EASY chana masala (chickpea curry)
So it's no secret that I love Indian food but what you might not know is that I never learned how to make it until after I got married. I actually didn't know how to cook at all until I was an adult. The ironic thing was that my career was in catering and event planning so I could plan a menu for any special occasion like a pro...making that meal was another story. The way that I learned...pretty much everything...was through youTube videos. I learned photography that way too along with so many other things. YouTube is an amazing thing.
I particularly loved learning recipes from different countries and the first thing that I attempted to make was an authentic Pad Thai...I mean, I went all out. Found an Asian market, got all the ingredients to make everything from scratch even including the sauce with palm sugar and 8 hours of time that I can't ever get back. It was AMAZING! From that point on, I was hooked. The funny thing is that as much fun as I had making those dishes, the ones that I ended up tweaking and making over and over again were simple, fast recipes that are not overly complicated. Because when life gets chaotic and hectic (which it always seems to do), having easy go-to recipes are perfect. This is one of them!
Easy Chana Masala. I usually get this every time I go to an Indian restaurant because it's vegetarian, gluten free and vegan and it really just compliments any protein that you pair it with. In fact, I absolutely love chickpeas and always have them on hand. I usually soak dried chickpeas overnight and then cook them in my beloved InstaPot but for this recipe, using a can is even easier. The list of ingredients may seem long but most of them are spices that you should have on hand if you ever cook Indian food and if you don't, and you love Indian food, you should totally make yourself a starter spice kit. Check back on my blog...I've posted what I keep in my kit and I use them all the time - here is a link.
Here is the line up for this tasty dish:
Most people who cook Indian food have these spices but some may not have the dried fenugreek leaves and amchur (dried mango) powder so if you don't, skip them. Now, if you really want to simplify this recipe and you have an Indian grocery store near you, they have spice blend boxes for chana masala that you can get. I hate storing all those boxes in my small kitchen so I prefer to use what I already have on hand. However, if you only make Indian food every now and again, then it would definitely be worth getting one of those instead of getting all the different spices individually.
With a bit of prep work chopping and dicing, we are ready to cook. I am a huge believer in prepping all the ingredients before hand because when you are ready to cook, I like to concentrate on cooking rather than cutting other ingredients and stuff. In the process of that, you could easily burn stages of your cooking. Plus with all your ingredients already prepped, the actual cooking portion goes by super quick!
In this case, I only had one can of chickpeas on hand so this recipe made a total of 2 servings. I also made a quick video which I will post to show how easy it all comes together:
Here is the full recipe! Indian food is really about people's preferences - if you don't like it too spicy, then eliminate the green chilies or reduce the red chili powder. If you don't have some of the spices, leave them out or add others. I sometimes use cinnamon sticks or whole black cardamons while cooking this and sometimes I don't. Just experiment with what you like, have in your spice cabinet, and make it fun!
Easy Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)
1 Tbsp avocado (or other vegetable) oil
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 green chilies, chopped finely
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ginger/garlic paste (equal parts garlic & ginger blended together with some water)
1 tomato, chopped finely
1/2 cup water
1 can chickpeas, rinsed in water and drained
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
chopped red onion (optional garnish)
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder (dried mango powder)
1/2 tsp salt
Heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds until they start to sizzle. Add the green chilies until they start to brown a little. Add the onions and a 1/2 tsp of salt to help the onions sweat. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Add in the ginger/garlic paste and cook for another minute...stirring frequently.
Add the tomatoes and mix everything together. Cover the pan and let the tomatoes cook and break down for about 5 more minutes.
Uncover and mix in the spice blend. Cook for about a minute so all the spices open up. Add water to thin out the mixture.
Add in the chickpeas and mix everything together. Cover the pan again and let cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until most of the water has cooked away.
Use the palm of your hand to crush the fenugreek leaves and add to the pan. Mix everything together well and cook uncovered until you get the consistency that you want. If serving with rice, then add more water for a thinner curry or if serving with roti's, then let most of the moisture cook away.
Stir in the fresh cilantro leaves right before serving and top with the chopped red onions.
I served mine with fresh roti's and pickled vegetables. Simple, fast and it really hits the spot especially while the weather is cool outside!
Give it a try and play around with it until you get yours to your taste. Enjoy!