Quick and easy chana bhaji recipe made with chickpea, onions, tomatoes, garam masala, and common pantry-friendly Indian spices. One of the best plant-based protein-rich Indian bhaji curry that takes only 30 minutes to prepare.
We've shared our family's favourite Brinjal Bhaji recipe a few weeks ago and it was a great hit. If you like vegetable bhaji, this Chana Bhaji recipe is a must-try!
What is Chana Bhaji
Bhaji is a fried vegetables, and you can find bhaji in two versions, crispy fried vegetable bhaji fritters or fried vegetables bhaji with masala curry sauce.
Chana Bhaji is a masala chickpea curry, chana means chickpea in English. This dish is also known as ' Chana Masala ' or ' Chole Masala '. Chana curries are popular in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Middle East, and also in Western countries. You can also find on the menu of Indian restaurants and takeaways across the UK.
Why you would love this dish
- A simple humble plant-based curry recipe that all the ingredients can be bought at local supermarkets and grocery stores.
- This bhaji dish can be stored and reheated well. Any leftover chickpea curry can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for busy days.
- Chickpeas are rich and protein and high in fibers, vitamins, and minerals. A great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. If you have any vegetarian dinner guests, you can impress them with this delicious aromatic chana bhaji!
- Quick one-pot curry that takes no time to prepare and you will achieve the real-deal aromatic Indian curry flavour.
- A healthy, nutritious vegetable dish that the whole family can enjoy with a minimum budget.
What do we need
Here is a quick guide and detailed measurements on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
What type of chickpea to use?
Chickpea tins - I usually use cooked and ready-to-use tinned chickpea which is very convenient for busy days to save some time. You need to drain the water out from the tin and rinse with cold water before adding the curry.
Raw chickpeas - If you have more time, you can use dried raw chickpeas. Rinse the chickpea with plenty of water and soak in cold water for at least 2 hours or overnight. Then bring it to boil and reduce to simmer with low heat for 1 hour or until soft. Use a large cooking pot as the chickpeas can expand over double the amount. Or you can also cook with a pressure cooker.
Tomato & Onion - Shallot onions and ripe vine tomatoes are great for this curry base. You will also need freshly grated garlic, fresh chillies, and coriander to bring more flavors.
Spices you can add - Add bay leaf, cumin, chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and turmeric for the best masala sauce.
How do you make it
- Heat the large heavy bottom pan into medium heat, melt the ghee and add oil. Saute the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and dried chili for few seconds.
- Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent. Follow with the garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are soft.
- Next, add the spices and stir for a few seconds until fragrant.
- Add chickpeas and water. Season with salt and bring it to simmer.
- Close the lid and continue to simmer with low-medium heat, until the chickpeas are tender.
- Stir in the chopped coriander and green chilies. Turn off the heat and transfer to the serving plate. Serve with naan, plain rice, or chapati.
- Use a large pot or pan as the chickpea can expand.
- This dish is a dry curry and does not contain loads of creamy curry sauce. If you like more masala sauce, add more tomatoes and onions.
- As this recipe used canned chickpea you will need to simmer for only 30 minutes. Do not overcook the chickpeas as they can be mushy when overcooked.
Commonly Asked Questions
Simply serve with plain naan, garlic naan, Indian onion salad, flatbread, pitta bread, basmati rice or pulao rice. You can also pair it with other curries and create a wholesome curry dinner.
This recipe goes well with tinned butter beans, whole yellow peas, or chana dal. If you are using raw beans or peas, you need to boil them until 80% cooked before adding to your tomato curry sauce.
Once it's cooled, store them in a freezer-safe container for later use. It usually last in fridge for up to 3-4 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
You can either reheat with microwave or stovetop until piping hot. Chickpea absorb the water from the cury sauce and the curry sauce can be thick and dried out the next day. Add a splash of water and stir it well, before reheating.
More Curry Recipes to Try
If you love this bhaji recipe, you don't want to miss these easy curry dinner ideas.
