North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew with Basmati Rice

North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew with Basmati Rice
Vegetables, Indian

This dish is very easy to prepare. Don’t be thrown by the amount of onion. A food processor is kinda critical with this one, though, in order to get the onions pureed gravy-style.

North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew


3 Cups Basmati Rice

1 29 oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

1 cup diced tomatoes

2 large red onions – chopped roughly (some reserved & chopped for garnish)

fresh cilantro (fresh coriander) – chopped for garnish

2 inch piece of fresh ginger – peeled & chopped

8 garlic cloves

3 jalapenos (some reserved & sliced thin for garnish)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS turmeric

1/4 tsp cinnamon

10 green cardamom pods – gently crushed under the flat side of a knife (to release their flavor)

3 bay leaves

6 TBS yogurt (or prepared raita – if you have it)

3 TBS garam masala

pinch of asefoetida (not critical – so don’t sweat it if you don’t have it)

2 TBS ground cumin

2 TBS ground coriander

1 tsp sugar (raw – preferably)

1 TBS tamarind paste

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

salt to taste

1 1/2 cup water


Puree: the red onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos & 1/2 cup water – into a paste in the food processor.

Heat: the oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium heat. Saute the cinnamon, bay leaves & cardamom pods for a minute then add the onion puree & tomatoes. Saute until the liquid begins to evaporate & the onions start changing color to – a nice pale brown.

Stir in the tamarind paste. One blended add: salt, sugar, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric & lemon juice. Stir this until blended then add the yogurt & stir in in until blended. The puree should now how a rich chocolate color.

Add the chick peas & the liquid from the can along with another cup of water. Simmer this on low for an hour or more. Be sure it doesn’t dry out. Add water if the rich gravy starts looking sparse. It should be a pretty wet stew – the gravy being the primary element here – rather than the chick peas.

Serve on individual plates over basmati rice & garnish with cilantro, red onion & sliced jalapeno.

Serve with mint chutney & a yogurt raita on the side – if you can. No worries if you cannot.



3 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan. Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting. I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old. You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent. After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended. Add 3 3/4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil. Use less water for firmer rice. Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you. Remove from heat. Fluff with a fork.