Creamy Chana Masala

4.0 from 6 votes


By Ollie Cartwright

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Chickpea curry often gets overlooked – but it’s simple and tasty in my Creamy Chana Masala. When most of us think of curry, we think of madras, tikka, korma or jalfrezi. But this recipe is a surprise delight!

Creamy Chana Masala

If you’ve never had or heard of chickpea curry, then I know it can sound like a health fad. But that couldn’t be further from the truth – especially with my recipe. It’s super creamy, loaded with spices you’re familiar with and packed full of flavour.

Can You Make Chana Masala With Dried Chickpeas?

Yes, but they’ll need to be soaked overnight and then boiled until tender before using them in the recipe.

How to Make Creamy Chana Masala

A detailed recipe with full quantities can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.

Step 1: Heat either oil or ghee in a large pan over medium heat, then toast the cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Your kitchen should be filled with the aromatic scent of cumin. You can then pop your onions into the pan and let them soften.

Toast Cumin Seeds

Step 2: Add ginger, garlic, and chillies once the onion has turned translucent and is soft. You only need to cook these for around 2 minutes. You can then add your tomatoes to the pan.

Cook Onion Ginger Garlic and Chillies

Step 3: It’s now time to build on the spices so stir in the remaining spices. You’ll want to use turmeric, chilli powder and ground coriander. You can add other spices at this point if you wish to such as cardamom pods, mustard seeds, fenugreek or cinnamon sticks.

Add Tomatoes and Spices 1

Cook these spices down for 5 minutes or so. You should have a thick, tomato paste in the pan at this point.

Step 4: It’s time to add the star of the dish… Chickpeas! Tip your chickpeas into the pan and stir to ensure they’re evenly coated. Let them sit in the pan for a few minutes to absorb plenty of the spices.

Add Chickpeas

Step 5: Pour in around 150ml of coconut milk to turn this into a curry. If it’s a little thick, then you can loosen this with more coconut milk or water. Cook for a few minutes until it is at your desired consistency and hot through.

Add Coconut Milk

Step 6: Finally, add a sprinkle of garam masala and amchur (if you can get it, if not use lemon juice). Season with a pinch of salt and simmer for a final 5 minutes before enjoying it.

Serve Chickpea Curry

Serve this like a curry alongside steamed basmati rice and naan bread. If you want to have a go at making your bread, then try these flatbreads (they only require three ingredients).


Ultimately, chana masala is chickpeas cooked in masala spices, and that’s precisely what my base recipe is. But there are a few variations of this you can make:

  • Stir Though Spinach: Towards the end of the cooking, add a handful of spinach and stir to wilt and you’ve created chana saag.
  • Add Potatoes: Parboil some potato cubes until just cooked and stir them into the spices when you add the chickpeas to make aloo chana masala.
  • Bulk It Out: To some, a pile of chickpeas isn’t really substantial enough for dinner. Add some shredded chicken if you’re desperate for meat. If not, a few cubes of pan-fried paneer work well.


As with all the recipes on Freeze It, this is perfect for storing for the future. If you want it within the next few days, pop it in the fridge; if not, freeze it:

Refrigerate: Transfer the chana masala to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. The flavours may deepen over time, enhancing the taste.

Freeze: Cool the chana masala completely, then portion it into freezer-safe bags or containers. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 months for best quality.

Reheat: For refrigerated chana masala, microwave or reheat in a pan until hot throughout. For frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight and then heat on the stovetop or microwave until thoroughly warmed.

Why Is My Chana Masala Bitter?

The bitterness in chana masala can be due to burnt spices or over-toasted cumin seeds. Additionally, using unripe or overly mature tomatoes can taste bitter. Adjusting the heat and ensuring fresh ingredients can help prevent this.

Creamy Chana Masala Recipe

4.0 from 6 votes
Course: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



This is my freezer-friendly version of creamy chana masala

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  • 400 g 14 oz – Tinned Chickpeas, Drained

  • 2 2 – Onions, Finely Chopped

  • 3 3 – Tomatoes, Finely Diced

  • 3 3 – Garlic Cloves, Grated

  • 2 tsp 2 tsp – Ginger, Grated

  • 2 2 – Green Chillies, Finely Chopped

  • 150 ml 5/8 cup – Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp – Oil or Ghee

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp – Cumin Seeds

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp – Turmeric Powder

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp – Chilli Powder

  • 2 tsp 2 tsp – Ground Coriander

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp – Garam Masala

  • 1 tsp 6 tsp – Amchur (or Juice of Half a Lemon)

  • – Salt


  • Sauté the Aromatics
    Heat oil or ghee in a large pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they’re translucent.
  • Add Ginger, Garlic, and Chillies
    Stir in the minced garlic, grated ginger, and green chillies. Sauté until the raw smell disappears, about 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix well.
  • Spices
    Stir in turmeric, red chilli powder, and coriander powder. Cook until the oil starts separating from the masala or the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Chickpeas
    Add the drained chickpeas to the pan, stirring to coat them in the masala.
  • Creaminess
    Pour in the coconut milk or heavy cream and mix well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Final Touches
    Add garam masala and amchur (or lemon juice) and season with salt. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Recipe Video

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