Kala Channa Masala; (Vegan) Black Chickpea and Tomato Curry

Nitisha Patel

Nitisha Patel

6th January 2022
Nitisha Patel

Kala Channa Masala; (Vegan) Black Chickpea and Tomato Curry

60 min

A delicious vegan take on a traditional curry. This meal serves 8.


  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick of cassia bark
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp grated/ pureed ginger
  • 2 tsp grated/ pureed garlic
  • 8-10 fresh washed curry leaves
  • 2 finely diced brown onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 green chilli finely sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 5 fresh chopped tomatoes (with core removed)
  • 300ml water
  • 500g/2 drained cans of tinned black chickpeas
  • 2 tsp palm sugar/ jaggery
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
  • Juice of half of a fresh lemon


In a thick bottom pan, heat the oil and add the cloves and cinnamon stick, allow the oil to become infused with warm aromatic notes from the spices.
Next, add the mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle in the pan.
When the mustard seeds have popped, add in the cumin and fenugreek seeds and also allow them to sizzle and crackle. You know when the seeds are ready when they start popping and releasing their aromatic oils.
Once all of the spices have sizzled, add in the fresh ginger and garlic and stir in the hot oil for 10 seconds, then add in the fresh curry leaves. Careful as they will splutter in the hot oil.
Add in the diced onion and fry until soft and browned, stirring often. For this dish, in particular, you want to have the onions golden brown. This will take a good 20-25 minutes.
Next, add in the sliced green chilli, mix in well with the onions and fry for 1 minute.
We have now started to layer our flavours, so once the fresh spices have been cooked out, it is time to go in with the powdered spices and add depth to the sauce. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and paprika to the pan and mix well.
It is important to cook out spices because if they are left raw, your curry will have a harsh flavour as well as a powdery/grainy sauce.
The powdered spices will dry out your pan, so to stop your pan from burning, add a splash of water to keep the pan moist, this will also help the spices cook out, at this stage add approximately 100ml.
Once your spices are cooked, add in the tomato puree and mix well. Tomato puree is generally quite concentrated and can be quite sharp if not cooked out properly so make sure you mix it in well with your onions and spices.
Next, add in the chopped tomatoes, stir well, reduce the heat to a medium flame and put a lid on your pan to allow the tomatoes to cook quicker. You can use tinned tomatoes if you prefer to.
You will know when the tomatoes are ready because the flesh will start to melt and the whole mix will come together nicely as a sauce. The tomatoes should take a good 12-15 minutes in the pan.
Once the tomatoes have all softened add in the drained chickpeas, mix in well, pour in the remaining water and sugar, place on the lid and allow to simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes.
The Masala should be almost ready now, to add 1 final flavour dimension to the flavour of this curry, add in the garam masala and lemon juice.
Check the taste and consistency of the sauce, if you are happy with the seasoning; saltiness and sweetness, and the looseness of the sauce, add the coriander for a citrusy freshness.
Remove from the heat and serve with either fresh naan bread or plain boiled basmati rice.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.