Though I didn’t eat much Indian food until after I started college, I’ve grown to love it. I remember the first time I ate at Chapati in Northfield, while I was a student at St. Olaf College. The mango lassi was delicious and the entrees were pretty good, too. I’ve been hooked ever since. I just happened to find a pretty simple recipe for chana masala in a book I was reading and decided to give it a shot.
Makes 4 servings.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander (I ground up coriander seeds, as that’s what I had)
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala, plus more for serving, if desired
- 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- one 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped; more for serving, if desired
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, with any stray skins removed
- 1/3 cup yogurt (optional addition at the end; omit to make recipe vegan)
- lemon wedges (optional addition at the end)
- Heat olive oil in dutch oven or another large pan. Add onion, and cook until caramelized. I am terrible at this – my onions usually end up browned/burnt. I place some of the blame on my stove, that seems to think low heat = medium, and medium heat = burn everything in the pan. Here’s a helpful slideshow if you too struggle to create perfectly caramelized onions.
- Reduce heat to low, and add the garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, garam masala, cardamom pods, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
- Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated.
- Pour in the juice from the can of tomatoes, then pour in the tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands as you do so. Beware of squirting tomatoes! I made a bit of a mess when I started breaking up the first tomato. Be sure to get rid of any tough parts, too, like the area near where the stem was attached. I like bigger chunks of tomato, but if you don’t you can always mash them up with a fork or potato masher.
- Raise the heat, if needed, to bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat so everything’s a-simmerin’, then add the pepper flakes and cilantro. Cook, stirring as needed, until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Add the chickpeas, and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for 5 minutes longer, then add another 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for another 5 minutes.*
- Stir in the yogurt if desired (it got a little weird looking at this point – probably some curdling action going on), or squeeze some lemon juice over the dish. I personally think it tastes fine without any additions, but feel free to do whatever suits your fancy. Top with a bit of cilantro and a sprinkle of garam masala, if desired.
*The original recipe notes that this process of adding water and cooking it off “helps concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome.”
One goal that I have with this cooking blog is to push myself to try cooking new things, particularly more dishes from different cultures (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc). I think the onigiri I made last month and this chana masala are a good start; I’m excited about the possibilities.