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Chana Bhaji Recipe
- Large heavy bottom pot/pan
- 2 tin Chickpea Tinned/canned chickpea, about 480 gram boiled chickpea, see details in note
- 2-3 Shallot or brown onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 Tomato Chopped
- 3-4 Dried chilli Deseeded and cut small pieces
- 3 cloves Garlic Grated/paste
- 2 tbsp Ghee Or butter
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil Or neutral flavour oil, sunflower, canola, etc
- handful Coriander Finely chopped
- 4-5 Green chilli Cut half lengthways or cut thin slices
- 1 tsp Salt Adjust salt to your taste
- 2 cup Water About 480-500 ml ( Add more water if needed )
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 2-3 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Chilli powder Or paprika powder
- 1½ tsp Garam masala
- ½ tsp Coriander powder
- First, drain the water out from the chickpea tin, rinse with cold water and set it aside. Chope the onions, tomatoes, prepare and gather all ingredients and spices.
- Heat the large pot/pan to medium heat, add oil and melt the ghee. Once the ghee is melted add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaves and wait until they pop.
- Then add the dried chilli, stir for few seconds and follow with the chopped onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the grated garlic and continue cook until the onions are slightly brown.
- Next, add the tomaotes and cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
- Now add the seasoning spices and stir fry few seconds until fragrant.
- Place the chickpeas in the pan and pour the water in. Stir well, season with salt to taste, and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer with low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the chickpeas are tender.
- Stir occasionally and add more warm water if needed. Make a taste test and adjust the salt to your taste.
- Turn off the heat and stir in green chillies and chopped coriander. Serve with plain rice, chapati, naan or flatbread. Enjoy!
- Chickpea tin - one chickpea tin is labeled as 400g but once the canned water is drained, the actual chickpeas inside are only 240g. I used two KTC cooked chickpea tins in this recipe. You can use any of your favourite brands of chickpeas.
- Raw chickpeas - If you use raw chickpeas you will need about 160 grams as they expand two to three times when boiled. Pre-soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight and cook with low heat for about 2 hours until soft.
- Water - Even though I used cooked peas, they still absorb water and expand a bit more. Make sure to use a large pot or pan and add more water to the desired consistency.
- Customize the dish - You can also add small dice of potatoes, carrots, squash, etc. Sautee them with a drizzle of oil for 2-3 minutes before adding to the chana bhaji.
- Whole spices - If you don't have all the whole spices that I used in this recipe, you can skip some of them. Simply add garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric, and coriander powder. But highly recommend adding mustard seeds as the unique nutty flavour of mustard seeds is ideal for this bhaji recipe.
- Serving - You can serve up to 4 people as a main meal or up to 6 people as a side dish.
I’ve once had this dish when I visited India. It was at a small shop beside the streets and I miss it often.
I’m gonna try making it soon!
One question, for how long should I cook the raw peas if with the pressure cooker?
Thank you Khin!
Hi Pote`, soak the chickpea overnight with plenty of water. Rinse and drain the water out then place the chickpeas in the pressure cooker or instant pot and fill with enough water to cover the chickpeas. The chickpea to water ratio is about (1:3). 1 cup soaked chickpea needs 3 cups of water approximately. The ratio can be varied depending on the pressure cooker or chickpea used. Pressure cook on high on 15-20 minutes or until soft. Hope you enjoy trying out.
Such a great vegetarian curry. I normally make this with chana dal or toor dal but I tried it with chickpea. It was so good and a lot time saving. Thank you. More Indian recipe please especially for vegetarian.
Thanks, Danu. I am so glad that you enjoyed this recipe. We will definitely add more Indian vegetarian recipes. Thanks for taking the time and writing feedback.
I've tried it yesterday and it was a great hit. My husband really loved it. I used tomato pasta as we don't have any fresh tomatoes. We are making your aubergine bhaji next. Thanks for always sharing cooking tips.
So glad that you enjoyed it, Paula. Tomato passata is a great substitute for fresh tomatoes. Hope you like the aubergine bhaji recipe too.