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Slow-Cooker Chana Masala

Slow-Cooker Chana Masala

Chana Masala


can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes, undrained


cans (19 oz each) chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed


cups chopped onions (2 large)


tablespoon grated gingerroot


tablespoons curry powder


teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)


lime, cut into 6 wedges

Serve With, If Desired

Hot cooked basmati rice or naan

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  • 1

    Spray 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add tomatoes and garbanzo beans to slow cooker.

  • 2

    In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; cook until onions begin to soften. Add salt, jalapeño chile and gingerroot. Cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, paprika, garam masala and red pepper until fragrant and spices begin to brown. Add spice mixture to slow cooker.

  • 3

    Add 3 tablespoons water to same skillet; beat with whisk to remove all spices and browned bits left in pan; add to slow cooker. Stir. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 6 hours or on High heat setting 2 to 3 hours.

  • 4

    Serve with lime wedge and rice.

Expert Tips

  • Stir 3 cups baby spinach leaves into the Chana Masala after it is finished cooking. Cover; cook 10 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.
  • Basmati is the traditional rice served with Chana Masala; however, feel free to use your favorite rice. If you are in a time crunch, look for bags of frozen cooked rice in the frozen vegetable section of your grocery store.
  • The spice level of this dish will depend on the size and spice level of your jalapeño chile. If you really like things spicy, increase ground red pepper to 1/2 teaspoon.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A
Vitamin C

1 1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 1 Fat;

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

More About This Recipe

  • Come home to dinner! Have this easy twist on the traditional Indian dish, Chana Masala, waiting for you when you walk in the door.

Slow-Cooker Chana Masala - Recipes

When I went to Prague last summer, I brought reading material that consisted almost entirely of food writing. One of the books was Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, in which she describes, among other things, the role that food played in her courtship with her former partner, Brandon.

There are many sweet anecdotes about intimacy developing over meals: shared excitement over the prospect of digging into a buttered baguette and sliced radishes for dinner, spontaneous dinner salads that turned into feasts. My personal favorite is Molly’s ode to Brandon’s chana masala. In a 2006 blog post dedicated to the recipe, she writes,

Mine is certainly not the first man to make chana masala, nor does he have any sort of pedigree—ethnic or otherwise—to lend him an air of authority in Indian cookery, but he does have a palate, and a very precise one at that.

Precise, maybe, but not in a way that lends itself to documentation. Wizenberg jokes about her tendency to follow and transcribe recipes, while Brandon cooks by touch, smell, and feel. I fall into Molly’s camp—a recipe follower at heart, instinctive only through practice (heh)—which makes me glad that she’s recorded Brandon’s approach to this dish. I’ve been making it since last summer, and it’s a keeper.

Lately, it’s often easier to let something simmer in my slow cooker than to keep an eye on it over a burner. If it slow cooks, I have a chance to dash outside for errands or to focus on coursework for the DI intently, which isn’t possible for me when I know that something’s on the stovetop.

So, last weekend, as a part of my usual batch cooking frenzy, I decided to try adapting the chana masala recipe to be slow cooker friendly. It felt almost irreverent, as Brandon’s recipe is, by Molly’s telling, defined by its spontaneity and stepwise, taste-based adjustments. The recipe also starts with caramelized onions, which is a step I didn’t preserve.

For the most part, though, I kept the proportions and spices intact. I sautéed my onions, if not taking the time to caramelize them, before allowing the slow cooker to do its thing. This isn’t really my slow cooker style—for the most part, the whole appeal of the device is the fact that I don’t have to sauté or closely watch anything—but here I think it does make the recipe better. I give you the option of doing either: lightly browning the onions before the get added to the slow cooker, or not. The chana masala will taste rich and flavorful either way.

This decision aside, it’s a very simple recipe. I used my slow cooker to cook chickpeas from dry beforehand (I usually do this following Alton Brown’s instructions, on the high setting for 3 1/2 hours or so), but canned chickpeas will work nicely, too. Feel free to add more or less spice to suit your taste, especially if you know how you like chana masala or a similar dish to taste already. That modification would definitely keep within the spirit of the original dish.

Slow Cooker Chana Masala

Here we are. We made it! It’s 2017. We’re right at the start of another new year, and if you’re anything like me, you’re looking back on the last month of food you consumed and are thinking “Wow. That was a lot of cheese.” Not that there’s anything wrong with cheese, but you know what I mean. The new year has arrived, and it’s time to step away from the gluttony of the holidays for a bit!

It’s hard though. It’s hard to get back into the swing of things with school, activities, work, bills, etc. etc. The holidays are magical and wonderful, but everyone seems a little bit pooped by the end of them, and getting back into routine takes some serious will power. It’s great when dinner can be something simple, and healthy…and delicious doesn’t hurt either.

I came across this recipe while looking through my new copy of Skinnytaste: Fast and Slow, the latest cookbook from Skinnytaste author, Gina Homolka. I’m a big fan of her site, and now having her cookbooks as part of my collection makes grabbing a simple, healthy, delicious recipe for dinner easier than ever.

This wonderful recipe for Slow Cooker Chana Masala caught my eye for a few reasons. It’s super easy to put together, it’s a hearty vegetarian option, and it’s good for me and my holiday-overindulged family.

I started by measuring out some coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, and cardamom. And then I chopped up an onion, some garlic, and one Serrano pepper.

A Serrano pepper packs a little more heat than a jalapeno, so I figured I’d just use one and keep the “Mom. It burns. ” commentary to a minimum.

I grabbed a nonstick skillet, heated a bit of oil in it, and then added in the onion, garlic, pepper, and a squeeze of ginger paste. I always keep a tube of Gourmet Garden ginger paste handy in the fridge, but if you’d rather grate up fresh ginger, have at it.

