College is all fun and games until homesickness kicks in. The one aspect that I'm sure we can all relate to is missing Mom's cooking. Every now and then, I start craving Indian food, but always assume making it on my own would be too daunting of a task to tackle, given the seemingly endless list of spices and ingredients. This week, I built up the courage and gave it a shot with this chana masala recipe. 

Chana Masala, or chole, is a curry dish made with chickpeas cooked in a spicy tomato and onion based paste. My version may not taste as good as my Mom's, but cooking this dish surely conjured up fond memories from back home. 

Gather the ingredients below and follow along as I attempt to recreate my Mom's chana masala.


Sanam Patel

For this recipe, you'll need chickpeas, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, and green chili peppers (optional). For your whole spices, you can use cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, a cinnamon stick, and bay leaves, but these are optional as well. For your ground spices, you'll need salt, red chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala. Garam masala is a blend of ground spices that brings out the flavor in Indian cuisine. You can make it at home or buy it in the spice section at the supermarket.

Chana Masala

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:25 mins
  • Total Time:40 mins
  • Servings:3
  • Medium


  • 1.5 - 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 - 2 green chilis
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala or chana masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Lemon and cilantro for garnish
Sanam Patel
  • Step 1

    Add in one chopped onion and tomato along with ginger, garlic, and green chili pepper into a food processor and puree.

    Sanam Patel
  • Step 2

    In a medium pot, warm up oil and then add in the whole spices – cumin seeds, bay leaves, whole cloves, whole cinnamon stick (spices are optional).

    Sanam Patel
  • Step 3

    After the spices cook in the oil for a few minutes, add in other spices–garam or chana masala, turmeric powder, salt, and red chili powder. Stir the spices together.

    Sanam Patel
  • Step 4

    Add in the onion puree from before and a can of diced tomatoes into the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Sanam Patel
  • Step 5

    Once the gravy cooks for a few minutes, add in chickpeas and stir. Close lid and let the curry cook for 5-10 minutes.

    Sanam Patel
  • Step 6

    Add more salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and lemon.

    Sanam Patel

And there you have it–a simple Chana Masala recipe for you to try if you're ever feeling a little homesick or want to experiment with Indian cuisine.

It only took multiple phone calls and WhatsApp messages with my Mom to figure out how I wanted to approach this recipe. It turns out that making Indian food is not as daunting as it seems. I'll definitely be experimenting more with new recipes, and hope you give this one a shot.