Two main problems with chana masala from Indian restaurants:
1. In the US, you cannot get it with the heat turned down, meaning without hot pepper
2. It is often made with ghee, which is clarified butter, a very non-vegan dairy product
That’s why I make my own chana masala, I can adjust the hot pepper to any level I want and mine is totally non-dairy.
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend that usually contains cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and cardamom)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
Optional: substitute 2nd can of chickpeas for 2 cups of boiled potatoes or cauliflower
Optional: 2 cups of greens such as spinach or chard
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Hot peppers, tabasco sauce, cayenne powder, or other hot spice, to taste
1 teaspoon amchur powder (ground up dried mango powder) OR the juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime, about 2-4 teaspoons
Salt, to taste
Sauté the onion in oil over medium heat until translucent. Add cumin, turmeric, and garam masala to the onions and stir until the spices become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the chickpeas and stir fry them, coating them in the oniony, spicy oil. Add any hot spices and other vegetables like potatoes or greens, if using.
Add tomato sauce and salt to taste, stirring until warm. Add the garlic last minute so it stays fresh and nearly raw, reserving its potency and health benefits. Lastly, add the amchur powder or lemon juice. This gives the chickpea stew a pleasant tart edge and I believe it is a secret to making chana masala taste authentic, like it came from an Indian restaurant.
Serve with any whole grain or pita bread, here it is shown with brown rice.