This Easy Channa Masala Recipe Will Be Your Go-To for Weeknights

A recipe for pantry channa masala, excerpted from the cookbook New Indian Basics by Preena Chauhan and Arvinda Chauhan

The back-to-school fall season is always a busy time of year, when schedules become more rigid and life falls back to routine after a slower-paced summer. I created this easy version of a channa masala for nights when you’re scratching your head figuring out the evening’s dinner, or for when your refrigerator is only half full and you turn to your pantry for inspiration. I like to pair this channa with something that complements the tomato sauce well but is a low-carb, keto-friendly vegetable option. The spaghetti squash is a fantastic medium for a satiating and delicious Indian meal that’s light and healthy.

Pantry Channa Masala

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: serves 2 to 4


Spaghetti Squash

  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Channa Masala

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 green cardamom pods 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Indian chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon raw cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1¼ cups water, divided
  • 2 cups channa (whole chickpeas), cooked, or one 19-ounce can, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • Warming Garam Masala, to garnish
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish


  1. For the spaghetti squash: In a medium pot, add the water and place the spaghetti squash skin side down in the pot. Leaving the lid ajar, cover and cook on medium-high heat for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  2. For the channa masala: In a separate medium non-stick pot or pan on medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise and fry for 15 to 30 seconds or until the spices become fragrant and the cardamom pods swell. Add the bay leaves and
    fry for a few seconds.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomatoes. Sprinkle in the coriander, cumin, onion powder, turmeric, and chili powder. Cook for
    1 minute, until the spices become fragrant. Add the salt and sugar and stir, then add the garlic and ginger pastes and mix together. Add 1 cup water and combine to make a curry sauce.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chickpeas, then cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to cook the curry through. Remove the lid and stir, then add the remaining ¼ cup water and the kasoori methi. Mix and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Using tongs, transfer the squash to a cutting board. Using a large spoon, scrape out the flesh of the squash. Using a fork, separate the squash into spaghetti-like strands. Transfer the squash to a medium bowl. Stir in the ghee, cilantro, garlic paste, and salt. Mix to combine.
  6. For each serving, make a nest of spaghetti squash and place a serving of channa masala in the center with a garnish of garam masala and cilantro to taste.

Note: For a more traditional Indian experience, serve this channa masala with Mattar Pullao.

New Indian Basics

Excerpted from New Indian Basics, by Arvina Chauhan and Preena Chauhan. Copyright © 2022, Arvina Chauhan and Preena Chauhan. Published by Appetite, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada