Chana masala or chickpea curry is a quintessential Indian dish. This can be served warm with rotis, naans or hot rice and a generous dollop of Messy Mango pickle – Finger licking good!
Don’t let the length of this recipe put you off, once you can create this chana masala recipe, you can replace the chickpeas with black-eyed beans, lentils, boiled eggs or peas to create a version of your own.
Preparation time – 40 minutes
– Boiled Chickpeas – 200gm
– 1 Black tea bag
– 1 inch Ginger
– 3 cloves of Garlic
– 1 medium Green Chilli (or more if you fancy)
– 1 tbsp Ghee
– 1 Big Cardamom
– 2 Bay leaves
– 1 medium Red onion finely chopped
– 2 tsp Cumin seeds
– 2 tsp Coriander powder
– 2 tsp Chhole powder or Chana powder (can be bought at any Indian grocery shop). If not available, use regular garam masala.
– 1tbsp Tomato puree (or 1 medium tomato, ground to paste)
For garnish –
– Juice of ½ lime (lemon would also do)
– Handful of Coriander leaves, finely chopped
– few juliennes of Ginger
– 2 tbsp Messy Mango Pickle
Step 1 – Pour the chickpeas out of the cans and add 2 cups of fresh boiling water. Add the tea bag and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Step 2 – Turn off the heat, squeeze the tea bag and discard. The tea bag gives the dish a deep dark colour.
Preparing the masala (spices) –
Step 3 – In a mortar, grind ginger and garlic together with a pinch of salt (this will draw out the moisture and help them grind finer). If not using mortar-pestle, chop them finely.
Step 4 – Slit the green chilli length-wise and chop it finely.
Step 5 – In a heavy base pan heat the ghee, add cumin, cardamom and bay leaves. Wait for the cumin seed to crackle. It is important to NOT let the cumin burn as that gives the curry a bitter flavour. If it does burn, throw away the spices and start again.
Step 6 – Add the onions, half a teaspoon of salt and start frying. Stir every now and then. Again it is important to not let the onions burn. If they start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a bit more ghee or a teaspoon of water.
Step 7 – After 2 minutes add ginger, garlic and chilli. Stir for another 5-6 minutes, till the onions are cooked.
Step 8 – In a separate small bowl, put the coriander and chana masala powder/ garam masala. Add about 2 tablespoons of water and make a paste of the spices. This makes sure that the spices don’t burn as we add them to the pan. Pour into the pan with onions etc. Cook for a minute, stirring occasionally.
Step 9 – Add the tomato puree/paste, mix well and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium heat. It is okay now for the paste to stick to the pan – when it does, just scrap it off – the slightly burnt bits add more flavour. Cooking the masala for a longer period adds a deeper flavour and darker colour to the dish. If it starts burning, reduce heat, add 1 tbsp of water and carry on cooking.
Step 10 – Now add the cooked chickpeas to the masala – preferably not the other way around as the pan with the sticky masala has most flavour. Adjust salt and leave to cook on low flame for 10-15 min. If you need more sauce, slowly add hot water and stir constantly.
Step 11 – Just before serving, squeeze half a lime, garnish with coriander leaves and ginger slices.
Step 12 – Serve with warm rice and Messy Mango Pickle.