Lately I’ve discovered my never ending love for chickpeas. For a couple weeks now, I’ve been simmering pre-cooked chickpeas with harissa and a little chicken stock and serving them over fluffy couscous for lunches. The flavor of the harissa is wonderful with the creamy chickpeas and it’s a filling and simple lunch that hasn’t bored me yet.
But I decided to broaden my chickpea horizons after having found a recipe for one of my favorite Indian dishes – Channa Masala. I love curries of all sorts, but Indian food at home has at times intimidated me. I wanted to try this preparation and happened to already have the various spices the recipe calls for (I omitted a few I didn’t have).
Channa Masala (or sometimes chole masala) is a chickpea curry, popular in Punjab, that often includes chopped onions, tomatoes and flavorings of garlic, chilis, ginger, garam masala and a dried mango powder known as amchoor.
As I learned, Masala is a word used throughout India for any spice blend whether it be a mixture of two or three or 10 or more. One of the most popular and well known malasa is that of garam. I was given a little packet of homemade garam masala not too long ago and have been wanting to use it for a special occasion.
While I’m unsure the exact recipe in this particular garam masala, recipes for it can include the following dry-roasted, ground spices — everything from black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamon, to dried chiles, fennel, mace, or nutmeg. Garam is the Indian word for warm or hot and this spice mixture brings spices from colder climates of Northern India to add warmth and heat to dishes (to both palate and spirit as my food dictionary eloquently put it).
This recipe is from the great chef Madhur Jaffrey, the guru of Indian cuisine. It was surprisingly easy once you’ve amassed all the ingredients and spices. It’s flavorful and rich with a little heat and a lot of depth from the layers of spices. I even added some purple potatoes that I got from my CSA share which were the perfect addition (and added a nice pop of color).
There’s a Slate article that purports the best way to make Channa Masala (using freshly ground spices and soaking the chickpeas for hours as opposed to the canned version) but I trust Madhur Jaffrey to steer me in the right direction. At least this recipe has proven how easy it is to make channa masala at home and I can continue on my path to perfecting the balance of flavors and spices with this as a starting point.
Serve over white or brown rice with naan to soak up remaining juices and to counter the heat!
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onions, minced
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 6 tbsp chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp amchoor powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- Heat oil in a large skillet.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté over a medium heat until browned, about 3-5 minutes.
- Turn heat to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and turmeric. Stir to combine, coating the onions and garlic.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until browned lightly.
- Add chickpeas, a cup of water and stir to combine.
- Add the roasted cumin, amchoor, paprika, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
- Add the minced chili, ginger and continue cooking, uncovered, for 5 minutes.