Chana Masala is an East Indian dish whose main ingredients are typically curry and chick peas. This particular version is unique in that it also contains a variety of vegetables.


According to Forbes Magazine, the interest in hot spices continues to grow in the wake of the popularity of Siracha Sauce. Now other exotic hot spices are becoming popular, for example sambal oelek from North Africa and Southeast Asia. At the same time, pulses, such as beans, dry peas, lentils and chick peas, are becoming mainstream. This recipe is a perfect way to show how trendy foods, such as cauliflower, green beans, carrots, and chickpeas can be combined to create a delicious curry for an entrée or side dish. I added sambal oelek to up the heat factor.

Sambal Oelek

This popular chili sauce is made from hot red chili peppers, salt and sometimes a small amount of vinegar. Other versions may contain onion, lemon or lime juice, garlic and sugar. Compared to sriracha, sambal oelek is thicker and contains the actual chili seeds. It contains little or no vinegar so that you can add heat to your dish without changing the flavour. Look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store.

Remember that a little goes a long way so start by adding ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) to your favourite curry or chili recipe and then increase the amount until you reach your perfect level of spiciness. The original recipe did not call for sambal oelek and is flavoured with only a mild curry paste. Therefore, even if you are not a fan of spicy food you will still enjoy this recipe as an excellent introduction to East Indian cuisine.

As an added bonus, it contains lots of vegetables, so is perfect for anyone trying to follow the guideline of filling half your plate with vegetables. If you want a richer, creamy dish, use cream as in the original recipe. I used milk, because that’s what was in the fridge and it worked well to give a lighter curry. Even if you have not been a fan of curry in the past, try this recipe. You will be pleasantly surprised. What do you put into your curry?

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Written by a Registered Dietitian. 

Vegetable Chana Masala
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
20-25 minutes
6 servings


1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 ml) ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (45 ml) mild Indian yellow curry paste
3 cups (750 ml) cauliflower florets
3/4 cup (175 ml) water
2 cans (375 ml) tomatoes, chopped and drained
1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups (500 ml) green beans, chopped
2 tbsp (30 ml) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) 10% half and half cream (or milk)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
1/4 tsp (1 ml) sambal oelek, or to taste
Toppings (optional) plain yogurt, raisins and fresh mint


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté carrots and onion for about 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add garlic, ginger, sambal oelek and curry paste; sauté for 1 minute until garlic is softened.
  2. Add cauliflower and water; cover and boil for about 8 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and green beans; simmer uncovered and stirring often, for about 2 min or until tomatoes are softened. Whisk flour into cream and stir into the curry for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Top with yogurt, raisins and mint if desired.