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This delicious Black Chana Masala is an easy to make chickpea curry made with black chickpeas. It's bursting with flavor and is a healthy Meatless Monday vegetarian dinner recipe.
Also, try our paneer butter masala!
Friends! I've made us chana masala!
with some extra tiny and borderline adorable black chickpeas all wrapped in the most delicious and fragrant curry sauce. I could seriously eat this every day, all day, yes please and thank you.
And since chana masala (and really every curry) is basically THE BEST MEAL PREP EVER, you can eat dinner and have all the lunches all week long. This pot of deliciousness keeps getting better.
- black chana masala
- + a pot of rice
- + some warm and soft naan (bought from the Indian restaurant down the street or the freezer section of your grocery store or homemade if you are a domestic goddess)
- = blissfully easy delicious food all week.
See those chickpea looking nuggets up there? ☝
Those babies are black chickpeas. Or Kala Chana. Or Bengal Gram. (So many names!) I call them black chickpeas.
They look a lot like regular chickpeas only they're smaller and darker. They're dark brown when dried and they lighten up a little when cooked. They're a little heartier than white chickpeas and not quite as creamy.
Note: I've never seen canned black chickpeas. If you want to skip the couple hours of cooking (plus an overnight soak) then you can sub canned white chickpeas. This way you'll make chana masala rather than black chana masala.
Note #2: If you buy a bag of dried black chickpeas, you can use the rest in this Vegan Dal Makhani recipe. It's so good!
Chickpea Curry Heaven
I need you to promise me something … whatever you do, don't rush cooking your chana masala. It's an easy dish to make (super easy!) but you need to properly cook the masala. ← That's the fancy word for the onion/ garlic/ tomato/ spice mixture.
You want to caramelize the onions well. If you're in a hurry, you won't get all the sweet flavor. Then the tomato paste needs to caramelize. This only takes a couple of minutes, but if you rush past this step you miss the sweetness. Then the spices need to cook in the pan to bring out all the flavor they have.
Did you see that picture up there? That's what your pan should look like after the onions, garlic, ginger, and chilis have finished cooking. That's what you should aim for. That's where most of the flavor lives.
- 2 cups dried black chickpeas (or 6 cups cooked black or regular chickpeas)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 large onion (finely minced)
- Pinch of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon each: mustard and cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1-2 green chilis (finely minced (remove seeds for a less spicy chili. I used serrano chilis.))
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons each: coriander and garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Place the dried chickpeas in a large pot and fill it with water. Let it sit overnight on your counter, or for 8-24 hours. Drain the chickpeas and add fresh water to the pot. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours, or until the chickpeas are soft. Drain and set aside.2 cups dried black chickpeas
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and let it cook until it's soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the baking soda to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is dark brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and chilis to the pan and cook until a dark brown paste forms, about 5 minutes more. (See the pictures in the post to see what it should look like.)2 tablespoons oil, 1 large onion, Pinch of baking soda, 1 teaspoon each: mustard and cumin seeds, 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger, 4 cloves garlic, 1-2 green chilis
- Push this onion paste to the side of the pan and add the tomato paste. Let it caramelize until is smells sweet and darkens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the coriander, garam masala, and turmeric to the pan and let it cook for 1 minute more.2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons each: coriander and garam masala, 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Add the diced tomatoes to the pan and gently break them up with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. You want some texture here, just not big chunks of tomatoes. Add the cooked chickpeas, sea salt, and a ½ cup of water to the pan and let it simmer for a half hour. If you're serving this with rice, now is the time to start cooking it.28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- Season with extra sea salt if needed and stir in the cilantro and lemon juice just before serving.1 cup chopped cilantro, Juice of 1 lemon
Prep time does not include the time you'll need to soak the chickpeas.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.