Vegetarian Chana Masala With Spinach

Chana masala spicy chickpeas with spinach recipe

Emily Hawkes for The Spruce

  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 3 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
414 Calories
18g Fat
53g Carbs
16g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 414
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 291mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 11g 40%
Protein 16g
Calcium 239mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chana masala with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and spinach is a vegetarian and vegan variation of a traditional and popular Indian food dish. Simple Indian vegetarian recipes such as this one make it so easy to have a home-cooked Indian meal with very little effort. Pair it with rice or an Indian bread like chapati or naan, or with rice.

This recipe is simplified for Western cooks, with more common spices and ingredients you can find at most well-stocked large grocery stores. If you don't have all the spices on hand, it's OK to omit one of them without too much trouble, but don't omit more than two or you will have a completely different (and bland) dish on your hands. A more traditional chana masala recipe would call for a few ingredients such as amchur (dried mango powder) and pomegranate seeds that can only be sourced either online or at a local Indian grocery.

The recipe also keeps it simple by using canned chickpeas, which are also called garbanzo beans. But if you prefer, you can start with dried beans and cook them. You will need 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas to yield the same amount as in a 16-ounce can.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (diced)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas (undrained, or 1 1/2 cups precooked chickpeas plus 1/2 cup water)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from one lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pound spinach (a large bunch or two handfuls, rinsed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for chana masala
    Emily Hawkes for The Spruce
  2. In a large skillet or frying pan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.

    Saute onions and garlic in olive oil
    Emily Hawkes for The Spruce 
  3. Add chickpeas straight from the can, including all the water.

    Add chickpeas
    Emily Hawkes for The Spruce
  4. Add lemon juice, curry powder, coriander powder, ground cumin, and garam masala. Simmer about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more water if needed until chickpeas are cooked and soft.

    Chickpeas in pan
    Emily Hawkes for The Spruce
  5. Reduce the heat, add spinach and cover. Allow spinach to wilt for 2 to 4 minutes.

    Add spinach
    Emily Hawkes for The Spruce
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy your chana masala.

    Serve
    Emily Hawkes for The Spruce

A dish like this should be served with either plain white rice, simple Indian basmati rice, Indian lemon rice, or, if you want the extra protein boost, quinoa. But another alternative is to serve it with warm Indian bread such as naan, roti, or chapati. Those are excellent for dipping into the mixture.

Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy them within three to five days. Chana masala is perfect for freezing and taking to the office for lunch later, so make a double batch if you'd like. It will retain the best quality in the freezer for three to six months and reheats easily in the microwave. Be sure to label the container with the date and contents.

For a heartier chana masala, toss in some tofu with the chickpeas and serve over rice.

Spices


Both curry powder and garam masala are mixtures of spices. You could make your own blends if you find yourself cooking with them often. Made with freshly roasted and ground spices, the flavor is far more intricate and delicious.