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Chana Masala Biryani (Chickpea Rice) with Raita| Meatless Monday

Happy new week everyone. This chana masala biryani recipe is a post that I planned for Meatless Monday and I am determined to post it while it is still Monday in some part of the world. Can we quickly talk about Meatless Monday, please? It is a global movement that started in 2003 that comes with a message to cut meat from your diet for one day in a week. Meatless Monday has become a phenomenon worldwide with more than three dozen countries supporting the idea. The idea is, essentially to cut your carbon footprint while improving your health. Yours truly became a Meatless Monday contributor few weeks ago. Some of TKD’s Meatless Monday recipes include Quinoa Lentil Salad (recipe here), Asparagus Tart (recipe here) and Roasted Red Pepper Gouda Soup (recipe here).

Jump to Recipe

You all know how much I love rice. Mostly, because it’s a quick, easy side dish and takes up the taste of whatever you are eating with it. Add a bunch of healthy ingredients and you have revamped rice in a healthy way. While most rice dishes are quick, biryani is a whole different story. A traditional biryani (as I have explained in this post) is an elaborate dish with a long list of super flavorful ingredients. I have shared with you vegetable biryani inspired pulao recipe here. To amp up the protein value of vegetable biryani, I thought of doing a vegetarian version of biryani with chickpeas or chane instead of vegetables.

Chana masala biryani

With the addition of chickpeas into this rice dish, I’m happy to sit down with a bowl of chana biryani with some cucumber and tomato raita drizzled over it and call dinner done. You can consider this recipe almost semi-homemade. Two major time consuming steps in this recipe would be to fry the sliced onions till crisp, and to cook the chickpeas or chana. I have taken shortcuts to both these. Use of canned chickpeas in this chana biryani recipe along with using store bought fried onions is a big time saver. Most Indian/Asian stores carry fried onions or you could also use the french style fried onions that you can buy in a regular grocery store.

Cucmber and Tomato raita

Major steps of the recipe involve soaking the rice and then partially cooking them, making the chana masala and then layering the two and cooking on dum (very low heat) for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors deepen. This chana masala biryani definitely requires some labor but the results are out of this world. Drizzle with ghee (recipe here) and serve with raita (yogurt with vegetables). One bite and you will be transported to a warm, spicy, and earthy food heaven.

Here is a handy printable:
Chana masala biryani featured image
5 from 3 votes

Chana Masala Biryani with Cucumber Tomato Raita

Chana masala biryani is an unusual flavor combination of chana masala layered with aromatic basmati rice along with warm and earthy spices. A dance party for your taste buds!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Chana Biryani
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Soaking time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6
Author Vaishali


  • 1.5 cup Basmati Rice rinse and soak for 30 mins
  • 2.5 cup Cooked Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans/ Safeid Chane), See Notes
  • 3 tbsp Ghee/Olive oil divided (2+1)
  • 3 Green cardamoms (hari elaichi) divided (2+1)
  • 3 Cloves (laung) divided (2 +1)
  • 1/2 inch piece cinnamon (daalchini)
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds divided (1+1)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
  • 1.5 cup Sliced onion about 1 big onion
  • 2 green chilis slit lengthwise (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder optional
  • 2 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 cup yogurt See Notes
  • 2 tablespoon raisins optional
  • 2 tablespoon cahews or almonds optional
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch saffron
  • 2 cups Fried Onions See Notes

For Cucumber and Tomato Raita

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk or as needed
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh crushed black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse and soak the rice for 30 minutes

To make Chana Masala Biryani

  1. Set a heavy bottomed wide pan/skillet on medium high heat. Add ghee/oil and heat till shiny. Now add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 2 cardamoms, 2 cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Add ginger, garlic and cook till the raw smell goes away, about a minute.

  2. Add the sliced onions and slit green chili (if using). Add a pinch of salt and let the onions sweat down for a minute or two.

