Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, cumin, and ¼ tsp salt (adjust if altering batch size). Add garlic, ginger, cilantro, and green chilies to a mortar and pestle and grind into a rough paste (or use a small food processor to pulse into a paste. Alternatively, just finely mince.) Then add to the pan with the onions.
Next add ground coriander, chili powder, and turmeric and stir to coat. Add a little more oil at this point if the pan is looking dry.
Next, add pureed tomatoes and chickpeas and remaining salt (½ tsp). If the mixture looks a little too thick, add up to 1 cup (240 ml) water (I added ~ ½ cup (120 ml) (adjust if altering batch size). You’re looking for a semi-thick soup consistency at this point, as it will cook down into more of a stew.
Increase heat to medium high until it reaches a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low or medium-low and maintain a simmer (uncovered) for 15 - 20 mins, or until thick and stew-like. Stir occasionally.
In the meantime, if you don’t have *garam masala seasoning, make your own by adding 2 small dried red chilies, 1 tsp black peppercorns (or ½ tsp ground black pepper), 1 tsp cumin seeds (or ½ tsp ground cumin), 1 tsp cardamom pods (or ½ tsp ground cardamom), ½ tsp cloves (or ¼ tsp ground cloves), and a pinch of nutmeg to a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder, and grind/mix into a powder. Set aside.
When the chana masala is thickened and bubbly, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, chili powder for heat, or a bit of coconut sugar for sweetness and to offset the heat of the chilies.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice and garam masala. Stir to mix, then let cool slightly before serving. Fresh cilantro and lemon juice make an excellent garnish. Chana masala can be enjoyed as a stew on its own, or it can be delicious with white or brown rice, or cauliflower rice. Lastly, my favorite is over-roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli.
Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. (Recipe♦384)