Chana Masala is a popular vegetarian Indian curry made with chickpeas (chana). I am sharing a vegan, gluten-free, and zero oil chana masala recipe. It is just perfect to dip naan, poori, chapati, or jeera rice. You can make this chickpeas curry in an instant pot or pressure cooker.
About Chana Masala…
Over the years chana masala has become a widely popular Indian curry among vegan food lovers. Because:
- it is a fantastic, inexpensive plant based protein
- gluten-free, and vegan
- instant pot, pressure cooker, and slow cooker friendly
- highly customizable
- freezer and meal-prep friendly
- chickpeas (chana) are easily available
The authentic chana curry is prepared with the white chickpeas, spices, salt, onion, and tomato.
In India, spicy chole masala is served with deep-fried bhatura or kulcha also known as chana – kulcha. Often the curry is loaded with potatoes, green chilies, onion, or green chutney. That combination is totally tantalizing. And leads you to the stage of food coma.
Chana Masala is a versatile curry that compliments almost all the sides served with it. And in our house, it is one of the most loved curries.
My Zero Oil Chana Recipe
This is a special Delhi style chole masala recipe tried and tested over the years. The USP of this curry recipe is that it requires zero oil or fat. Yes, you heard it right. It is a zero oil chana masala recipe.
I would not say that my chana recipe is better than the one served at the pushcarts across India or it is an authentic version. But it is definitely a bookmark worthy recipe that always yields finger-licking good chana curry with minimal time in the kitchen.
On many occasions, I have cooked these zero oil chana for parties and family get-togethers, and every time won so many compliments for the taste and texture of the curry.
For me, the best part about this chana recipe is there is not much cutting, chopping, and prep-work involved. All you need to have the requisite spices in the pantry. The flavor profile of the dish is defined by the right combination of spices added while preparing it.
If you will read this chana masala recipe, a thought might occur to you – there is a hell lot of spices required. But trust me on this one, all the spices mentioned in the recipe, contribute towards the flavor of the dish. Each ingredient in the list has a crucial role to play.
How To Perfectly Boil Chickpeas For Chana Masala?
I have used the Indian style stovetop pressure cooker to perfectly boil the chickpeas. You can do the same in an instant pot or electric pressure cooker.
Follow these steps to get perfectly boil chickpeas each time:
Soak Chickpeas: Rinse and soak chickpeas in water for 5 – 6 hours before boiling. This reduces cooking time to almost half and makes chickpeas plum in size. They absorb the curry juices so well after soaking.
Boil Chickpeas: Drain water from the soaked chickpeas or use the same water. And add 2 – 3 cups more. Do not add too much water. The ideal ratio is 1:2, one cup of chickpeas to two cups of water. Season the water with salt. And at last, don’t forget to add the whole spices while boiling chickpeas. The flavor of the whole spices gives an earthy taste to the chickpeas.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker: In a stovetop pressure cooker, chickpeas take 4 – 5 whistles over low heat to get boiled.
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker: Set the pressure cooker mode. Add soaked chickpeas along with water, whole spices, and salt in the inner pot. Close the lid. Set the steam valve to sealing mode. Pressure Cook chickpeas for 10 – 15 minutes.
To Add/Or Not Tea Leaves In Chana Masala?
Many cooks prefer adding tea leaves or tea bags while boiling chickpeas. This is totally optional. Why are tea leaves added? To give a nice dark brown color to the chickpeas for the curry. That is the only reason to add tea leaves.
In my recipe, this step is skipped. I believe the true natural color of the dish comes from the spices like anardana powder (pomegranate seeds powder) and garam masala.
Can I use canned chickpeas?
Yes, you can use canned chickpeas for making this curry. Make sure to discard the liquid present in the can or the tin. Rinse the chickpeas with running water and let them sit on a colander or sieve for 10 – 15 minutes.
Watch Chana Masala Recipe Video:
More Indian Curry Recipes For You:
If you try this recipe and love it, please leave a comment and a rating. This helps us grow and reach many other food lovers like you, who are looking for a perfect tried and tested recipe.
Zero Oil Chana Masala
- Heavy Bottom Kadhai
Ingredients For Boiling:
- 1 Cup white chana/chole (chickpeas)
- Salt to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 2 cloves (laung)
- 1 Cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 4 Cup water
Spices For Chana Masala:
- 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
- 1 teaspoon anardana powder (pomegranate seeds powder)
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder (saunf)
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder (dhaniya)
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala see recipe here
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder (jeera powder
Other Ingredients For Chana Masala
- 1/4 Cup kasuri methi
- 1 green chili, sliced
- an inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 Cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
How To Boil Chana (Chickpeas)
- Clean, wash, and soak chana overnight in water or for 5 – 6 hours. Next day drain water, transfer chana in a colander.
- Add soaked chickpeas in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water, whole spices, onion, ginger paste, and salt.
- Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook chickpeas until soft. For me, it takes 3 -4 whistles over a low flame. In IP, it takes 15 minutes in a pressure cook mode.
- Allow the steam to release naturally from the pressure cooker. Open the lid, discard the whole spices
- Transfer chickpeas into a large bowl. Reserve water in which chickpeas were cooked.
How To Cook Chana Masala
- Heat heavy-bottomed pan over low flame. Add asafoetida, anardana powder, coriander powder, and fennel powder. Dry roast the spices for 10 – 20 seconds to release the aroma.
- Add boiled chickpeas, cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, salt, and reserved boiled chickpea water. Stir to combine. Gently mash the chana using the back of a spoon or ladle to thicken the gravy.
- Cover the pan with a lid. Let chana masala simmer over low heat for the next 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add ginger, green chili, kasuri methi, coriander, and lemon juice. Stir to mix nicely. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- You can use canned chickpeas as well to make chana masala.
- Adding onion is optional in this chole recipe.
- Use dry mango powder if anardana powder is not available. But the color of the chana masala will not be the same.
- You can add a teaspoon of chana masala powder as well for aroma and taste.
- Allow the boiled chana to simmer in the spices for some time to absorb the juices of the masala.