Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chana Masala (Spiced Indian Chickpeas)

R is a chickpea man. He hearts chickpeas, be them whole, pureed in hummus or otherwise. I'm always on the lookout for fantastic chickpea recipes.

I started trying to find a good Chana Masala recipe. Chana Masala sounds fancy schmancy, but it is rather easy peasy to make. Chana is short for Chana Dal, the Indian word for "chickpea," and Masala is the Indian term for a tasty spice mixture.

In short, this recipe is for tasty, spicy cooked chickpeas.

If you've never cooked Indian food, this recipe would be a good place to start, since it is very similar to cooking a great spaghetti sauce: saute the onions, add garlic, add some salt and spices, let simmer...sound familiar?

Yes, you can make this dish!

Chana Masala

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup water
1 -28 ounce can crushed tomatoes -OR- 4 cups fresh finely diced tomatoes
2 -15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained -OR- 3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup low-fat Greek-style yogurt (optional)
1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
Basmati Rice

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook about 10 minutes or until they are brown and begin to caramelize a bit. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add a wee bit (1/2 teaspoon or so) extra oil if need be and add the spices (ground ginger through the garam masala).

Allow the spices to simmer for about 30 seconds or until they are very fragrant, but not burning.

Immediately add the water and gently deglaze (fancy word meaning: use your spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the very tasty bits) the pan. Allow the water to cook and evaporate as you stir.

Reduce heat to low and add the tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the chickpeas. Let simmer 15 minutes or until ready to eat.

You may add 1/4 cup of water* if necessary, each time the sauce seems to be too thick, while the sauce simmers. Just be sure that if you add water, it evaporates before you serve the dish so it isn't too runny.

Once you are ready to serve the dish, remove from heat, add the yogurt, if using, and stir well.

Serve over rice with a lemon wedge and some fresh cilantro, if using.

Serves 4-6 as a main dish.

*Adding water and allowing it to evaporate actually intensifies the flavors.

Life is sweet,


Anonymous said...

Hi! I can't wait to try this recipe. It will be my first attempt at Indian cuisine. I was actually wondering if you were using a cast iron pan in the photos above. I sure looks like it to me, but I could be mistaken. Thanks!

Kaitlyn said...

This recipe was great! We have some good Indian friends who make excellent curries and this is the closest to authentic I have been able to come in my kitchen! I added green chilies to give it more kick but it would be very flavorful without as well.

Sweet Pea Chef said...

Thanks Kaitlyn! I am glad it held up to the authentic standard!! :)

Sherry said...

We've made this a few times and really love it. I've adapted other curries to be more like this one because we love it so much. (Making it with lentils instead of chick peas right now!)