This spicy chana masala recipe is incredibly rich and decadent with bold flavors from Indian spices. Tender cauliflower florets and plump chickpeas simmered in the creamy tomato-onion masala gravy make a perfect, cozy vegan meal served on a bed of fluffy rice with a swirl of cashew cream. It's some serious drool-worthy vegan comfort food!
I love Indian food, it's indulgent, sticks to your ribs, and the house smells amazing. This thick and rich, Indian masala curry stew is made with chickpeas and lots of spices giving it an incredible depth of flavor. When the family is craving Indian food, we usually make chana masala or a luscious tender tofu masala. Tied for first!
For this version, I added cauliflower because my family loves cauliflower with curry. I also added a swirl of cashew cream for extra decadence. Here's what you'll need . . .
The Spices - the spice list is long and varied - even from family to family the spice mixes are nuanced. When my daughter was at school in India, she sent stunning pictures of the incredible vibrant spice markets - can't wait to see them for myself! Roasting spices brings out the flavours and makes the whole house smell amazing.
The Gravy - I'm a sucker for onions, garlic, and ginger sautéing on the stove. That aroma is food for the soul. The plethora of Indian spices in this recipe adds layers upon layers of flavor. If available I use 6N1 ground tomatoes or some delicious crushed tomatoes.
The Cream - for me cashew cream is the cherry on top. It balances out the spices, softens the acid from the tomatoes, and magically transforms this luscious vegan dish. Big Yum!
How to Make Chana Masala
- Warm the oil/butter in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven.
- Cook the onions, cauliflower, and salt until they take on some color.
- Sauté the garlic, ginger, and spices to warm through until fragrant.
- Add in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth.
- Let the sauce simmer with the lid half on while the sauce thickens up.
Pro tip: remove the lid and the stew will reduce faster as the liquid cooks off. Keep the lid on tight and the heat and steam stays in the pot. Adjust as necessary to achieve thick, rich stew.
- Stir in hot pepper flakes and kasoori methi. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Tips for Building an Affordable Spice Collection
A spice collection naturally grows over the years; but when you're first starting out, buying whole jars of 10-15 spices is expensive! An affordable way to build up your spice cupboard without breaking the bank is to go to the bulk store when making a new recipe. Buy just a few tablespoons of the spices. Buy bigger jars of the basics like garlic, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, red pepper flakes that will get used up more quickly. Store the bulk spices in small baby food or recycled jars.
Yes, chana (chickpea) masala (spice) is traditionally a vegetarian dish. Choose a vegan 'butter' or coconut oil for sautéing and the remaining ingredients are naturally vegan and gluten-free!
Indian spices! As with most cultures, each family has their traditional mix of spices and family secret that makes their masala the best! Some of those traditional spices may include cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaf, black pepper corn, crushed chilies, cinnamon bark, whole cloves, coriander seeds, ground turmeric, and amchur powder.
Yes! Freeze in individual portion sizes for quick thawing and easy weekday lunches. Bring to room temperature and then warm over medium-low heat on the stove or place in the microwave until warm. If freezing rice as well - freeze the rice and stew in separate containers for best results.
More Spicy Vegan Recipes to Try
Did you make this vegan Spicy Chana Masala recipe with cashew cream? If so, please leave a comment and rating below. THANK YOU!
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Chana Masala Recipe with Cashew Cream
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- vitamix or high speed blender
- large saute pan or Dutch oven
- 3 cups basmati rice, cooked
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cups cauliflower, chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cayenne
- 2 tsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1-2 tsp hot pepper flakes (to taste)
- 28 oz crushed or ground tomatoes*
- ½ cup veggie broth or water
- 3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup cashew cream (skip the lemon)
- Cook 1 ½ - 2 cups basmati rice as per package instructions and set aside. Use the Instant Pot or a rice cooker to make fuss free rice.*serving size about ½ cup cooked rice per serving. Make more if needed - rice is great leftover and freezes well.
Tomato Curry Gravy
- Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Once the oil is simmering, add the onion, cauliflower, and salt and cook until fragrant and translucent.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger until fragrant and soft. Watch carefully that the garlic does not burn and become bitter.
- Add spices - bay leaf to hot pepper flakes. Stir to incorporate and heat the spices till fragrant.
- Stir in tomatoes. Partially cover, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Adjust the consistency as necessary (for looser consistency, add a splash of water or broth as necessary).
- Stir in the chickpeas and kasoori methi (crumble the leaves or use ground if that's what you have on hand).
- Remove the whole bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Cashew Cream Recipe
- Pour ¾ cup of hot boiled water over the raw cashew nuts in the container of a high power blender. Replace the lid and let soak.
- To finish the cashew cream, add 2 garlic cloves and a sprinkle of sea salt. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Taste for flavor, add more salt if desired, and more water (a tablespoonful at a time) until sauce is pourable.
- Serve over rice with a swirl of cashew cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a wedge of lime.
- Optional Serving Suggestions: serve over garlic mashed potatoes, a baked potato or a baked sweet potato. Add some naan or flatbread.
This recipe is from simplyceecee.co food blog. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images or republish this recipe without prior permission. Thank you.
Original post November 2018.