Monday Musings… Chole (Chana) Masala

During these summer months while receiving my CSA (community supported agriculture) goodies I feel like I got into this swing of eating the veggies as is, with little mixing up of flavors, enjoying the freshness and distinct flavors of each veggie. While there is nothing wrong with this, I have not ventured into new recipes much, which I have missed.

Recently my friend Greg sent me a picture of a frozen dinner from Trader Joe’s that he was having for lunch. The picture included the ingredient list. The comment was something like; I think you could make this:

yep, this was the challenge
yep, this was the challenge

Usually I would have tasted this first to see if it was something I would like, but reading the ingredients list as best I could :), this sounded like good solid Indian goodness.

So I googled up the title of the dish and found some recipes that I thought I could work with and come up with of course my version. I was especially happy to have a dish that would use up my fresh tomatoes that have been abundant this summer. So if you have never tried an Indian spiced dish, give this a try. Remember you can always adapt the intensity of spice, by cutting back a little or adding more (as I often do). This dish is a palate pleaser and quite healthy. The chickpeas are full of protein, and fiber. The cooked down tomatoes bring out the lycopene present in them, making this heart healthy!

I am giving you pretty much the recipe I followed with my adaptations noted. In the recipe it calls for straining and chopping the tomatoes, but since I used fresh I just added them as is, not using extra water either. I used my frozen chickpeas that I had cooked up, making this dish also cheaper! I didn’t have all the spices exactly as the recipe called for. I adapted, and I added just a touch more of heat with some cayenne. If I would have had the serrano chiles I probably would not have needed it. I gave a shake of curry, I am not sure why, but it just sounded right to me 🙂 and the taste? Well I don’t have a reference point, but I sure enjoyed this! I put it over rice and added chopped cilantro. The second time around I actually put some chopped up kale in before I warmed it up!  Yep just added in more vitamins and protein!

The verdict from my friend who laid down the challenge? Yep, my version hit the mark, and maybe went over a little! 🙂 Ya!! Win, win. I have a new recipe, and now you do too! Thanks Greg!

My version of Channa Masala over rice with kale and cilantro
My version of Channa Masala over rice with kale and cilantro


For the chole masala:


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I omitted using water to sautĂ©)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I didn’t have seeds, but used powder, seeds would be better)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 4 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 2-inch piece)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and finely chopped (I only had one chile pepper)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices (I used fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning (I didn’t have kosher, used sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water (I didn’t use any extra water as the tomatoes were enough liquid)




For the chole masala:


  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles and season with kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the tomatoes and reserve the juices. Coarsely chop the tomatoes into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
  3. When the onions have softened, add the garam masala, coriander, measured salt, and turmeric to the frying pan and stir to coat the onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, their reserved juices, the chickpeas, and the water. Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.


 Serve over rice or with naan or chapatis.






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