Chana Masala – Healthy Indian Cuisine!

I found some time over the weekend to put my newly found ingredients for Indian Cuisine to the test. It was so much fun and everything turned out great! The recipes I chose were high protein, low fat, low cholesterol and meatless! If you make Indian food at home you can control the ingredients and make incredible flavorful food that is healthy and so filling! It is packed with fiber making it a great choice for those who are watching their weight because it fills you up for hours!

I actually doubled this recipe for Chana Masala when I made it so we would have some leftovers and I am so glad I did. Garbanzo beans are cooked with fresh onions, tomatoes, garlic and seasoned with a delicious array of aromatic Indian spices. This is my new favorite comfort food and I ‘m having leftovers for lunch today!

This dish was HOT! I don’t know if it was just the heat from the jalapeno or the combination of it with the seasonings but it definitely had some fire to it. Hubby Tom liked this even though it didn’t have any meat and that is a big deal for a guy who thinks the only way to get protein is to eat meat!

We enjoyed this over a bed of brown rice. I use Alton Browns oven method for perfect brown rice. It is a full proof recipe and I usually make a double batch and freeze one for future meals. To cool things down be sure and serve this with a big bowl of Raita – the Indian side dish made with yogurt, mint and a little cumin. I’ll post a recipe for it as well.

There are numerous versions of Chana Masala, kind of like how everyone has their own favorite chili recipe! This is the first one I tried and if you have a favorite recipe for this dish please share it with me. 🙂

Chana Masala

  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup onions
  • 1 piece ginger root — 1 inch piece,peeled, finely minced
  • 2 each garlic cloves — minced
  • 1 each jalapeno chile pepper — use enough to suit your taste, finely minced (I used about 1/3)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala — or more to taste — see note below
  • 14 ounces garbanzo beans, canned — drained
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • cilantro
  • salt and pepper — to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice -optional- it adds a “sour” note to the dish.

In blender or small food processor chop the onion into almost a fine paste, then remove and do the same with the tomatoes. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add cumin seeds, onion and garlic, stirring frequently, cook onion mixture until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in tomatoes and repeat until you have a pretty thick mixture. Add remaining ingredients (except for cilantro) along with about 1/3 – 2/3 cup water and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes. Using the end of a wooden spoon crush some of the chick peas to thicken the sauce. Cook until the sauce has reduced and you have a thicker consistency. Remove from heat, stir in optional lemon juice if using and add fresh chopped cilantro on top. Serve over rice if desired with some raita, plain yogurt or sour cream on the side.

Yield:  3 servings

Nutritional Information

Per Serving: 223 Calories; 6g Fat (24.8% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 444mg Sodium. WWPP 5

Recipe Adapted from the Cooking Light Message board, recipe posted by Nmody who’s mother is a Indian Caterer.

Note: If you can’t find the Garam Marsala you can make your own using this simple mix of dried ground spices. I found this recipe on the Pioneer Woman blog. I love her blog, the photography is amazing and her food is gorgeous! I have only made a couple of her recipes. Most of her recipes are not healthy but I love to look at her recipes and drool – no calories or pounds gained that way!

Garam Masala spice mix From Pioneer Woman:

1 tablespoon coriander; ground
1 tablespoon cumin; ground
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper; ground
1 tablespoon fennel seeds; ground
1 tablespoon ginger; ground
1 tablespoon cardamom; ground
1 tablespoon nutmeg; ground
1 TEASPOON cloves; ground

Mix together and store in a jar.

Perfect Pairings

To cool things down be sure and serve the Chana Masala with a big spoonful of Raita – the Indian side dish made with yogurt, mint and a little cumin. Fat free Greek yogurt works well in this dish and helps keep the calories down so feel free to use as much as you want! I love this stuff! 🙂 How can something so simple taste so good? My mom gave me this adorable dish. Thanks Mom!


  • 1 English cucumber — partially peeled, leave a little on for color, coarsely grated, squeezed dry
  • 2 cups plain low fat yogurt (I used fat free Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves — chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Didn’t use)
  • pinch salt

Mix grated cucumber with the rest of the ingredients and a generous pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made a day ahead of serving.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutritional Information: Using low fat yogurt

Per Serving: 37 Calories; 1g Fat; 3g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 35mg Sodium.WWPP 1

Nutritional Information: Using fat free Greek yogurt

Per Serving: 30 Calories; trace Fat; 4g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 32mg Sodium. WWPP 1

Of course you also need a little bread and the traditional Naan bread is readily available in most grocery stores( where I live), Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The frozen Naan from Trader Joe’s is our first pick. Pita bread or Lavash are also good substitutes.

A little bit of chutney spread on the Naan is a nice touch as well. The sweetness of the chutney compliments the spices in the main dish. I bought this one at Cost Plus World Market and it is wonderful! You can find chutneys at most grocery stores in with the jams and jellies.

Nutmeg Notes

When I set out to write this post I had no intention of it becoming so long! I get so excited with the discovery of new foods and recipes that fit into a healthy lifestyle and want to share everything with you!

It cooled down a little over the weekend and I started my mornings with hot oatmeal that I added,walnuts, canned pumpkin, NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia drops, nutmeg and cinnamon to. What a wonderful way to start the day.

Later this week watch for a post about how to buy spices on the cheap and how to store them to prolong their storage. I also made an Indian Stew recipe over the weekend that was amazing and deserves a post of it’s own.

Later in the week I will be in San Francisco in the Union Square vicinity. Anyone have any restaurant recommendations? I would love to try some new places in the city. I don’t mind walking  a few miles to a good place to eat-it helps to off set the extra calories!

To Your Health


Add Your Thoughts

Do you like meatless meals or are you a carnivore who needs meat at every meal?

