Chana Masala

Chana Masala Recipe

Indian cuisine is one that makes use of a huge range of what are, on the face of it, expensive ingredients. This recipe for Chana Masala, for instance, uses a total of five spices plus a few other fresh ingredients; garlic, ginger and chilli. While the initial outlay for these flavourings may seem quite the investment, shopping carefully could mean that the spices you’ve bought will be enough for perhaps 40 similar dishes. Indian cuisine is probably the most frugal culinary avenue out there!

In Britain, at least, every supermarket has a spice aisle that stocks a fairly comprehensive array of commonly used spices in small jars. This is actually a very expensive way to purchase your spices; 38g of whole cumin will set you back at least 68p (£1.84 per 100g). However, if you visit large supermarkets or, preferably, your local Asian supermarket you can pick up a 400g bag of whole cumin for as little as £1.88 (47p per 100g). Shop carefully, spice buyers. Oh and always buy whole spices to toast and grind yourself, they will retain their flavour and stay fresh for longer.

Chana Masala Recipe

Being so simple and frugal, Chana Masala has become one of my favourite curries. However, as you can see from the spice list below it also possesses a great deal of flavour, from the base of cumin and turmeric all the way up to the fragrance of garam masala. The other benefit of Chana Masala is, of course, the short amount of time it takes to prepare. Indeed, you could be enjoying this fantastic curry a mere 20 minutes from now… the clock is ticking.

Chana Masala

Serves 4


• 2 red onions, finely sliced

• 3 tbsp vegetable oil, or similar

• 2 tsp whole cumin

• 1 tsp whole coriander seed

• 1 tsp turmeric

• 1 tsp garam masala

• 1 tsp paprika

• 2 dried red chillies, ground

• thumb sized piece of fresh ginger,finely minced

• 1 tin of whole plum tomatoes

• 100ml water

• 2 tins of chickpeas, or equivalent dried and cooked

• 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

• 1 tsp salt

• 2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced


1. Gently fry the sliced onions in the vegetable oil. Meanwhile, toast your whole spices and grind them into a fine powder along with the dried red chillies.

2. Once the onions are translucent tip in the ground whole spices, turmeric, garam masala, paprika and fresh ginger. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavour.

3. Tip in the water and tomatoes, cook for a further 5 minutes. Break the tomatoes down into small pieces before tipping in the chickpeas, garlic and salt. Allow to reduce for 10 minutes over a low heat.

4. Sprinkle with fresh green chillies before serving with rice or flatbreads and mango chutney/pickle.

Chana Masala Recipe Chana Masala Recipe

Cost: As mentioned above, once you’ve purchased all of the spices necessary to make delicious Indian food there is little further investment to be made for quite some time. This is particularly true when making a curry like Chana Masala because chickpeas are incredibly cheap compared to meat or even paneer. As such, this recipe should set you back no more than £1.50.

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42 comments on “Chana Masala

  1. Chica Andaluza
    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Beautiful – I think it’s my favourite curry! I should make it more often and your version is lovely.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      It’s definitely up there for me – it’s very frugal!

  2. Patch
    December 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    One of my favourite curries too….NOM!

  3. tableofcolors
    December 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Looks very tasty! Beautiful photos 🙂

  4. Willow @ Will Cook For Friends
    December 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Indian food is one of my favorites to throw together on a moments notice… I love the intensity of the spices, and many of the dishes (like this one) are super healthy, too. Your chana masala has my mouth watering!

    Great tip about spice buying, also. I typically buy my spices in bulk from a spice shop. It’s cheaper that way, fresher, and I can get the amount I want/need without having to buy a whole jar of something I don’t use very often. Fresh spices make all the difference!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Good to hear other’s buy their spices sensibly too – it just doesn’t make sense to buy them in small quantity!

  5. Karla @ Foodologie
    December 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    My favorite!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Quite a lot of people seem to say the same – I didn’t realise it was so popular!

  6. trixpin
    December 3, 2013 at 1:11 am

    What a great use for chickpeas. It looks delicious, and SO frugal!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Thank you – yes, it’s very frugal indeed!

      • trixpin
        December 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm

        Haha, I guess that’s the point 😆

  7. Eha
    December 3, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Love this! Make it often! But the most important part of the send is the fact of how to buy the spices!!!!!! DO shop around for the best spice merchant around you [and that need not be the best known one] and buy in bulk and use ‘in bulk’ 🙂 !

  8. thekalechronicles
    December 3, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I am quite fond of Chana Masala and will be trying your recipe in the new year.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Fantastic – I hope you enjoy it when you get around to it.

  9. Kathleen
    December 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Oh my gosh, Indian food is one of my FAVORITES!!!!! Especially when chickpeas are involved. 😉

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      I make a lot of Indian food – it is probably my favourite cuisine.

  10. spree
    December 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    One of my favorite foods of comfort Nick! You’ve done her proud!! Good on you my friend!

  11. taplatt
    December 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I love the big (cheap) bags of whole spices you can buy here. Definitely making this soon!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Me too – I’ve got a cupboard full of them. Still haven’t found dried mango powder though.

      • taplatt
        December 5, 2013 at 8:53 am

        I’ve never seen dried mango powder, either — though I can’t say I’ve actively looked for it. What would you use it for?

        • frugalfeeding
          December 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

          You just use it in recipes like this for a bit of added flavour.

          • taplatt
            December 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

            Cool. I tried this recipe last week and it turned out really well — I added cauliflower, which worked well with the chickpeas.

          • frugalfeeding
            December 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

            I’d say that sounds delicious, but I hate cauliflower 😀

          • taplatt
            December 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm

            Really?! You are missing out — or not, if you really hate it.

          • frugalfeeding
            December 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm

            I really do 😀 – my apologies!

      • Cheesy Biscuit
        December 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        Mmm, this looks goooood! Btw, you may already know, but often mango powder is labelled as amchoor, perhaps your local asian supermarket does sell it after all 😉

        • frugalfeeding
          December 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

          I do indeed and it doesn’t stock it for some reason 🙁 – thanks though!

  12. candies & crunches
    December 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    OMG! It looks YUMMY! I have to try it out! Thankfully, my hubby doesn’t like Indian food, I’ll have seconds! BINGO! Haha!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Thank you! He doesn’t like Indian food… weird :D. Lucky you.

  13. anna @ annamayeveryday
    December 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Just love things like this, totally delicious and perfect for this blustery weather.

  14. divaofdelicious
    December 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Oh the flavor you can add to the inexpensive legumes! This looks fantastic!

  15. lemongrovecakediaries
    December 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I just found your blog via The Little Loaf, intrigued by the name of your blog I came over for a visit. Love the concept of being more frugal, something I am definitely trying to adopt. Great recipe, I buy all my spices from our local Indian supermarket – so much cheaper than the supermarket.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 13, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Awesome – good to see you here. Great to hear you’re already savvy about purchasing spices!

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