  3. In the meanwhile, set a big pot of water to boil on high heat, about 6-7 cups. Drizzle some oil into the water along with salt, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 cardamom and clove. *See Notes

  4. Soak saffron in 1/4 cup of warm water in a small bowl.

  5. Add all the dry spice powders to the onions, mix and cook for a minute. Now add half a cup of yogurt and cook for 2-3 minutes.

  6. After cooking down the yogurt, add raisins and nuts (if using) along with half the cilantro (1/4 cup) and mint (1/4 cup). Mix everything and add cooked (or canned) chickpeas along with salt. Cover and let cook for 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. Your chana masala is ready.

  7. Drain the soaked rice and add to the boiling water. We want to cook the rice to 60-70% doneness, almost al-dente. Since the rice have already been soaked, it should not take more than 3-4 minutes to cook the rice to that level. You do not want to overcook the rice. After 3-4 minutes, check a grain of rice. It should still have a bite to it and not be mushy. Drain the cooked rice and set aside. (Fish out the whole spices if you can).

  8. Take a deep pot (think dutch oven). Add remaining one tablespoon ghee/oil and swirl around. Take half of the prepared chana masala and add to the pan. Add remaining half cup of yogurt, more salt if needed and cook for a minute. Turn the heat to lowest setting of your stove, a very mild simmer. Spread the mixture to cover the bottom of the pan and sprinkle half the fried onions.

  9. Layer the chana masala mixture with half of the cooked rice and remaining chana masala mixture. Sprinkle remaining half of the fried onions and cover with remaining rice.

  10. Now sprinkle remaining cilantro and mint followed by a drizzle of saffron water. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and let the biryani cook for 15 minutes. (See Notes)

  11. After 15 minutes, use a long stemmed soon and gently fluff through biryani layers to mix them. Serve hot with raita (recipe below).

To make Raita

  1. Whisk the yogurt with milk to desired consistency.

  2. Add sugar, cumin powder, garam masala, salt and pepper. Give a taste check to adjust seasonings if needed.

  3. Add the cucumber and tomato and serve cold with biryani.

Recipe Notes

Find ghee recipe here.

If using canned chickpeas, make sure to drain and rinse them well.

To make this recipe vegan, use olive oil instead of ghee and dairy free yogurt/coconut cream.

Use store bought fried onions from Indian/Asian grocery store or french fried onions available in a regular grocery store (the ones you would use with green bean casserole). To make them at home, fry three-four cups of sliced onions in hot oil till crisp.

Make sure to season the water for boiling rice adequately with salt. You do not want to work so hard and end up with an under seasoned biryani.

The layered biryani can also be put in the oven to give it "dum". Use an oven proof pan, layer the biryani and set in 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Chana masala biryani featured image

Meatless Monday or not, this recipe is sure to vow. Make it for yourself or for company and Enjoy!

Love – Vaishali.

Other Biryani recipe:

Vegetable Biryani Inspired Pulao

Tools Used:

Knife:Chopping Board:

Measuring Cups:Measuring Spoons:

Can opener:Pan:

Colander:and Spatula

A vegetarian biryani that is spot on flavor, nutrition and ease. replace meat with chickpeas to make this Indian classic.


  1. Vishesh

    June 19, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you for this post! I love rice dishes; my mouth is watering. This looks and sounds delicious (and nutritious)!! I am all in favor of Meatless Mondays, though this recipe is a little long for me to use on a school night by myself. Fried onions + chickpeas = <3
    From your post, it sounds like "dum" is an actual concept that means more than just "cook with low heat." If so, could you share more about it (or some link to read myself)?

    1. Vaishali

      June 24, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      Thanks Vishesh. I agree that this is a long recipe. But biryanis are truly a labor of love and patience. As far as “dum” cooking is concerned, I wrote about it some in this post – As far as my knowledge goes – it stems from the persian/mughal style of cooking meat and rice together low and slow, with the idea being cooking the biryani with mostly steam. The lid to the earthern pots were sealed with dough so that no steam could escape. I will have to find you a reliable source on reading about dum cooking.

