Chana Masala is one of my favorite dishes but I might say that about every vegetarian curry, so don't take my word for it. Seriously though, I don't think I've ever met anyone who likes South Asian cuisine that says Chana Masala isn't the best. What makes this curry taste so good? I often squeeze sliced lemon or lime over my final dish whenever I make curry but this one doesn't need it in my opinion. That’s because tamarind pulp is integrated in this dish, which gives it a wonderful sour note. Tamarind is a tree that is native to Africa and the pulp that you get from pods of the fruit that this tree bears is used in many different dishes all over the world. When you buy the dried up pulp (find it online or in your local ethnic food store) it will look very...unappetizing. If you decide to use this ingredient you’ll know what I mean when you see it. But fear not because it is seriously worth it my friends. Let me know if you give it a try!

You’ll need:

  • Blender to puree the tomatoes

  • Small Skillet to toast the whole cumin seeds

  • A large pot to cook the curry

  • A small pot to cook rice or grain of choice


  • 30 oz of cooked chickpeas

  • 1 15 oz can of peeled whole tomatoes (try to find one without added salt and BPA free packaging)

  • 1 medium onion diced

  • 2 tsp of minced garlic or garlic paste

  • 1 tsp of minced ginger or ginger paste

  • 1 tbsp or more of neutral tasting oil (I use avocado oil)

  • 1 tsp of tamarind pulp soaked in a ⅓ cup of warm water for a few minutes

  • 2 tsp of whole cumin seeds

  • 1 tbsp of Garam Masala

  • 2 tsp of ground coriander powder

  • 2 tsp of paprika

  • 2 tsp of turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp or more of chili powder (optional for those of you that like spicy food)

  • 1 tbsp of coconut sugar

  • ½ tbsp of salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • Cilantro leaves for garnish

  • Cooked grains or Naan to accompany the curry (white Basmati rice goes well here)

  1. Puree the whole tomatoes in a blender until smooth. This will act as the base for this curry’s gravy.

  2. Toast the whole cumin seeds in a dry skillet on medium heat until fragrant and a little bit darker. This should only take a couple minutes or less. Keep an eye on it because these can burn easily if left unattended. Set aside.

  3. Heat up the oil in the large pot on high. Add onions, salt, and half a tbsp of the coconut sugar. Lower the heat and let the onions caramelize for a few minutes. Add a bit more oil of the onions are looking too dry.

  4. Add garlic and ginger and stir around a few times to get everything nice and integrated.

  5. Add in pureed tomatoes, soaked tamarind pulp and water, cumin seeds, the other spices, the remaining sugar, and chickpeas. Stir for a few minutes until everything is well mixed. This is also a good time to taste the curry to see if it needs more salt.

  6. Let the curry simmer in the pot with it covered for about 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your rice or grain of choice in another pot. If using naan you can toast it on a dry skillet or in a low temperature heated oven.

  7. Serve the curry in your favorite bowls or plates and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!