ELR Channa Masala

Welcome to the next episode of What’s Cooking Tonight. This is part of a new photographic (maybe turn video?!) culinary series I’m doing on the blog here. Life is so much easier with a garbage disposal.

Here are the prior two episodes if you missed them:

Homestyle Turkey Chili

How to poach an egg like a champ

Tonight we are going to make one of my favorites, channa masala.

I LOVE Indian food. I had it for the first time when I was in culinary school, living in Orlando, and I’ve been rather obsessed ever since. For some reason (like most things) Indian food never tastes as good when you make it yourself. I see that as a challenge.
Welcome to my kitchen. Listen up.
First, heat up about two tbsp of butter in your cast iron skillet.
Yes, butter. Don’t try to substitute this out because its crucial to the finished product. I’M WATCHING YOU.
Once the butter has sufficiently melted, dump in one chopped yellow onion.
Toss well so the onions are thoroughly coated with the good stuff. Your heat should be at medium right now.
Now this is the first very important step. You must execute patience and grace or your channa masala will suffer indefinitely. You are to let the onions caramelize. This will take about 15 minutes and you probably will get very nervous and antsy while the onions cook because if they burn….you lose.
You must let the onions go from this:
To this:
Excellence takes time, my friends. Patience is a virtue.
While the onions are cooking (you probably want to reduce the heat to more medium low now), smash and chop two fat cloves of garlic,
a one inch knob of ginger,
and a seeded jalapeno pepper.
Check on your onions.
They aren’t there yet.
But, once they ARE there (see a few photos up), add your ginger, garlic and jalapeno to the mix
And then add about three tbsp of tomato paste. I have a secret when it comes to tomato paste. I freeze it.
I dare you to show me a person who uses the whole can of tomato paste in any one recipe that they make. Usually they use about two or three tablespoons and the rest goes in the trash. My method is to scoop the extra paste from the can into a little plastic baggie and then freeze. When you need a tablespoon just break off what you need (it melts quickly) and throw it in frozen to your recipe. Bang!
Now I need to talk for a second about this step because if the onions were number one most crucial, the tomato paste is a close second. This is the base of all the flavor for the whole dish right now and most people mess it up. But not you because in a second you will be a pince champ (pronounced pinc-AY). All pince really means is to cook the tomato paste down, thus intensifying the flavors immensely. No pince = bland and boring. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Once you add the tomato paste to the pan, stir so that all the onions are coated well.
Flatten down everything on the bottom of the pan, crank the heat to more of a high/medium and set away. That’s right, you heard me, step away from the stove. To properly pince means you need to let the tomato paste cook and brown up a bit. This is going to burn off all the sugar in the tomato and leave you with a really intense delicious flavor.
How do you know when its done?
You look for the crust.
After a few minutes a crust will start to appear on the bottom of your pan. No, you did not burn anything. You did good! Also, it will start to smell like pizza. There’s just no other way I can describe this. You’ll know what I mean when you do it.
Now it’s time for the spice. Add one tablespoon coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (I use 1/2 tsp but I like it HOT)
And one tsp cumin
Stir well. The mixture should now seem pretty dry but do not fear!
And one can of chopped tomatoes in the juice
As well as two 15 ounce cans of chickpeas (rinsed, please!)
Stir, baby, stir.
And then add 1 tsp garam masala
And a sprinkle of sea salt and squeeze of lemon….you’re done!
Mine turned out super duper extreme spicy because I used 1/2 tsp cayenne. I don’t recommend this if you are sane, which clearly I am not. I will probably stir some plain yogurt in it before I serve it tonight or else I might not make it.
Here’s the whole recipe, one more time.
Channa Masala

Serves 4

2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 inch knob ginger, peeled and chopped
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp tumeric
2 tbsp butter
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the butter. Once melted, add the onions and cook for about 15 minutes on medium low heat, or until golden brown.
Once the onions have caramelized, add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and stir well. Cook for about two minutes or until it starts to smell like heaven on earth.
Add the tomato paste and pince, using above photos as an example. This is very important and if you don’t do it right your dish is pretty much doomed. No pressure.
Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and tumeric and stir well. Then add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and garam masala.
Cook for about five minutes or until the chickpeas have heated through. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and top with plain yogurt and cilantro if desired!


  • Reply
    Spaghetti with salmon, peas and lemon. | springjumps
    October 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    […] making a beef curry, based on EatLiveRun‘s wonderful Channa Masala. I’ve made this a few times before and it is divine. My tastebuds can’t […]

  • Reply
    October 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Hi! I just discovered your amazing blog and absolutely love the way you describe and showcase how to make these scrumptious healthy meals. I TOO love Indian food, but can’t seem to see the pictures accompanying this post – I know it’s an old one, so maybe I’m just having computer issues?

  • Reply
    March 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    the pictures in this wonderful recipe aren’t working anymore!

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