Chana Masala with Ground Turkey

Chana masala with turkey for lunch, in under 30 minutes!

Last weekend Alex and I did our grocery run right after an exciting “I Love Sushi” sculling scrimmage.  We picked several recipes for the week from three cookbooks for inspiration: “Run Fast, Eat Slow“, “Racing Weight Cookbook” and “The Happy Cook“.  Thank you to my sister, Liz, for sending me a copy of “The Happy Cook” last week!  Because we were grocery shopping midday, we also needed a quick recipe to prepare right away for lunch.  The Chana Masala recipe from “Good and Cheap” has become a staple in our household, and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.  We add ground turkey to the recipe, but if you follow the original ingredient list, chana masala can be served as a vegetarian entree on its own or over rice, or as a filling side.  Chickpeas are very filling and make this a great stand-alone meal option.

As with all recipes from “Good and Cheap”, the chana masala is budget-friendly and uses mostly pantry ingredients that you might already have on hand.  The idea behind Leanne Brown’s “Good and Cheap” was to provide healthy recipes for families on tight budgets.  The PDF is available online, and you can download and save a copy for free.  There are also hard copies for purchase on Amazon.

For this post, I set a timer as soon as I laid out all of my ingredients.  From start to finish, this meal took just under 27.5 minutes to prepare.  With the additional turkey and served over brown rice, this recipe provided about four meals.



Chana Masala with Ground Turkey – serves 4

Alex and I added turkey to this meal to increase the amount of protein per serving.  As an added bonus, the ground turkey adds volume and we are able to get about four servings with this list of ingredients.  I skipped the jalapeño that “Good and Cheap” recommends, and further simplified some of their steps.  I only use fresh ginger for this recipe half the time.  Make your own garam masala blend at home using this recipe if you do not have any on hand.  You could also use ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter and oil if you have that at home.

You will need:


  1. 3 t coriander
  2. 1 t turmeric
  3. 1/4 t cayenne
  4. 1/2 t garam masala blend
  5. 1 t smoked paprika
  6. 1/2 t salt
  7. 1/2 T butter
  8. 1/2 T olive oil
  9. 1 t cumin
  10. 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  11. 1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  12. 1 t ginger root, grated (optional)
  13. 1 C canned tomato puree
  14. 1 lb ground turkey
  15. 2 1/2 C cooked chickpeas (we used canned, drained)
  16. 1/2 C water

Optional: cilantro, yogurt, naan or brown rice for serving


  1. Combine spices and set aside (ingredients 1-6).
  2. If you are serving chana masala with rice, now is the time to get your rice started.  For best results, follow package instructions for rice preparation.
  3. In a large pan over medium-low heat, combine butter and olive oil and heat until melted.  When the butter and oil begin to sizzle, add cumin and stir to combine.
  4. Add chopped onion and sautee for 2 minutes.  Add chopped garlic and stir for another minute.  If using ginger, add now and stir to combine.
  5. Add the spice mixture and the tomato puree, stir and then cover for 5 minutes.
  6. In a separate pan over medium heat, brown turkey while your chana masala mixture is cooking down.  Break up the turkey into small pieces with a spoon and stir to ensure even cooking.
  7. Check on the tomato pot now; you should notice that the butter/oil have started to separate from the tomato puree, which has reduced.  The surface will start to shimmer when the butter/oil separate.  At this point, add the chickpeas and water and bring your mixture to a boil and then simmer for ten more minutes.
  8. Whenever your turkey has cooked through, transfer the meat to your chickpea/tomato mixture.
  9. After your chana masala has simmered for about ten minutes, the chickpeas should begin to soften.  Using a spoon, potato masher or measuring cup, squish about half of your chickpeas.  The squished chickpea texture will thicken your chana masala sauce.
  10. Serve over rice for a complete meal, or as a side.


Source: Brown, Leanne. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day. New York: Workman, 2015. Print.  PDF link, page 93.