Vegan Chana Masala or Chick Pea & Spinach Curry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I am posting this easy & delightful dish after the eggplant dish in case folks might actually feel ambitious & want to make an Indian feast with more than one flavor.  Both dishes are vegan – by chance, not design.  I have never seen a non-vegan version – so, if you are a die hard carnivore – do not be thrown by the word.  Both of these dishes seem deceptively rich despite being very, very healthy.



Chana Masala


29 oz can chick peas (or an equivalent of fresh soaked-overnight beans – if you are really motivated)

2 medium tomatoes – quartered

16 oz fresh spinach – chopped

1 in cube fresh ginger – chopped OR 3 TBS jarred crushed ginger

3 serrano chiles – seeded & roughly chopped

6 TBS olive oil

3 tsp cumin SEEDS – not ground

3 garlic cloves

2 TBS ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

2 tsp salt

1 TBS garam masala (if you can’t find it – you can make it:

15 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 more fresh ones – chopped)


Drain & wash the chick peas.  In a blender or with an immersion mixer – puree the 2 medium tomatoes with the serranos and the ginger.

Heat the oil in a pan.  When hot – add the cumin SEEDS & beware the spitting & popping.  They hurt if they hit you. Add the garlic.  Saute for a minute then add the tomato puree and all the dry spices.  Cook this for about 5 minutes until the mixture reduces by 1/4 to 1/2.

Stir in the spinach – adding a little water if it is needed to properly steam the spinach down.  Cover & cook for 3-4 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted but still vibrant.  Add the chick peas & the canned tomatoes (or chopped fresh) & stir them in.  You can add water if there isn’t enough gravy – or cook it down if it is too wet.  Cook this for another 5 minutes or so – longer if using dried chick peas.  Test a chick pea for texture & if it tastes done to you – you are good to go.

Serve over basmati rice.



2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.


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