  2. Blue

    August 1, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Omg it looks so yummy and healthy. I love Indian food, chickpea curry is my favourite but I feel like this one is gonna replace it.

  3. Serena Millet

    August 1, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Yum! This looks delicious! I love doing meatless mondays for my family. I’m always looking for good vegetarian recipes to make!

  4. Sophia

    August 1, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    I’ve never even heard of this, but it sounds delish!!

  5. Luci

    August 2, 2018 at 1:21 am

    This looks so delicious. Perfect for a side dish for a meal or a light dinner.

  6. Jen @ Jenron Designs

    August 2, 2018 at 9:43 am

    5 stars
    OMG I love vegetable Biryani it is one of my favorite Indian dishes, well except for Samoa chat but that is more of snack or appetizer. Thanks for share this dish I look forward to trying to replicate this one at home.

  7. Brie

    August 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    I will definitely have to try this recipe this weekend.


    August 2, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    I am a big fan of biriyani and this looks like yummy tasty…Thanks for sharing them.. Perfect for a Sunday Afternoon

    1. Marjie Mare

      June 7, 2019 at 7:37 am

      One of my friends is Vegan, next time, she comes over, I will try your recipe. I hope it turns as good and pretty as yours.

  9. Melanie @ Punjabi Desi Foods

    August 19, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    This is extremely easy to make and also a very healthy and flavorful recipe to create this at home, Last time I visited this website for create the good rice recipe.

  10. Luna s

    June 5, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    I like the texture of chickpeas, this looks like a great dish.

  11. Sophie

    June 5, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    5 stars
    Big biryani lover here, and love your vegan twist with Chana masala. Awesome recipe

  12. kim

    June 5, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    looks gooad and healthy. Will have to try it out.

  13. Neil Alvin Nicerio

    June 5, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    How I wish I could make it as you do it. Last time I tried I failed so bad. Hahaha

  14. Pool Operator Talk

    June 5, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    The chickpeas look like they’ll be amazing bites of contrast of texture & flavor in a bed of rice that already packs a punch. I cannot wait to try this one!

  15. Estefany

    June 6, 2019 at 3:02 am

    Yummm this recipe looks so delicious and easy to follow! I’m all about good and eating a solid amount of nutrients!

  16. Van Cast

    June 6, 2019 at 6:02 am

    5 stars
    I didn’t know about Meatless Monday, it is a great initiative. The recipe looks delicious! Seriously Yummyyy

  17. Raychal Asuras

    June 6, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Definitely adding this to my recipe list, thanks for sharing!

  18. Jessie

    June 6, 2019 at 8:41 am

    My family is not keen on meatless meals, but I have began adopting meatless Monday’s and prepping enough for 3 days worth, as I begun my healthy lifestyle changes. This looks delicious and amazing

  19. Chesz

    June 6, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I feel like joining the Meatless Monday club. Haha.

  20. Devyani Gupta

    June 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    This is my absolute favorite!

  21. Hackytips

    June 6, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Somehow I don’t like Chana but once my friend made chana masala and it was yum. This looks delicious.

  22. Akriti

    June 7, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Such a yummy looking vegetarian take on the biryani. Looks amazing!

  23. Ashli Ferguson

    June 7, 2019 at 9:11 am

    I haven’t had breakfast yet and this is making my belly GROWL!! Looks delicious!

  24. Tracy @ Cleland Clan

    June 7, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    This looks so good! I’m trying to incorporate more meatless meals so I’ll be sure to try this.

  25. Jenn ~ onehoppymomma

    June 7, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    I’m always looking for recipes for meatless Mondays and this one is so unique

  26. Samantha Flores

    June 7, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Another dish I can’t wait to try out! Sounds delicious.

  27. Hoang Vi Fessenden

    June 9, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    This rice looks really good! I’ll have to try remaking it!

  28. Thuy

    June 9, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    I want to start doing a meatless day, haven’t worked out the details yet, but I want to add this recipe to my list of meatless meals to try at home with my boyfriend

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