First: use dried chickpeas which you have rehydrated in a pressure cooker or slow cooker, rather than canned chickpeas. If you don't know how, it is really easy and you can follow my step-by-step directions to do it.
Second: use MDH brand chana masala powder--they are a North Indian-based spice producer, and so their spice blends are not as spicy as many other brands which are based in South India. I once used a different brand, and it was so hot that Hubs and I could barely eat it.
Third: adding tamarind concentrate or chutney to the dish helps thicken the gravy and adds a hint of tanginess.
Now that I make sure to always use these three components in my channa masala, it turns out great!
Ingredients (for 2):
Ingredients (for 4):
- Large sauté pan and lid
- Plastic cooking spatula
- Chop the onions, tomatoes, green chili peppers, and cilantro leaves. Peel and grate the ginger.
- Add the cooking oil and onions to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the turmeric and green chili peppers and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes and stir to combine; then cover until the tomatoes soften and the oil begins to separate, roughly 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the cover and mash the tomatoes with a spatula to create a tomato paste/gravy.
- Add the channa masala powder and chickpeas and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add sugar, salt, and starchy or plain water. Cover and increase the heat for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the gravy to thicken.
- Smash 1/4th of the chickpeas with a spatula--this chickpea paste will help to thicken the gravy. Add more water, if needed, if the gravy becomes too dry.
- Add the coriander powder, ginger, and tamarind concentrate/chutney 1/2 a tablespoon at a time; cook for 1 minute. Taste the dish and add more salt, channa masala, and/or tamarind as needed to suit your tastes.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro.
- Serve topped with more fresh cilantro leaves, a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice, and quick-pickled red onions on the side.