Chana Masala


I love cooking with lots of different spices.

It makes me feel exotic.

Don’t these spices look SO exotic?

(You better say yes.)

Since I feel sumptuously sensual whenever I cook with coriander, curry and turmeric, I’ve resolved to cook more Indian food this year.  However, since I am still getting acquainted with Indian cuisine, I’m only choosing dishes that I have tried at least once.

One of these particular dishes is Chana Masala.  A friend from Bahran made this chickpea curry for me and I knew it was a dish I would like to eat again since I’m always looking for new ways to prepare chickpeas.

Chana Masala is great as a side dish or a vegetarian main course for those days when I don’t feel like cooking meat for dinner but still want something hearty.  And…it calls for lots of different spices!

Cooks Note: One thing to remember when cooking with lots of spices is that they can quickly go from vibrant to muddy without the right balance of flavors.  Onions, garlic and lemon to the rescue!

(I like to think of these three ingredients as “spice brighteners.”)

Now that we have our spices and our spice brighteners, lets have some fun with chickpeas!

Chana Masala

This recipe is an adaptation of the one found at Smitten Kitchen.  Great cooking blog, by the way.  Check it out here!

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Toss in two cups of chopped onions and a clove of minced garlic and saute for about 5 minutes until glossy. (not shown)

Sprinkle the onions with some ground coriander:

…ground cumin and turmeric:

…and as much cayenne as you dare (half a teaspoon is enough for me):

Stir onions and spices together for a minute; then dump in a can of whole tomatoes and break up.  (not shown)

Slowly pour in some chicken broth:

Drain and rinse two cans of chickpeas…

…and add them to the skillet:

Add some salt.  I used a pretty, pink Bolivian Rose sea salt.

(Bolivian Rose sea salt makes me feel extra exotic):

Add some paprika and garam masala (oops!  I should have added these with the other spices!  Forgive me.):

Cooks Note: Garam masala is a mixture of spices including cardamom, cinnamon and cumin and is very common in Indian cuisine.  Getcha some!

Since I did not have fresh ginger, I added 1/4 teaspoon of powdered ginger here:

On a whim, I also decided to round out the dish with a pat of butter:

Cover dish and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

Serve over a bed of Jasmine rice along with another hit of lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

Mmmm, chana masala.  Pure exotic goodness!

Here is the recipe:

Chana Masala

Serves 6-8

*1 tablespoon olive oil

*2 medium onions, minced

*1 large clove garlic, minced

*1 tablespoon ground coriander

*1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

*2 teaspoons ground cumin

*1 teaspoon ground turmeric

*2 teaspoons paprika

*1 teaspoon garam masala

*1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

*1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small

*2/3 cup chicken broth

*2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

*1/2 teaspoon salt

*1/2 lemon (juiced)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the spices.  Cook onion mixture for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the broth, chickpeas, salt, paprika and garam masala.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in lemon juice.  Serve over rice.  (This dish gets even better as it sits!)

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