Chana Masala (Indian Chickpea Stew)
Where food is concerned, I feel that my self control is pretty decent (most of the time). If I’m in a room filled with desserts, I could bypass all of the German chocolate cakes and lemon squares and pecan bars without shedding a single tear. Well, maybe not the pecan bars. But if you bring me into an Indian restaurant and expect me to not eat ALL of the things, you have no business being in my company and you can show yourself out while I not-so-attractively inhale some malai kofta. Unfortunately, not all Indian food can be figure-friendly, especially when there’s delicious creamy sauces involved. So, I will save the chicken tikka masala for the occasional splurge, and during the week I will make this delicious chana masala instead. Chana Masala is a chickpea stew prepared with many of the warm spices that make Indian food so spectacular. Admittedly, I had to do my research when it came to spices. This was my first time making an Indian dish, and I was terrified that I would somehow epically mess up the spice mixture. But, I pooled my resources and found a few recipes for channa masala, picking and choosing spices and measurements I liked until I’d created my own. Spoiler Alert: It turned out great.
My inner summer camper wanted to make culinary sand art.
Another thing that’s great about this recipe is the way in which it can be reworked and repurposed. A few days after making this for the first time, I used this general recipe but replaced the chickpeas with chicken breast, used less stock, and added some coconut milk and a sprinkle of raisins toward the end. And, as a round two recipe, I made a spinach omelette for breakfast one morning and filled it with the chickpea stew, which was one of my better ideas.
The recipe I made was slightly different from others in that I added more vegetables and chopped the onions into larger slices rather than dicing them. I found this created a more filling and satisfying texture, but that is all up to your personal preference. Also, when serving this dish, I made a coconut jasmine rice, which I made by cooking long grain jasmine rice in a mixture of water and coconut milk with a tablespoon of coconut oil. I had about a 60/40 water to coconut milk ratio in order to cut the fat content, and the end result turned out fragrant and flavorful with a texture that sort of resembled sticky rice.
Indian Chana Masala (Chickpea Stew)
Servings: About 12
- 4 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 2 tbsp. unrefined virgin coconut oil (I use unrefined coconut oil whenever possible for the flavor and health benefits!)
- 3/4 inch fresh ginger root
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 cup baby spinach
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp. curry powder
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1.5 teaspoons garam masala (This is a special spice mixture used in Indian cuisine, the contents of which can easily be Googled and ground up at home if you can’t find it in a store)
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cube your tomatoes and toss them with minced garlic (2-3 cloves should cover all of the tomatoes). Place tomatoes into a baking dish that’s been lightly greased with coconut oil. Place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the skin begins to blister and juice forms in the pan. Mash roasted tomatoes into a pulp/sauce and set aside. Mince remaining 2-3 cloves garlic and the ginger root. In a pan, heat two tablespoons of coconut oil on low-medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and ginger and leave heat on very low, allowing them to sweat in the oil. Cut the onions into strips (or dice, whichever you prefer) and add to the pan along with the bay leaves. Raise heat to medium. Once the onions are partially cooked, you may decide to add about a half cup of vegetable stock to speed along the process and to make an onion “jam” of sorts. Combine spices (without salt/pepper/cayenne). To the pan, add chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, and spice mixture, adding the remaining broth gradually. Stir, and then let sit uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened. Add the lemon juice to the pan and stir, seasoning with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.