chana masala served with naan

Chana Masala

Kids love playing “mixologist.” When creating a dish like chana masala (spiced chickpea stew), kids can be taste testers and practice their observations about flavor. The sauce is a flavorful tomato sauce with warming aromatic spices. Even though I provide measurements, I always ask the kids if they think the recipe needs more of “this or that.” Including them in the seasoning of this delicious dish will engage their senses and critical thinking skills and build on their confidence in the kitchen.

45 mins



3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1 white or yellow onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala

2-3 teaspoons sugar

1 28-oz can pureed or finely diced tomatoes

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, slightly drained

2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste


Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, cumin, and salt.

Add garlic, ginger, cilantro and spices. Next add tomatoes and chickpeas. If the mixture looks a little too thick, add up to 1 cup water. You’re looking for a semi-thick soup consistency at this point, as it will cook down into more of a stew.

Increase heat to medium high until it reaches a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low or medium-low and maintain a simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes, or until thick and stew-like. Stir occasionally.

When the chana masala is thickened and bubbly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir to mix and taste for seasoning.

Fresh cilantro and lemon juice make an excellent garnish. Chana masala can be enjoyed as a stew on its own, or it can be delicious with white or brown rice.

Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.



  • Smell the spices while measuring them out
  • Grate ginger, mince garlic, and chop cilantro
  • Learn to use the can opener to open the cans!
  • Juice the lemon
  • Adjust the seasonings


  • Manage the cooking
  • Chop the onion
A photo of Cheryl.

Cheryl Knecht Muñoz

Cheryl is the Founder and Owner of Sugar Beet Schoolhouse, a cooking school for kids and their families in River Forest, IL. As a chef, instructor, and working mom, she is passionate about growing, cooking, and sharing good food together.



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