This Chickpea Curry is really a south-Indian-style Chana Masala recipe, with a few additional ingredients that give it a distinct identity all its own. And it smells so good, you are going to be eating it by the ladleful, straight from the pot.
I love chickpeas — who doesn’t — and Chana Masala is a perennial favorite hereabouts. But this time I wanted something slightly different. It had to be utterly fragrant, not too spicy, and simply divine.
Into my south Indian style Chickpea Curry went some spices, like fennel seeds, which adds a sweetness and complexity prized in Indian cooking. Some fenugreek seeds, for that undetectable, bitter yin that makes so many south Indian dishes so gorgeous. And, of course, some coconut, because no decent south Indian would leave it out.
I am always a little nervous when I serve Jay something new. Although his eating habits have improved drastically since we first started, and he is actually eating most of his meals in less than 30 minutes, there is a lot that he still won’t eat. In fact,with most new foods, he will stare at the plate dolefully for a full five to 10 minutes before he will even try a spoonful. But this Chickpea Curry went down in a hurry. In fact, it took him under 10 minutes to polish off his plate and ask for seconds, which was a record. Part of it, I am sure, was that incredible fragrance. Did I mention that already?
Here’s the recipe. And do come back for seconds!
Chickpea Curry Recipe
- 4 cups boiled or canned chickpeas. Rinse if using canned.
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 sprig curry leaves, optional
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 cup of coriander leaves, chopped
- Salt to taste
- For masala powder or spice mix:
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp methi seeds
- 2 pods of green cardamom
- 1/2- inch stick of cinnamon
- Make a powder of all of the masala ingredients, in a spice grinder or a powerful blender. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds. When they sputter, add the onions, curry leaves if using, ginger and garlic.
- Sprinkle some salt and saute, over medium heat, adding a teaspoon or two of water if the ginger and garlic start to stick.
- When the onions are translucent, add the tomatoes, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, and the spice mix.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes darken and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the chickpeas and salt and stir well to mix. Add 2 cups of water.
- Bring the chickpea curry to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and let it warm through.
- Add salt. Garnish with leafy coriander and serve hot with rice.
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Try these Chana Masala variations from the archives: