Inspired by mom and grandma.
Growing up, I jumped at any excuse to break from my homework or any other after-school activity to watch and help my mom cook. Everything was methodical but not precise — she, like my grandma, never measured anything before it reached the pot or pan, and yet, each dish would turn out remarkably every time. I’d always incredulously wonder how she did it. Fast forward to now, and I do exactly the same thing. It’s from my mom I learned that the key to cooking is to rely mostly on andaaz which in Hindi translates to your own style, or estimation. And that to me is one of the best parts of cooking — you iterate and change until you surprise even yourself.
This chana masala is one of the first recipes I knew I had to add to my cookbook. It’s inspired by the one I saw my mom make every week. It’s easy to make (I’m not mad at canned chickpeas, let me just say!), flavorful, and an absolute crowd-pleaser. It might just become your new favorite way to eat chickpeas.
Chana Masala from Love to Cook It
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry mango powder (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 cup vegetable stock
1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls fresh spinach
Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
Cooked rice, quinoa, or bread for serving
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onions, and stir-fry until the masala has roasted and the “raw” masala smell disappears, 2 – 3 minutes. Feel free to add a splash of water if it looks like your masala is starting to burn!
Add the tomato paste and cook it with the spices, allowing it to darken in color for about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and cook with the masala, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour the vegetable broth into the pot and bring the masala to a boil. Then reduce it to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas. Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring throughout. You can cook it longer if you want the chana masala to be a little bit thicker.
Add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Garnish the chana masala with cilantro and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Serve it with rice, quinoa or bread.