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Chana Chicken (Chicken Chickpea Curry)

Chana chicken masala is a tasty one-pot dish featuring succulent pieces of chicken and hearty chickpeas simmered in a fragrant tomato-based curry infused with onions, ginger, garlic, chiles, and fresh cilantro. Complete the meal with fresh naan and aromatic long-grained basmati rice!

Chana chicken with rice.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The easy chicken chana recipe comes together in an hour, an excellent choice for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • The chicken and chickpea curry is a hearty, protein-packed dish – perfect for meal prep!

What is Chicken Chana Masala?

Chana chicken or murgh chole is a flavorful Indian and Pakistani dish made by braising chicken and chickpeas in a spiced tomato masala finished with aromatic for a healthy and satisfying meal.

What You Need to Make this Recipe

  • Ghee: Ghee develops a deep, nutty base for the dish.
  • Whole Spices: Toasting cumin and kalonji seeds pronounce their flavor.
  • Chiles: Slit lengthwise, the green chilies add heat that doesn’t overwhelm.
  • Onion: Use a medium onion, red or yellow, to flavor the curry.
  • Garlic: I suggest using three garlic cloves, but measure with your heart
  • Ginger: Enjoy flavorful chicken chana with fresh ginger.
  • Spices: Bring the curry to life with aromatic spices like Kashmiri chili powder (or red chili powder if you prefer a spicy curry), turmeric powder, garam masala, and coriander powder.
  • Tomato: Fresh tomatoes create a rich, flavorful masala for the chicken and chickpeas to simmer.
  • Chicken: Prepare chana chicken with a whole, broken-down chicken pieces, or use skinless, bone-in chicken legs and thighs. If you like using boneless chicken, I recommend chicken thighs. They will take less time to cook than bone-in chicken, so adjust the cooking time accordingly; the safe temperature for chicken is 165°F (74°C).
  • Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas are convenient, but you can use dried chickpeas if you don’t mind the extra work. Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours beforehand and increase the cooking time to 1-2 hours.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro brightens and flavors the dish.

Tools Used to Make this Recipe

All you need to make this recipe is a heavy-bottomed pan. I use a large saute pan, but you can also use a Dutch oven, stockpot, or wok. If you prefer a smooth curry, you need an immersion blender, food processor, or blender to process the masala.

How to Make Chana Chicken

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Warm the ghee in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of kalonji seeds, cumin seeds, and green chiles. Cook until they sputter.

Spices toasting in the pan.

Step 2: Lower to medium heat and add the onion. Saute until the onions are golden brown. Then, add garlic and ginger.

Onions, garlic, and ginger cooking with spices.

Step 3: Stir in the Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, and ground coriander. Cook for another 30 seconds and add the tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Ground spices added to the cooking onions.

Step 4: Optional – Remove the green chiles and use an immersion blender to process the masala until smooth.

Step 5: Nestle the chicken into the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, cilantro, and 1 cup of water.

Chicken thighs nestled into the masala.

Step 6: Sprinkle with kalonji seeds and cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar. Maintain a gentle simmer for 20-30 minutes until the mixture reduces.

Chana, cilantro, and kolongi seeds added to the pan.

Step 7: Season with salt and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Chana chicken cooking in a pot.

Expert Tips

  • To process the curry, remove the mixture from the heat and add it to a blender or food processor if you don’t have an immersion blender.
  • If the liquid evaporates before the chicken cooks and the chana becomes tender, you may need to add more water. Add 1- 1 1/2 cups of water, but don’t forget to taste and season with salt afterward for the best results.

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Chana chicken with rice.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy the tender pieces of chicken and protein-rich chickpeas with fluffy basmati rice or bread like naan, roti, or chapati. The dish also pairs nicely with a light salad like my avocado cucumber tomato salad or kachumber salad and cooling sauces like chutney or raita.

What to do With the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate  This recipe tastes even better the next day! Store the leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze  Let the dish cool and transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Chana chicken freezes for up to 2 months.
  • Thaw – Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat  Warm leftovers on the stovetop, and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chicken chana spicy?

Adjust the spice level to suit your taste buds by controlling how much or how little Kashmiri chili powder to use. You can also use red chili powder or cayenne if you prefer a spicier addition. Whether or not you leave the green chilies whole, slit them, to dice them before including them in the masala can also alter the heat of the dish.

More Chicken Recipes:

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Chana chicken with rice.

Chana Chicken (Chicken Chickpea Curry)

Tressa Jamil
Chana chicken is a tasty one-pot dish featuring succulent pieces of chicken and hearty chickpeas for a healthy and satisfying meal ready in an hour.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 256 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon kalonji seeds. plus more to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1-3 green chiles, split lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 2-3 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder
  • teaspoon turmeric powder
  • teaspoon homemade garam masala
  • teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped, use more if you prefer more gravy or curry
  • pounds chicken bone-in or bonless
  • 2- 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 1 cup water
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
 
  • Warm the ghee in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of kalonji seeds, cumin seeds, and green chiles. Cook until they sputter.
  • Lower to medium heat and add the onion. Saute until the onions are golden brown. Then, add garlic and ginger.
  • Stir in the Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, and ground coriander. Cook for another 30 seconds and add the tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • Optional – Remove the green chiles and use an immersion blender to process the masala until smooth.
  • Nestle the chicken into the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, cilantro, and 1 cup of water.
  • Sprinkle with kalonji seeds and cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar. Maintain a gentle simmer for 20-30 minutes until the mixture reduces.
  • Season with salt and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Notes
Expert Tips
  • To process the curry, remove the mixture from the heat and add it to a blender or food processor if you don’t have an immersion blender.
  • If the liquid evaporates before the chicken cooks and the chana becomes tender, you may need to add more water. Add 1- 1 1/2 cups of water, but don’t forget to taste and season with salt afterward for the best results.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 256 kcal | Carbohydrates: 17 g | Protein: 15 g | Fat: 15 g | Saturated Fat: 6 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Trans Fat: 0.05 g | Cholesterol: 51 mg | Sodium: 278 mg | Potassium: 441 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 3 g | Vitamin A: 891 IU | Vitamin C: 12 mg | Calcium: 60 mg | Iron: 2 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
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