Friday, June 1, 2012

Bhaiya's Chana Masala

Bhaiya, the cook in my parents home, has cooked for us for over 35 years. And this is his famous Chana Masala recipe. In fact, this basic onion-tomato sauce is a sauce I use for paneer, peas, mushroom and chicken too. It's very versatile… so this recipe is a keeper! 
Every Friday my husband likes to be vegetarian (in preparation for the weekend ahead) and this is one my go-to recipes for Fridays. 

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
6–8 fresh curry leaves
1 whole green chili, minced (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 large red onions, chopped into large pieces
2 large tomatoes, chopped into large pieces OR 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2-inch ginger root, peeled, minced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp mango powder
1/2tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup water

2 14-ounce can chick peas

1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 lemon, juiced
Salt, to taste


  1. Heat 1 tbsp in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Fry the curry leaves, green chili, cumin and mustard seeds until the seeds begin to pop
  3. Add the onion, tomato, garlic and 1/2 the ginger and fry for 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Add a sprinkle of salt at this stage to help the onions let its water out and cook faster. 
  4. Puree the onion mixture until smooth. 
  5. Return to the pot, add add the powdered spices– coriander, mango, cinnamon and gram masala. Mix well.
  6. Add the chick peas, lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil, cover and let it simmer for 10–15 minutes.
  7. Garnish with fresh cilantro and minced ginger.
Serve with hot naan. Yum! 
Thank you Bhaiya! 

Cooks note: You can make a large batch of the tomato sauce up until step #4. Freeze it in batches and then taste it with the spices as you like after that. Or even use it as a marinade for meats.


  1. yay.. been dying to make chana masala, always failed miserably like I do with Sai Bhaji :( ...this seems so simple. Will try this weekend.

    1. Let us know how it turns out. This is a simple masala to have handy– use it with paneer or other veggie too. Add spinach to the onion tomato mixture, puree it together and then add chicken or paneer for Palak Paneer.