Van Life Meals: #12 Incredibly Easy Chana Masala

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Easy Chana Masala in Under 30 Minutes

Before living on the road, Indian food was not a regular part of our diet. But almost three years later, we can honestly say that Indian food plays a frequent role in our van life kitchen and this quick and easy chana masala is a particular favorite. Indian works so well because so many dishes use simple fresh vegetarian ingredients, elevated with the clever use of spices and cooking techniques. Just like van life cooking, Indian cooking is about simplicity and flavor and often uses just one pot to make hearty dishes.

Chana masala was one of our earliest ventures into Indian cuisine. Since then, it has become a staple van life meal on the road.

If you haven’t tried chana masala before, I wouldn’t be surprised, its rarely promoted alongside the butter chicken, korma or even the saag paneer at your local Indian takeaway. Chana is the Indian word for a particular variety of chickpea (hands up if you didn’t even know there was more than one type!). Masala is simply spice in Indian. And chana masala is a dish of chickpeas and spices from the northern region of Indian. A rich and aromatic stew, this classic curry takes simple fresh, and healthy ingredients and turns them into something so much more.

What we love about this delicious and easy chana masala is just how easy it is. With only a handful of ingredients and some classic spices, you have a meal that will easily become one of your go-to weeknight meals!

Our recipe was inspired by Cookie & Kate, however, we tinkered with the spices and herbs to give it a little bit more flavor.

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cooking Time: 25 mins

Easy Chana Masala Ingredients

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp of olive oil (for cooking)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 chile, diced (remove flesh and seeds to reduce heat)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp of ground garam masala
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Lime (or lemon)

For Serving

  • Rice
  • Naan bread
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Lime (or lemon) wedge

Easy Chana Masala Method

Step 1: In a heavy cast iron pot, warm the oil over medium-low heat. Add the 1 diced red onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, and 1 diced chili to the pan. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft.

Step 2: Stir in the 2 teaspoons of ground garam masala, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of tumeric, a good grind of salt and pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional). Cook until fragrant or approximately 1 minute. Stir continuously.

Step 3: Next, add in the can of tomatoes and can of chickpeas to the pan and bring to a boil. Raising heat if necessary. When simmering, reduce the heat and allow to cook for an additional 15 minutes. Season with additional salt, pepper or cayenne if deemed necessary.

Step 4: Once cooked, turn off heat and add 3/4 of the chopped cilantro (coriander) bunch. The remainder will be used as fresh garnish. Squeeze the lime (or lemon) and stir until the cilantro and lime have been fully incorporated into the dish.

Step 5: Serve the chana masala over rice or with naan bread. Garnish the chana masal with the remaining cilantro and with lime (or lemon) wedges.

A bowl of easy Chana Masala a simple vegetarian Indian curry for van life
A bowl of easy Chana Masala a simple vegetarian Indian curry for van life

This delicious, quick and easy chana masala is one of our favorite go-to weekday van life meals. We are sure you will love it as well, and it will quickly become one of your go-to van life meals!

Read more for other great van life recipes:

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