Spice!

This classic Indian dish comes together in just 20 minutes.

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Oil-Free Indian Chana Masala

One of my favorite Indian dishes is chana masala (“chana” means chickpeas, and “masala” means spice), but too often the ones you order at restaurants are very heavy on the oil. So I like to make my own, and by using canned chickpeas, this oil-free version of the classic Northern Indian dish comes together in about 20 minutes. The key to great Indian food is, of course, the spices, and the garam masala is this recipe’s secret weapon. This ubiquitous Indian spice is a blend of cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamon—and adds so much depth and flavor to the relatively simple lineup of ingredients. Make it tonight!

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

What you do:

  1. Into a large pot over medium heat, heat 1/2 cup water. Add garlic, onion, and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add remaining 1½ cups water, tomatoes, tahini, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Stir until tahini is incorporated. Add chickpeas and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Transfer to serving bowls and top with chopped cilantro. 

Healthy hints:


  • >> I like to serve my chana masala with quinoa or steamed greens. You can even add a handful of greens during the last few minutes of cooking!
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  • >> Turmeric adds color, flavor, and health benefits. I add turmeric to my diet any chance I get!
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  • >> This dish makes the perfect weeknight meal, but is also fun to serve to guests.