Chana Masala is an Indian-style curry traditionally made with garbanzo beans in a deliciously spiced tomato-based sauce. I adapted a recipe from Rainbow Plant Life’s blog (check her out – she’s so talented) and added some greens and cauliflower to boost the veggie content but kept the traditional spice profile using garam masala (a traditional Indian spice blend), cumin & mustard seeds, ground coriander and turmeric, and more. It is a true flavor bomb. In the best way possible.

I love packing my dishes full of veggies and am always looking for ways to add in as many possible, partly because it adds more nutrients to my dishes and partly (mostly) because it adds bulk to my meals and therefore I get to eat more! At the very least, I try to throw in a handful of baby greens to pretty much anything I eat because they cook so quickly and don’t take any prep. How can you sneak more veggies into your meals?!

I HIGHLY recommend making a batch of my amazingly delicious vegan garlic naan to go with your Chana Masala. It is so simple to make and is the perfect thing for soaking up all of that yummy sauce!

The recipe below involves making quinoa to put the Chana Masala over, but you can sub in any grain you like!

Chana Masala

(Serves 6)

For the quinoa (optional):
  • 1 ½ cups quinoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups water
For the aromatics and spices:
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons brown or black mustard seeds
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 
For the masala:
  • 2, 15 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (or ½ a large head), chopped into small florets
  • 1, 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1, 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut or brown sugar
  • 3 oz. baby spinach/kale or 1 bunch greens of choice

Order of Operations 

  1. Make the quinoa (optional). 
    1. Put 1 ½ cups quinoa, ½ teaspoon salt, and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. 
    2. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, keep covered, and set aside. 
  2. Prep the aromatics & veggies. 
    1. Finely chop the onions. Mince the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. 
    2. Chop the cauliflower and prep the greens.
  3. Make the masala.
    1. Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. 
    2. Once hot, add 2 teaspoons mustard seeds and 1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, until they begin to pop. 
    3. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño and sauté until soft, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. 
    4. Add the following spices to the pot, stir to combine, and let cook another 30 seconds, until very fragrant:
      • 3 bay leaves
      • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
      • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
      • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
      • 1 tablespoon garam masala
      • ½ teaspoon black pepper 
    5. Add the following ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil:
      • 2, 15 oz. cans of garbanzo beans
      • Chopped cauliflower florets
      • 1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
      • 1, 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
      • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
      • ½ cup water
      • 2-3 teaspoons coconut or brown sugar
    6. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes, until cauliflower is fork tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. 
    7. Stir in spinach/greens and let wilt. Season to taste.
    8. Serve over quinoa. 

Grocery Shopping Checklist

  • Quinoa, white or red, 1 ½ cups
  • Onion, 1 large yellow or white
  • Garlic, 4 large cloves
  • Ginger, 1 inch piece
  • Jalapeno pepper, 1 
  • Cauliflower, 1 small head
  • Baby spinach or kale (or sub greens of choice), 3 oz. or 1 bunch
  • Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), 2, 15 oz. cans or about 3 cups cooked
  • Diced tomatoes, 1, 14 oz. can 
  • Crushed tomatoes, 1, 14 oz. can
  • Coconut or brown sugar, 2-3 teaspoons
  • Avocado oil

Dried Herbs and Spices 

  • Cumin seeds (or sub ground cumin)
  • Brown or black mustard seeds
  • Bay leaves, 3
  • Turmeric
  • Garam masala
  • Coriander
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Equipment needed for this recipe:

  • Cutting board & sharp knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Can opener
  • Large pot with lid (for masala)
  • Medium saucepan with lid (for quinoa)
  • Large spoon to stir