Anyone else always get excited for Indian food?? Maybe it’s just me (the half-Indian side of me…) but I love a good Indian dish. Chana Masala is the one on rotate most frequently in our home because it seems to be the easiest to make with items on hand in our pantry. I’m sharing my take on the recipe, which is made a bit creamier and more unctuous with the addition of coconut milk and tad bit of sweetness.
The Curry Base
Like any good curry, this chana starts with the basics – onion, garlic and ginger. I love using red onion because of the slight sweetness it brings, but you could use normal yellow onions as well. Once the veggies are sauteed, you can mix in the spices and let them cook a bit with the onion, garlic, ginger and oil.
Making the sauce naturally creamy
The *key* to this creamy chana masala is the secret blend step!! Once the onion, garlic and ginger are well cooked with the spices, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree with a bit of water. The mixture will look thick but once you add back the puree to the tomatoes and let the mixture simmer, it will thin out a bit. At least 30 minutes is ideal for simmering, but if you have time you can throw everything in a slow cooker and let it cook on low for several hours. At the end you can add coconut milk for an even creamier touch – I find that this addition balances out the acidity of the tomatoes well.
Creamy Chana Masala with Turmeric Rice
- 2 Tablespoons oil coconut or canola
- 1 red onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika smoked is great
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes optional, for additional heat
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 28- ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste ketchup works too
- 1 can chickpeas garbanzo beans, drained (use 2 cans if you want a larger chickpea to sauce ratio)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Cilantro to taste
- 1 cup white basmati rice
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Heat a pot or large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sautee until onions are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and continue sauteeing until just fragrant.
- Add in the dried spices (cumin, garam masala, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, salt, red pepper if using), stirring to coat. Once the spices are combined with the onion mixture, transfer to a blender. Puree the mixture with a 1/4 water, until creamy.
- Add the puree back to the pot, adding in the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine. Once the mixture is homogeneous, add in the honey and chickpeas. At this point you can transfer the mixture to a slow cooker on low heat for 3-4 hours, OR let it simmer in the same pot for at least 30 minutes. You want the flavors to deepen and mature a bit!
- Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package instructions. Once you add the rice and water together, add in the salt and turmeric, stirring to combine. The rice will have a slight yellow color and a subtle taste that complements the chana masala well.
- When the chickpea and tomato mixture is nearly done, turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk. Stir to combine, then add in the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Top with cilantro, if desired.