Chana Masala – $5 Dinner Challenge

Chana Masala is popular Indian vegetable dish, with a distinct sweet and sour flavor.  Lisa has tweaked a few recipes and come up with this one that she loves and wanted to share with us tonight!

I liked the flavor as it was, but Steve thought it needed a little more heat.  So he found the Tabasco sauce to give it a little extra umph!  I’m pretty sure you won’t find Tabasco sauce in a traditional shop on a street corner in India.

I digress…

Chana Masala is vegetarian, gluten free, casein free (if you sub the butter) and soy free!  And of course, healthy too!

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Chana Masala

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 60 minutes


  • 1.5 cups uncooked brown rice ($.60)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or margarine ($0.10)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($.10)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped ($.25)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($.05)
  • 1 tsp ginger powder ($.05)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ($.05)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp crumbled bay leaves ($.05)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves ($.05)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder ($.10)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste ($.05)
  • 1 large russet potato ($.15)
  • 2 cups chickpeas (1/2 of a 1 lb bag) or 3 – 15 oz cans ($0.50)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice ($.05)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.05)


  • Cook the brown rice with the butter as directed on package instructions.
  • Cook 2 cups of dried chickpeas as directed on package instructions. (Can substitute 3 15 ounce cans of chickpeas.)
  • Heat the oil in a shallow soup pot and cook the onion until it becomes translucent.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the garlic, all the spices and the tomato paste.
  • Scrape the tomato paste-onion combination in a food processor and blend until it is pasty. Return the paste to the soup pot and fry the paste on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, and stir occasionally until the paste is a medium brown.
  • Whisk in 1/4 cup or so of water to the pan, and let simmer until the paste turns into a thick gravy.
  • Dice the potato and add it to the pan and turn up to high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer until the potato is soft.
  • When the potato has softened, add the cooked chickpeas and lemon juice. Return to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, then serve over the brown rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve Chana Masala with side salad or favorite vegetable. (We ate with broccoli.)
  • Fresh broccoli or side salad, as a side dish

Cost $2.40 plus veggie cost

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  1. Amy says

    8 spices – really? (Would the use of garam masala help to simplify this recipe?) I was going to suggest curry powder, but that is one of the 8!

  2. says

    Erin, I’m so glad you enjoyed this! My husband and I are the opposite – he likes it more bland and I like more of a kick. I normally just adjust at the table, though.

    And Amy, yes, garam masala would simplify. But it wasn’t available at my local store so this is how I tweaked it with what was in the cupboard.

  3. Beth in Ohio says

    I’ve got a jar of garam masala in my spice cabinet that I used once to make Makhana Chicken. I think the only spices not covered in it, are the ginger, paprika, and curry. I’ll check before trying this recipe, so as to not overpower with any one spice flavor.

    Thanks for posting this recipe! This past weekend I went to one of our local Indian grociers and bought a 4lb. bag of dried chickpeas after seeing a recipe that sounded tasty, and reading that canned non-organic chickpeas have MSG added. I want to start adding more beans & legumes into our diet, as well as try more Indian & Middle Eastern recipes.

  4. says

    This is one of my favorites. I had not been able to locate an Indian market since moving to my area. But now that I have the recipe, I don’t need a specialty spice blend.

    Thanks for the list of spices needed!

  5. Jen says

    This was very yummy. I just wanted to say that I ended up adding quite a bit more water as the paste started to stick and I needed more cooking time to get the potatoes soft. Also added a dollop of greek plain yogurt (thank you yoplait for cheap yogurt) which was a nice contrast to the spices. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Jessica says

    My husband suggested half of the beans and twice the sauce- and yes, the potatoes took awhile. There wasn’t really times in the recipes- which I didn’t realize till dinnertime. I was in a rush so I started the potatoes in the microwave.
    Next time I will use half the beans and I’ll dice the potatoes much smaller, to aid in the cooking.

    I think 2 cups of cooked beans would have been about right, so I think I misunderstood and used 2 c of dried beans? They really plumped up. We had lots of leftovers for another mean AND put some in the freezer.

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