggieGirl!

    Bijoux, I guess pureed tomatoes have their place, and who knew it would be in this dish.

    Thanks Dawn. Time for a revisit?

    Mmm, naan would be perfect with this, Maija.

    Nervous, I'm one day going to go to SF and get some of those beans! I've heard so much about them.

    Amy, I love the chickpea too.

    Daily Spud, well I definitely think you'd enjoy this dish. Why not dice up a few potatoes to add with it? I think it would be delicious.

    Natty, I was won over with the crushed tomatoes. Who knew! And yes, you are definitely a weirdo!

    Thanks Kendal.

    Ellen, I have no idea why I never buy crushed and I'll have to try it in marinara. I'm convinced!

    Kirsten, so true!

    Dana, I think that may have been part of my snobbery to anything other than whole. The crushed did work beautifully here.

    Indeed, Joanne 🙂

    Thanks Gypsy, hope you loved it!

    Lynn, well I think we can call this one an a success. Rainy, chilly evenings? Uh, definitely.

    CrunchyFlavor, I'm able to find them in my local markets. I'm in a large city so ethnic foods are very easy to find. However, I'm sure you can buy spices and spice pastes online. Even Amazon sells the garam masala paste I use.

    Bellcurves, it's indeed comfort and it's relatively easy to make.

    Enjoy, littlehouse!

    Thanks Jeff. Enjoy your dinner.

    Hannah, I love that plate a lot too!

  24. 24
    Ashley   November 19, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    This looks like it'd be perfect with some yogurt – yum!

  25. 25
    kickpleat   November 20, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Ashley, I liked it with lemon & my husband preferred yogurt. Your call.

  26. 26
    eatme_delicious   November 25, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Mmm delicious I love chana masala. I always buy crushed tomatoes and never canned whole tomatoes!

  27. 27
    kickpleat   November 25, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Eatme, well, maybe I'll start buying them too. They really worked well here.

    Lydia, a spice mix is just fine here! It will be great, no worries. Also, I saw you and waved at you (but you didn't see me) on our way to the border this weekend. We saw you Saturday morning on Knight St!

  28. 28
    Lydia   November 25, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I've never had this dish or bought garam masala, and I just realized upon re-reading that I bought a spice mix rather than a paste. (And here I thought I was doing so well.) Is that a big deal or will it work out like your canned tomatoes did?

  29. 29
    buericana   December 31, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I'm trying this recipe tonight and was very excited. However, my chickpeas do not seem to be getting soft. Were they supposed to get soft? At restaurants, I always prefer my chana masala to be soft. Very bummed.

  30. 30
    kickpleat   December 31, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    buericana, I've never eaten chana masala before this so i had nothing to compare it to. no, my chickpeas didn't get soft. For that you probably should soak and cook the chickpeas until they get soft (i'm guessing, i have no idea!).

  31. 31
    Bess   April 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I loved this recipe. I made it to go along with some barbecued pike and it was fantastic. My husband was nervous about caramelizing the onions, but I persevered and it turned out perfect. Full of flavour. I had no issues with the chickpeas. And best of all, plenty for lunch tomorrow.

  32. 32
    shakti   July 2, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Could somebody please tell me why kosher salt? Does it make a big difference? There are so many alts and I try to avoid them BUT have bit of lo-salt or savoury salt if I must but kosher?
    Does it sound awfully ignorant to ask if it is from the dead sea?

  33. 33
    kickpleat   July 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Shakti, I use kosher salt because I think it has a purer taste than other salts. It’s also easier to ‘pinch’ since it has a coarser texture. It also is less dense so you can’t substitute regular table salt for kosher – if you do, use 1/2 less table salt. You can learn more here:

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