Heat a pot or large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sautee until onions are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and continue sauteeing until just fragrant.
Add in the dried spices (cumin, garam masala, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, salt, red pepper if using), stirring to coat. Once the spices are combined with the onion mixture, transfer to a blender. Puree the mixture with a 1/4 water, until creamy.
Add the puree back to the pot, adding in the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine. Once the mixture is homogeneous, add in the honey and chickpeas. At this point you can transfer the mixture to a slow cooker on low heat for 3-4 hours, OR let it simmer in the same pot for at least 30 minutes. You want the flavors to deepen and mature a bit!
Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package instructions. Once you add the rice and water together, add in the salt and turmeric, stirring to combine. The rice will have a slight yellow color and a subtle taste that complements the chana masala well.
When the chickpea and tomato mixture is nearly done, turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk. Stir to combine, then add in the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Top with cilantro, if desired.