Recipe: Chana Masala

By Liz A. RSS Mon, December 14, 2015

This recipe is from Leanne Brown’s book Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. The book began as a project for her master’s degree in food studies at New York University to explore what eating well on a SNAP (food stamp) budget could look like—and from there, it went viral. The book is a great resource for anyone who wants to cook delicious food that doesn’t break your budget. We use the book in many of our classes at the Culinary Literacy Center and hosted Leanne for a demonstration and book signing in October 2015.

You can find if as a FREE downloadable PDF at

Chana Masala
Serves 2


  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tablespoon ghee or ½ tablespoon butter, plus a splash of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 1 cup puréed canned tomatoes
  • 2 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained or 2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, drained


  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Yogurt


1. Combine the coriander, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, smoked paprika, if using, and salt in a small bowl.

2. Melt the ghee in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it begins to sizzle, add the cumin seeds and stir for about 5 seconds, until you can smell them.

3. Add the onion and saute until it’s a little soft, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Add the ginger and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute longer.

6. Add the spice mixture you made earlier, then the puréed tomatoes.

7. Mix, then put a lid on the pan and let everything cook down, 5 to 10 minutes.

8. Once the tomato has reduced and the ghee starts to separate from the sauce, add the chickpeas and ½ cup of water. Stir, bring it to a boil, and then decrease the heat to a simmer.

9. Cook for 10 minutes, and then squish a few chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce before serving.

10. Garnish with the cilantro and yogurt.

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