Aloo Channa Marsala

It is late February, the weather is more like early April but still coldish, so I’m looking for decent, flavorful food with just a hint of adventure. But have not motivation to spend hours in the kitchen.

Walking the aisles of my local “mega-mart”, I find a sale on canned beans, in specific chickpeas, and the first thing that occurs to me is hummus. But it is still a bit cold to go Mediterranean, but perhaps Indian? My favorite Indian restaurant had a curry dish of chickpeas and tomatoes cooked in an onion and tomato sauce, liberally spiced.

Just the thing for a cold but sunny day, I’ll serve with basmati rice, naan, with sliced onion and peppers to the side, perhaps with a dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lemon.

I’ll be rather liberal in my modifications from “Classic Marsala”, and I am sue any number of “aunties” will be seeking me with their wooden spoons in search of retribution for my theft of one of their classic dishes.

From Wikipedia:

Chana masala, literally ‘mix-spiced small-chickpeas’), also known as channaychole masalachole or chholay (plural), is a dish originating from the Indian subcontinent. 

Chole is the name for the larger and lighter coloured chickpea commonly found in the West. These are known as kabuli chana in Hindustani. Chana masala is fairly dry and spicy with a sour citrus note (the flavor usually comes from coriander and onion). Chana are usually replaced by chole in most restaurants, and both versions are widely sold as snack food and street food in the Indian subcontinent.

Aloo Channa Marsala

Chickpea and Potato Curry, fast, exotic, flavorful, and warming.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course, PubGrub, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 264 kcal


Onion Base

  • 1 tbsp Butter Use Olive Oil for Vegan option
  • 5 cups Yellow Onion Peeled thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Water

Curry Sauce

  • 4 cloves Garlic Peeled, Minced
  • 2 ea Chillies Jalapeno, Serrano, (adjust to your level of spice)
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Peeled, Grated
  • 1 tbsp Garam Marsala
  • 2 tbsp Curry Powder
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Oil Neutral

The Rest of It

  • 1 can Tomatoes and chilies 10 oz
  • 1 can Chickpeas 15oz, drained
  • 1 ea Starchy Potato Peed, cubed to 3/4"
  • Kosher Salt To taste
  • 3 ea Lemon


Onion Base

  • In a large heavy saucepan, (I use cast iron), over high heat, melt butter, add onions and cook down, stir frequently. Add sugar and baking soda. (Do this gently, as the overall flavor of the dish depends on this)
  • When bottom of pan archives a coating of fond, add 2-3 tbsp water and scrape, (~5 minutes)
  • Repeat when fond builds up, ~ 2-3 minutes. Expect to spend 15 - 20 minutes on this.
  • When onions are completely soft and are bark brown, remove from heat and season.

Build the Sauce

  • In a food processor / mortar, add Add garlic, ginger, cilantro, and green chilies and grind into a rough paste Alternatively, just mince, very finely .)
  • In a large heavy saucepan, (again my cast iron), over medium high heat, melt a wadge of butter, and cook down the paste / fine minces from above, add the 1/2 the garam marsala, and the curry powder, It should be quite fragrant, thence add the onion base. Stir / toss to coat every thing, ~ 3 minutes


  • Add the tomato / chile mixture, chickpeas, and potatoes, add ~3/4 cup water and bring to a hard simmer, thence drop the heat to medium / medium low (looking for a bare simmer) and simmer for ~ 15-20 minutes. We are looking for a thick stew texture, where the potatoes are just beginning to break down
  • Taste season and balance flavor
  • Remove from heat, stir in the juice of 1 1/2 lemons, as well as remain garam marsala


Taste, Season and Balance flavor:
We are looking for a layered flavor, not blow your heat off spice, or kill you from diabetes sweet.  And DEFINITELY NOT "DIE OF BOREDOM, BLAND" 
So adjust salt to change the saltiness (Uh, DUH!!)
Chili power / chilies for heat
Brown sugar to offset the over-abundance of heat you just added..
The onion base is truly the heart of flavor, but caramelizing onions is SUCH A P.I.T.A.   This method seems to work better than spending over an hour to get there...  Would I use this for french onion soup, ? NON!, but for an onion based sauce or gravy, sounds good to me.
Serve with Basmati rice, Hot Naan, lemon, onion, and chili slices to the side


Calories: 264kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 4gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 116mgPotassium: 543mgFiber: 6gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 237IUVitamin C: 27mgCalcium: 103mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chickpea, Curry
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

  Filed under: Autumn, Bean, Cast Iron, Cultural-Misappropriation, Indian, Pub Food, Sauce, Vegetarian, Winter

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