I am perfectly happy with a meatless meal and often take only a small amount of meat and load up on the healthy side dishes instead. More meatless meals are going on our menu in the near future and I’ll share why in another post.

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  1. Jan says:

    I need protein at every meal – not necessarily meat. I’m not a big fan of Indian cuisine, probably the only ethnic food that I don’t really care for, and I have tried many different authentic restaurants. Now, the raita looks perfectly yummy!

    (Interesting that your post didn’t come across on Google reader via RSS – saw it on FB)

    1. Tami says:

      Jan you are not alone, the flavors are very pungent and don’t seem to appeal to the masses. My kids are not fond of most of it either.

  2. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    I’m happy to go without meat. We ate more in the past since my teen was a carnivore for sure! And, I don’t do pasta and limit grains so that does make it harder. I’ve got a quinoa dish planned for this week.

  3. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I can easily go a meal, or even a day, without meat, but I don’t feel “right” after that day, which surprised me because I don’t eat that much meat.

    I’m with Jan on the Indian food–just can’t develop a taste for it. I think it’s the ginger in most dishes.

    1. Tami says:

      The ginger is a prominent flavor in the Indian dishes I have made so far. I love ginger!

  4. renee@mykitchenadventures says:

    oh my…this looks so good Tami! I gotta say…I LOVE that frozen Naan from TJ’s…sooooo good! I also love tzatziki so I think I would be all over that yogurt dip!!

    I can throw a meatless meal in once in a while, but not too often or the peanut gallery ( aka my husband ) complains! lol Men….geesh!

    1. renee@mykitchenadventures says:

      oh, and I almost forgot…I had my oatmeal this morning with those stevia drops and fresh pear and cinnamon…YUMMMMMMMY! those drops are soooo good!

      1. Tami says:

        🙂 Oatmeal with a fresh pair and cinnamon – great combo! We seem to like a lot of the same foods!

    2. Tami says:

      I can relate to having a hubby who “needs” meat! Tzatziki is very much like Raita. In fact if I don’t have any mint I just make Tzatiki to go with Indian food.

  5. Leslie says:

    I always order chana masala at Indian restaurants – my favorite, with my favorite of all the beans…garbanzos! I will try this recipe – sounds good, and pretty easy.

  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    What a wonderful meal! We eat a lot of meatless dishes. I love Indian food, but my hubby isn’t the biggest fan. But I think he would like this. I’ll give it a try!

    1. Tami says:

      Andrea maybe go lighter with the spices and see if it’s more appealing to him. I think the strong flavors are just too much for my kids, maybe if I cut back on them they might like these dishes since they like the other ingredients when I use them in other recipes.

  7. Lori says:

    I love Indian food. If you take this same recipe and add spinach to it, it becomes one of my favorite dishes – palak chole!

    1. Tami says:

      Lori thank you for telling me that! Palak Chole sounds wonderful and I will have to give it a try.

  8. Amanda says:

    I’m good with meatless — and in fact, as I’ve mentioned before, chickpeas are my “go to” legume. My husband, bless his heart, needs meet with everything, so I tend to toss in some turkey sausage to appease his inner carnivore.

    He doesn’t know it’s turkey though… heh.

    I’ll have to make this. He’s adapting to more middle eastern fare and I think he’ll at least give it a shot! Of course, he’ll probably replace the raita with mayonnaise.

    1. Tami says:

      What they don’t know can’t hurt them right?

  9. Sharon says:

    I don’t mind a meal without meat, but I do need some form of protein with each meal. I cannot get full without it. Like others have said, I’ve just never been able to develop a taste for Indian food. I believe it’s the only ethnic cuisine I don’t enjoy and it isn’t for lack of trying. Some times you just give in!!

  10. Marsial2010 says:

    I love Indian food and this looks delicious. I’ll definitely give it a try. I’ll probably skip the Pita bread since I am trying to cut down on carbs (and I love Pita bread).

  11. Ellen says:

    everything here looks amazing, Tami (as usual!) I am looking forward to the spices post. I have recently become a spice snob and can’t buy it prepackaged anymore. It just does NOT taste as good; yet, I end up wasting it in bulk – so, your post will be great for me to read.

  12. sarah@spinach and spice says:

    Though not apparent from my blog, I eat mostly vegetarian! My family eats meat at every meal though, so I’ll fix myself a separate dish sometimes 🙂
    And thanks for the garam masala spice mix recipe.. It’ll definitely come in handy in any Indian recipes in the future!

  13. Dr. J says:

    I don’t know how Indian food is in India, but here in the US I find it unhealthy with too much salt, sugar and especially fat.

    I describe my diet as mostly vegan 🙂 I eat some seafood but no other meat. All the research strongly suggests that the less meat the better. I hope your husband finds ways to accomplish this.

    1. Tami says:

      Dr J I have found the same thing when I have eaten Indian food in a restaurant which is why I decided to learn how to make it at home in a healthy way. There is no need for all the oil, salt and sugar! I have to say that hubby did enjoy our meatless meal and I think I can gradually add more meals like that into our weekly menu. From everything I have read going towards a more plant based diet is the healthiest choice!

  14. Roz@weightingfor50 says:

    Hi Tami. Do you deliver? If so, please send a BIG order of Chana Masala with all the trimmings! 🙂 Indian food is sooo good! Thanks for this recipe.

  15. Carla says:

    I usually eat meat every day. If I don’t, I don’t seem to feel well. I tend to feel weak. I actually crave red meat in a big way if I haven’t had it in about a week! A couple of years ago I tried vegetarianism and it didn’t suit me very well.

  16. Amanda says:

    Wow, that food looks delicious! I love meat but I love meatless dishes just as much!

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