Chana Masala recipe
HEALTH,  Nutrition

Post-swim recipe: Ranjan’s Chana Masala

Anna Southwell of Loves Cafe shares this authentic Chana Masala recipe cooked by Ranjan, an asylum seeker taking part in the cafe’s cookery school for refugees

Here at the café, we have been working with asylum seekers. Every Monday, we cook together, eat together and share stories while learning new skills. This week Ranjan cooked Chana Masala, which I have cooked hundreds of times before, but it’s never tasted this good! Luckily for me (and you), he’s shared his authentic recipe!


3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas
2 onions
1 inch ginger
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
2 tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
3 green chillis
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 cardamom pods
Coriander leaves for garnish
You’ll also need a pestle and mortar


  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and add finely diced onions. Sauté until the onions turn soft, sticky and translucent.
  2. Add grated ginger, chopped garlic and the ‘masalas’ (a mixture of ground spices used in Indian cooking): turmeric, cumin, garam masala, coriander, red chilli powder and amchoor. Also, a dash of water to prevent the spices from burning.
  3. Finally add chopped tomatoes, then cover and cook for 6-7 minutes or until the raw smell of the masala is gone and the tomatoes have broken down. This should be a thick gravy, add more water if needed. Remove from the heat, allow to cool. Once cooled, grind it to a paste in the pestle and mortar.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the whole spices, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cumin seeds and green chilies. Stir once and leave for 1-2 minutes until they become fragrant, take care not to burn. Add the freshly ground masala paste, salt to taste, and allow it to come to a boil.
  5. Add the cooked chickpeas along with the water. Mix well and simmer for five minutes. Mash some of the chickpeas with a masher to thicken the gravy. Cook for a couple more minutes. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve with warm chapati and rice.

Thanks to Ranjan and Loves Cafe for the recipe. Follow Loves Cafe on Instagram.

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