I let the veggies cook down a bit, until they were golden, and then reduced the heat and added in my spice mix.

I stirred the spices in, and allowed the mixture to cook and toast the seasoning for about two minutes, before I added the spiced onion-garlic mixture to my slow cooker, along with two cups of water, three cans of drained chickpeas, a can of diced tomatoes, and some tomato paste.

There’s a whole lot of flavor going on in there!

I gave it a good stir, popped the lid on the slow cooker, and allowed it to cook for a few hours on low.

After the cook time was up, I added in a good squeeze of lemon juice, some salt and a bit of chopped fresh cilantro.

The lemon at the end gives it a fresh burst of flavor. Don’t skip it!

I served up heaping bowls of the Chana Masala over basmati rice, and my family enjoyed a wonderfully “winter hearty” meal that didn’t leave us feeling guilty and heavy, but instead, satisfied and content.

It’s deliciously flavorful, bright and spicy, but still cozy and comforting. Exactly what I need as we break into 2017. Happy New Year, all.

Chana Masala in the Slow Cooker

Thanks so much to Kimberly Danger from Frugal Bites for sharing this great recipe with us. I’m still on “leave,” enjoying my time with new baby and settling into life as a family of 6. I’m so grateful for the help and support of my fellow bloggers during this time!

Ever since a new Indian restaurant opened up down the street from us last fall, I can’t get enough. It’s become my new foodie obsession. For me, it wasn’t enough to just enjoy a nice meal out every other month. I wanted to recreate these colorful flavors at home.

If you’re new to Indian cooking, don’t let these recipes overwhelm you. Just because the list of ingredients is longer than usual, it doesn’t mean they’re difficult or expensive. It’s true: you may have to spend a little bit on your initial investment in Indian cookery. Garam Masala, Turmeric and other spices are a must, and they can set you back $5-7 per bottle. However, they last a long time and ensure the authentic flavors of India. Plus, most of the other ingredients required are inexpensive and help offset the cost of the spices.

This recipe for one of my favorites, Chana Masala, is so flavorful you’ll forget that it’s vegetarian… and frugal!

Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala

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We just got home from vacation, and returning to reality is proving to be more difficult than usual. Our first day back was spent putting things away and attempting to get caught up on laundry, but it turned out to be one of those times when the mess just moves and grows and here we are, 12 hours later, not much better off.

We’re fresh out of most food, but a grocery run was not in the cards. Thank goodness for pantry meals like this Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala! We are out of most everything, but we did have an onion, some garlic, spices, a can of tomatoes, and a couple of cans of chickpeas in the pantry. Done! Well … almost done. I did ask my guy to stop on the way home from work for the lemon and cilantro, which in my opinion is a must for this Crock Pot deliciousness.

Chana masala is a hearty chickpea curry with Indian roots. It can be made a number of ways, this version being one of the simplest I’ve seen – and most delicious I’ve tasted. I adapted it slightly from this Orangette perfection, making use of the slow cooker so that the amazing combination of flavors has even more time to mingle and make magic. Plus, any night is a good night when dinner’s ready without having to lift a finger after you get home, am I right?

I’m totally down with no-effort dinners in this post-vacation haze. Now if only the laundry would do itself.

Nothing’s better than a simple slow cooker dinner! And one with Indian-inspired flavors is bound to be a hit. This chana masala slow cooker meal is actually based on a classic Indian vegetarian dinner, chana masala. But, I’ve adapted it for the slow cooker!

Traditionally, chana masala is a savory chickpea dish with protein coming from chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, rather than animal protein. And, I’ve kept this chana masala slow cooker meal completely vegan, too—so take advantage of its flexibility to please any crowd!

Simplifying & Health-ifying Chana Masala

Chana masala is traditionally a lighter dish. Not only is there no meat or animal protein, but the protein-rich chickpeas, tomatoes, onion and anti-inflammatory spices make this a nutritious option for a meal, any time of day!

I keep this Indian slow cooker recipe simple by using canned chickpeas. But, I drain and rinse them so I can be in control of that sodium. This keeps my life easy, plus canned beans are pretty cheap!

Of course, if you wanted to kick this old style, you could of course soak dry beans and cook them yourself. But, if you choose to do this, don’t overcook your beans since they’ll continue to cook in the slow cooker.

Packing in Chana Masala Flavor

This chana masala slow cooker meal is so easy to toss together. And, it’s loaded with a TON of delicious flavor from the fresh ginger, chili peppers, and seasonings like paprika, turmeric and spice blends! Also, feel free to add any other spices or herbs you feel inspired by—many recipes include curry powder, ginger powder (as opposed to fresh) cilantro, etc.

Personally, I use a chana masala seasoning blend that I found pre-made. But, you can use a garam masala seasoning (available in most grocery stores) if the chana masala one is not accessible to you.

A traditional chana masala is a blend of various ingredients like dry pomegranate seeds, coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, chili powder, black salt, and more!

Garam masala, on the other hand, is a blend made with much more common and accessible spices. It’s sure to do the trick for this chana masala slow cooker meal!

Making Classic Chana Masala Slow Cooker Style

This chana masala slow cooker meal makes weeknight dinners effortless—just add all the ingredients to your cooker and let it go! Slow cooking infuses all of that flavor into the protein-packed and fiber-filled chickpeas for a quick weeknight vegetarian dinner.

Serve over brown basmati or long grain white rice, with naan, or however you like! It’s delicious fresh and warm, but I actually also really enjoy this dish cold. And, it makes for great leftovers and can be enjoyed on its own, or with other warm or cold components!