Channa Masala (spiced chickpeas)
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Freezes well
I’ve recently begun cooking for a new client who was born and raised in India. We met when he and his wife came to our weekend dinner bistro and he tried my yellow lentil dal as an appetizer. He commented that it was “very authentic without being too rich or oily”. It was a slow evening in the cafe so we got to talking about my training in Indian cooking. Next thing you know, we’re all exchanging contact information and three days later I made my first batch of foods for them. I prepared six different Indian dishes – one of which was this channa masala – they all got rave reviews! When I cook Indian foods, I keep the traditional techniques in mind, but always go lighter in fat than what a traditional version would contain. This is my all-time favorite channa masala, I’ve made so many variations over the years, and now I’m done experimenting. This is my keeper! This recipe uses canned chickpeas for a quick prep time, but it’s equally good made with with 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained, cooked until tender and then added to the recipe. ~ Susan
2 cans chickpeas – rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or ghee (Indian clarified butter)
1/4 teaspoon hing (also called asafoetida, at Asian/Indian markets)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons besan (also called gram flour*, it’s actually chickpea flour)
4 large roma tomatoes – pureed in food processor or blender
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger (I use a microplane)
1 medium jalapeno pepper – seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne – more or less to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon sea salt – more or less to taste
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
fresh tomatoes, red onion and cilantro for garnish
* Not to be confused with ‘graham’ flour – they’re 2 different things. You can make your own besan by putting a handful of dried chickpeas in a clean coffee grinder and grinding them into a fine powder. Strain powder through a fine mesh strainer to sort out the bigger pieces and use the fine powder in your recipe.
Heat the oil in a little pool in a large skillet or soup pot.
Add the hing and cumin seeds to the pool of oil and let them sizzle for a few seconds, then sprinkle the besan (chickpea flour) into the pool of oil and let it cook just until lightly toasted (a few more seconds is all you’ll need).
Add the pureed tomato, ginger, jalapeno, turmeric, cayenne and coriander, stir together and cook over medium high heat until the mixture reduces by half.
Add the chickpeas, sea salt and the water, stir, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Uncover, turn off heat, sprinkle in the garam masala and stir well to combine all the flavors.
Use a potato masher or the back of a large wooden spoon to mash about a third of the chickpeas.
Serve garnished with the fresh tomatoes, chopped red onion and cilantro.
Make an easy meal of channa masala by serving with brown rice or a traditional Indian flatbread such as roti, naan, or chapati, along with some tasty chutney (there are so many great all-natural jarred varieties, pick up a few varieties and keep them in the pantry until you need them, they last forever in the fridge) and a chopped cucumber salad dressed with yogurt and a pinch of salt.
If you’re avoiding grains, serve a simple mash of potatoes and cauliflower in place of the brown rice/bread. I frequently do this for us at home and we love it!