It’s hard to beat a meal that tastes as good as something you’d get from a fine restaurant, yet takes about as much hands-on time as a box of store-bought mac and cheese. Amazingly, though, that’s the truth behind this chickpea curry, according to chef and food writer Susan Olayinka of The Flexible Fridge. She says that this delicious dish "goes from stove to plate about 30 minutes" as it requires less than five minutes of prep time.
Know what’s also worth celebrating? This chickpea curry is a great dinner option for anyone. Yes, really, everyone. It suits all diners, from vegans to ultimate carnivores. You can also pack a ton of vegetables in without anyone noticing, a win-win for those of you dealing with picky eaters or who simply want a few more veggies in your diet. This recipe is also convenient to make with a can of pre-cooked beans as the showstopper ingredient.
The other great thing about this savory, sweet stew? It is made entirely with shelf-stable and freezer ingredients, including "chickpeas, coconut milk, curry powder, stock, and mixed frozen vegetables," says Olayinka. Nonetheless, it comes with a fresh, nourishing, and mouthwatering taste. "The curry serves best with rice and naan bread," Olayinka adds. Of course, fresh veggies are welcome too, as long as you don’t mind making added work for yourself with all that peeling and chopping and whatnot!
Gather your ingredients for chickpea curry
As noted, you can keep everything needed for this meal on hand at all times. That even goes for the naan, which freezes well for months at a time. That’s true whether it’s store-bought naan or, better yet, homemade naan! You’ll need one 14 to 16 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed, along with a can of full-fat coconut milk, 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 small onion, diced, 2 cloves of garlic, minced, a teaspoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of turmeric, 2 tablespoons of curry powder (Olayinka recommends mild, but your call), a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and a bay leaf. However, Olayinka says, "the vegetables used are interchangeable, making it a good dinner option to add on your weekly menu — you will feel like you are having a different meal each time."
And don’t forget about rice, cooked per package instructions. Almost any variety will do, though something relatively neutral like white or basmati rice would pair well with the flavor of the curry. You can also use naan, a classic style of Indian flatbread. And maybe a drizzle of lime juice for added excitement with an acidic zing.
Cook your onions and garlic, then add the chickpeas
Turn on the stove to medium heat and pour the oil into a relatively large, deep pan. After the oil has heated, add the chopped onion to the pan and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onion begins to turn translucent and is getting fragrant, toss in the chopped garlic and keep stirring and cooking. Keep an eye on the cooking aromatics, as you don’t want the garlic to burn.
When the garlic is also growing fragrant, pour the chickpeas into the pan and mix everything together well. And, for the record, it’s your call on taking the skin off the chickpeas. It’s not a necessary step, though many people prefer to do so to reduce the starchiness. Consider trying this dish with the de-skinned chickpeas at least once, in order to decide if the extra step is worth your time.
Add the veggies and spices for chickpea curry
Immediately after adding the chickpeas to the pan, go ahead and pour in the mixed vegetables. Ideally, you will have thawed these out ahead of time, but don’t fear if you’re really crushed for time. If you’re working with frozen veggies, simply let them get up to heat before proceeding with the spices. Either way, stir the veggies in with the onion, garlic, and chickpeas. Once these ingredients are thoroughly mixed and warmed through, add the curry powder, chili powder, turmeric, bay leaf into the pot. Though the recipe calls for mild curry powder, feel free to add in some spicier stuff if you so desire. That said, remember that it’s actually a food myth that all Indian food is ultra-spicy.
Stir and mix everything together for about two to three minutes, enjoying as the warm fragrance of the spices begins to fill your kitchen.
Add in the coconut milk to the chickpea curry, then simmer
Once the spices are well mixed in with the veggies, chickpeas, onion, and garlic and have cooked for a couple of minutes, pour the coconut milk into the pot. Mix everything well until the color of the stew is uniform, meaning there are no white streaks from the coconut milk nor bands or pockets of color from the spices.
Now simmer the chickpea curry stew gently for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sauce turns a slightly dark yellow. Then, give the mix a good stir every 5 to 10 minutes. "Avoid turning the heat on high," Olayinka cautions, as "medium heat allows it to cook low and slow so all the spices infuse the coconut milk and beans." Since you’ve saved so much prep time with canned and frozen ingredients, rest assured that you can spare a few minutes to really let the flavors meld together.
Remove the bay leaf and serve your refreshingly easy, amazingly tasty masterpiece with rice, naan, or whatever sounds great.