Paneer chana masala

Paneer chana masala: Everything you need to know

Paneer chana masala is one of the most popular dishes you will find when it comes to Punjabi cuisine.

So what is there to know about this authentic Indian dish, and why is it so satisfying? This article will explore all you need to know about this rich and flavorful dish. 

Keep reading to find out more!

What Is Paneer Chana Masala?

Chana paneer masala is a delicious combination of paneer and boiled chickpeas served in a rich and spicy tomato-based gravy. This vegetarian dish is a firm favorite across North India and is best served with warm Indian flatbreads.

Want to know the difference between paneer masala vs paneer tikka masala? Click here to find out. 


If you’ve never tried this dish, then what are you waiting for? While it may not be as creamy as a paneer makhani, or a butter chicken curry, the blend of exotic spices paired with fresh tomatoes makes this meal rich in flavor. If we were to describe a chana paneer masala in three words, we would choose; tangy, spicy, and satisfying. What more could you ask for?


Paneer chana masala is chunky in consistency due to the chunks of paneer and the boiled chana. Therefore, if you are expecting a runny, gravy-like dish, this may not be the choice for you. 

Paneer and chana are actually quite bland when eaten alone, which is why this meal is so popular, as the masala gives the two a flavorful boost. 

When Is It Eaten?

This dish is usually served as an appetizer in most restaurants, but together with some sides of basmati rice and warm roti, it then becomes the main dish. It is so popular that you will find it being served at special occasions and celebrations. 

How To Cook Paneer Chana Masala?

Now we’ve discussed the basics, and you probably want to get to the good part; how on earth is this succulent dish made! Follow our recipe below to make it yourself. 

Chana paneer ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 100g paneer chopped into cubes
  • 1 cup chana
  • 1 finely sliced onion
  • 4 large fresh tomatoes (chopped and deseeded)
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • Piece of chopped ginger 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon green cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 cup fresh cream (optional)
  • A handful of chopped coriander
  • Handful chopped mint leaves 
  • Pinch of salt

Chana paneer masala recipe

1. To begin with, you will need to soak the chana for a few hours (ideally overnight) before boiling and leaving it aside.

2. Next, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and fry the cubes of paneer. Once fried, remove from the pan onto absorbent paper and leave aside until later. 

3. Add more oil to the pan before adding the bay leaf, peppercorns, the cinnamon stick, and a bay leaf. Saute for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the dried spices. 

4. Add the onion with the green chilies and fry for 1 minute before adding the ginger and garlic. Allow cooking for a further minute. 

5. Next, add your chopped tomatoes along with a pinch of salt and the red chili powder. Simmer for 3-4 minutes before adding a cup of water. 

6. You may now add your cooked paneer and chana to the freshly made masala sauce. 

7. To finish, add in the fresh cream and stir before garnishing with mint leaves and chopped coriander. Serve immediately with hot Indian flatbreads or roti. 

Take a look at the above video for more information about how to make this dish from the comfort of your own home. 

Chana Paneer Calories 

According to one website, there are around 423 calories per serving (1 cup) of chana paneer, which is pretty calorific! However, life shouldn’t be all about counting calories. And who can resist a steaming plate of delicious chana paneer when paired with fluffy rice and soft naan bread!

Fun fact: Chana masala with paneer is actually the Jain version of chana masala. The difference between the two is the added chunks of creamy paneer. 

Can You Make It Vegan?

Turning this dish into a vegan meal is pretty straightforward. You can either swap the paneer for tofu or a vegetable such as mushrooms or potatoes. Alternatively, you could remove the paneer altogether if preferred. The choice is yours! 

Palak Paneer or Chana Masala Healthier?

Both dishes have health benefits, so it is hard to say which one is healthier. For example, palak paneer contains a generous helping of spinach which is a good source of iron and other vitamins. The chickpeas used in chana masala provide a healthy dose of protein which helps aid weight loss and repairs muscle tissue. 

To find out more about chana vs paneer, follow this link! 

Paneer Chana Masala: The History

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when this dish came about. We do know, however, that it is a result of Punjabi cuisine, which was first brought to attention when the Mughal empire ruled from 1526-1857.

During this time, Mughal invaders also brought with them what is now known as Punjab tandoori cooking. This is one of the most popular Indian dishes throughout the globe. 

How To Preserve Paneer Chana Masala?

The great thing about curry dishes is that they are so easy to preserve. Many like to batch cook by doubling or even tripling up on ingredients to save time throughout the week. 

The best way to preserve chana paneer masala is to spoon it into a clean, air-tight container. You can refrigerate it for up to three days, or alternatively, you can freeze it if you want to consume it at a later date. 

Top Tip: Always label freezer items with the date. Most items are safe to consume within 3 months when frozen. You should also make sure the curry is fully defrosted in a refrigerator for at least 8 hours before reheating. 

Click here to find out how to soften frozen paneer.

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