Quick Chana Masala

Quick! Phatta phat! There were times I thought phatta phat was my middle name—walking, doing homework, and, yes, eating! As soon as I was served my plate, I was being told to hurry—phatta phat! Deepa, please, I’d like to clear the table! You can cook my chana masala in a hurry, but you don’t have to.




3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon (Lucknow) fennel seeds

2-inch cinnamon stick

2 black cardamom pods

½ onion, finely chopped


2 garlic cloves, ground to a paste in a food processor

½-inch piece fresh ginger, skinned and ground to a paste 

4 teaspoons Deepa’s Secret Spice (or 1/3 teaspoon each garam masala, ground cumin, and allspice)


½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ cup water

3 cans (15 oz each) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well

2 tablespoons ketchup or Chutput Ketchup

1 teaspoon salt 


Crowning flavor: 

2 tablespoons Reemsie’s Tamarind Sauce 

1 tablespoon chaat masala

½ cup New Indian Gremolata (p. 60) or chopped onion, rinsed in cold water and strained


1. Heat oil in a wok or a deep 10-inch saucepan.

2. Add fennel seeds, cinnamon, and cardamom, and cook for one minute. Add onion and cook until light brown (about three minutes).

3. Add ginger and garlic pastes, Deepa’s Secret Spice, turmeric, and water. Stir well.

4. Add garbanzo beans, Chutput Ketchup, and salt. Cover and cook for
10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. 

Crowning flavor: Mix in Reemsie’s Tamarind Sauce. Sprinkle chaat masala and New Indian Gremolata or rinsed chopped onions. Check seasoning.



Chana Masala (not to be confused with chana dal, which is the split kernel of a variety of garbanzo, also called Bengal Gram) is a moniker for Indian street food, and Indian street food is all about the layers. In this case, tamarind sauce, gremolata, chopped onion—or you could try a drizzle of Greek yogurt, seasoned with salt and pepper. Trust me, you can’t go wrong!

Serve with Oatmeal Uppma, Dal for Dummies! and Tousled Haricots Verts and Caramelized Carrots.