Indian Chickpea and Spinach Curry is healthy, flavorful, tastes authentic but made with shortcuts for a quick weeknight meal.
Chickpea and Spinach Curry
We love curries! They are cozy, comforting, easy to make with warm spices and using your favorite protein and veggies. Chickpeas are one of our favorite pantry staple. It is healthy, filling, incredibly versatile and comes in handy when you want to whip up a easy meatless dinner.
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS RECIPE?
- Made in about 20 minutes - If you are learning your way around the kitchen, then it take about 30 minutes.
- Healthy - Made with wholesome ingredients, it packed with plant based protein, it is filling. Naturally vegan, gluten free and dairy free.
- Big on flavor - A combination of warming spices, aromatic vegetables, tomatoes and coconut milk, this is nothing short of flavor.
- Perfect for meal prep - Great to be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen for a rainy day.
IS THIS AUTHENTIC?
ALMOST! Authentic Indian curry at home will include fresh tomatoes and freshly ground coconut paste or milk. Whereas, this recipe uses two shortcuts like using canned tomato sauce and canned coconut milk, which makes it easy for a quick dinner. However, the remaining ingredients and method are very authentic and your family is sure to approve.
What kind of tomato sauce to use?
We used canned tomato sauce (such as Hunts or Contadina) or tomato passata. This helps in skipping the traditional, lengthy process of cooking tomatoes in oil, until all moisture is evaporated and oil is separated. Do not sub with marinara, pasta or pizza sauce.
Can I skip Coconut Milk?
If you don't have stock of canned milk, then feel free to use freshly ground coconut paste or powdered cashews instead.
Should I rinse the garbanzo beans after draining them?
Beans are packed in a cloudy, thick liquid to preserve for a long shelf life. This liquid is mostly excess starch and salt, that will change the flavor and texture of the recipe. So, it is important to give them a good rinse under water before using in any recipe.
Chickpea Curry VS Chana Masala
Chana masala ("Chana" meaning garbanzo beans and "masala" describes the spice blend) is a popular dish thought India and Pakistan. As the name describes, it is much more thicker and with a heavily spiced onion-tomato mixture, when compared to a curry.
With just a few basic ingredients and spices along with couple of cans, this is an easy recipe. See the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- Chickpeas - Rinsed and drained canned beans (or use about 2 cups of cooked).
- Spinach - Fresh baby spinach or coarsely chopped regular spinach.
- Coconut Milk - Canned coconut milk
- Spices - Coriander, Cayenne, turmeric and garam masala.
- Usual curry suspects - Cumin , onion, ginger, garlic and tomato.
PRO TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Chickpeas - Empty contents of a can into a colander and rinse well under under running water. Drain well before adding into the curry. If using soaked and cooked dried beans, use about 2 cups in this recipe.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons water along with spices - If you have more than enough oil in the pan then you can go ahead without water. Adding a dash of water helps spices not burn before getting a chance to be toasted, avoids sticking to the pan and cooks more evenly.
- Spiciness - Adjust cayenne powder based on your spice level. Cayenne pepper is the same as Indian chili powder.
- Resting time - Let curry rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. This helps it to further thicken the sauce.
VARIATIONS - Make it your own
This is one of those dishes that once you follow the base method, it can be easily customizable with whatever you have on hand. Here are a few ideas:
- Switch up the protein - Use chopped boneless, skinless chicken thighs, shrimp or paneer instead.
- Omit Spinach - If you are out of spinach then, simply omit spinach in this recipe.
- Kale - Skip spinach and add chopped kale along with group-3 ingredients.
- Potato - Skip spinach and add peeled, chopped potatoes (about 1-inch cubes) along with group-3 ingredients, cover and cook until potatoes are tender. Skip mashing.
- More vegetables - Feel free to mix and match veggies like cauliflower, carrot, sweet potato with spinach.
- Use light coconut milk for a lighter version.
HOW TO MAKE?
- Saute - Heat coconut oil in a pot and toast cumin seeds. Saute chopped onion, garlic and ginger until golden. Add all spices and cook stirring constantly, until the mixture gets shiny and spices are toasted.
- Simmer - Add tomato sauce, cooked chana, coconut milk, water and salt. Cover and cook on medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Uncover, and mash few beans lightly with a potato masher.
- Finish - Add spinach and a dash of sugar, cook until spinach is wilted.
- Let rest - Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
HOW TO SERVE?
This is fantastic served with cooked white basmati rice, naan, parathas, rotis or even a good crusty bread.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS?
Now that you've made a delicious creamy curried garbanzo beans, enjoy right away or refrigerate for quick weeknight dinners. This will last in the fridge for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed containers. Reheat in microwave until warmed through.
To Freeze - Scoop them into freezer safe containers or freezer bags, seal well and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature, empty contents into a microwave safe bowl and microwave until heated through.
TIP - Store in single serving containers or quart size zip lock bags, so you can thaw only what you need instead of the whole batch.
It is perfect for meal prep, because it lasts for several days and reheats well. Divide into containers with rice and refrigerate for up to 5 days. When it’s time to eat, simply reheat in the microwave until warm.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
It is a legume from the Fabaceae family and are also commonly known as garbanzo beans, bengal gram or channa. Channa masala is one of the most popular Indian garbanzo bean dishes that is served with flatbreads.
Yes. Garbanzo beans is a popular Spanish derived name for chickpeas.
Of course! I just use canned beans for convenience, but if you love to cook beans from scratch at home, go for it!
Yes. Proceed until step-4 in the instant pot in saute mode, close lid and cook for 4 minutes in normal pressure. Release pressure, open lid, switch to saute mode and finish as per instructions.
What can I do with a can of Chickpeas? Try any of the following ideas for easy meals:
- Chickpea Tacos
- Butter Chickpeas
- Curried Chickpea Soup
- Burrito Bowl with Garbanzo Beans
- Chickpea Lettuce wraps
- Mexican Chickpeas
Chickpea and Spinach Curry
- 3 handfuls baby spinach
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar
- Heat a deep pot with coconut oil, over medium heat.
- When hot, add cumin seeds and toast for few seconds. Add onion, garlic, ginger and about ½ teaspoon salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent (3 to 5 minutes).
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add all group-2 ingredients along with 1 to 2 tablespoons water (this will help the spices not stick/burn in the bottom and the water will evaporate in a minute), cook stirring constantly (2 to 3 minutes), until spices are toasted and mixture looks shiny.
- Add all group-3 ingredients and remaining salt, stir well, cover pot, increase heat to medium and cook for 12-15 minutes (stir once in between, to make sure that the curry doesn't stick at the bottom).
- Using a potato masher, mash chickpeas (just 2 to 3 times - this helps the curry to thicken and makes it more creamier).
- Add spinach and sugar, let cook for 2 to 3 minutes (uncovered), until spinach is wilted.
- Remove from heat and let curry cool slightly before serving.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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