Pantry raid: Chana Masala

I can't claim credit for this term; my housemate came up with it for me and immediately started giggling because, y'know... never mind. Obviously we have the maturity level of teenagers.  

Lately, I've found myself cooking a lot of dishes with nothing more than pantry staples - mostly because I just can't be bothered going to the shops. I figured that I'm unlikely to be the only one in this situation, so I thought I'd share those recipes here.

Today's recipe, as you may have guessed, is Chana Masala, an Indian chickpea curry. This recipe is adapted from the Minimalist Baker's blog.  

In the recipe below, I've listed what I used, but have also offered alternatives based on what else you might have in your pantry. 

You may notice that I used dried chickpeas- yes, I really didn't want to go to the shops. You can skip the soaking step by boiling them for an extra hour, but I feel like if you're boiling chickpeas for 2.5 hours, you probably won't be eating it that day anyway.  


Pantry-raid Chana Masala


  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) canola/vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, finely diced (whatever sort you have is fine)
  • 1 Tbsp (7 g) ground cumin
  • 3 tsp garlic powder (substitution option: 6 cloves garlic, minced or 3 Tbsp if it's coming from a jar)
  • 1 tsp dried ginger powder
  • 5 Tbsp dried coriander/cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 400g can pureed or finely diced tomatoes (I used 4 fresh tomatoes that needed to be eaten)
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas (or 2x 425g cans of chickpeas, drained)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2-3 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (or you can substitute with balsamic vinegar)


  1. If using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight (or 6 hours minimum) then simmer on the stove for 1.5 hours.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir to combine and cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add dried ginger, coriander/cilantro, ground coriander, chili powder, and turmeric and stir to coat. Add a little more oil at this point if the pan is looking dry.
  4. Add tomatoes and chickpeas. If the mixture looks a little too thick, add up to 1 cup water. It should have the consistency of a thick soup at this point.
  5. Let it simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until thick and stew-like. Stir occasionally.
  6. Once the sauce has thickened and is bubbly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding salt if you want it (I don't usually), more chili powder, or a bit of sugar if it's too spicy-hot.
  7. Remove from heat and add lemon juice/vinegar and garam masala. Stir to mix, then let cool slightly before serving.

Serves 6. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.