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Sunday 5/21 - Chana Masala

I've tried several chana masala recipes over the last few months, and found every one lacking in some way - until now. A little while ago I stumbled upon this recipe, and, having a plain Whole Soy yogurt languishing in the fridge anyway, decided to give it a go. And it was spectacular. Seriously, the best chana masala I've ever had, including restaurant versions. I love the stuff at Passage to India, but this version has such a lovely, creamy sauce that I'm left scooping the last bits of tomato from the bottom of my bowl. And I'm not usually one to go after tomatoes specifically, so that's really a testament to how delicious this stuff is.

I'm going to re-post the recipe here with the (very minimal) changes that I made.

Chana Masala
Original recipe from Orangette

1/2 to 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
lemon wedges, optional

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves. Add the salt.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the soy yogurt. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges, if desired. Serve.

Yield: About four servings

Nutritional Info: 306 calories, 6 g fat (0.75 g saturation fat), 10.25 g fiber, 11.5 g protein per serving.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Good stuff. I'm gonna make this sometime this week.

The word "chickpeas" always makes me laugh. I dunno why.

They are NOT chickpeas they are Garbanzo Beans! The first time someone said chick peas to me I had no f'ing idea what they were talking about. Until they whipped out the package and showed me. Then I felt a bit stupid.

I have never heard of chana masala. This probably goes to my lack of experience in the indian food department. Is it spicy? When I find some soy yogurt I'll have to try it.

Did you buy those bowls at Target? I think I have the same ones.

Is there really a debate between calling them chickpeas or garbanzo beans. I think they're both kinda funny names. Garbanzo sounds like a Muppet Show character...picture Animal screeming it...Ahh...Garbanzo!!!!! Anyway..I digress...

The recipe looks wonderful. I'm going to have to try it! Thanks for posting the recipe...I don't have one that I've fallen in love with yet.

PS - another gorgeous picture.

kleo - Chickpea makes me laugh as well. Not as much as GARBANZO though. :)

jessie - They can be both! The can also be chana or channa or chole. Or probably a million other names. Everyone loves a chickpea/garbanzo/whateverthehell. This recipe isn't spicy at all, at least to my tongue, but I used a very small pinch of cayenne - you can adjust it that way. I did in fact get my dishes at Target. I've been drooling over your polka dot ones every time I'm there. Because I am a dish whore.

megan - No official debate that I'm aware of. Just... different names for the same thing. They are both funny names, though, especially garbanzo. It's funny you should mention the muppets; the imagery that I get from "garbanzo" is a small, fat mexican wrestler. The Masked Garbanzo! Fear him! Worship him! Eat him smothered in tomato sauce for he a good source of protein and fibeeeeeer!

Definitely try this recipe out. I can't guarantee you'll fall in love, but this particular garbanzo is a very charming fellow. :)

P.S. - Thanks!

Mmmmm…looks so good! I will have to try this out. There are always spices I don’t have on hand in the recipes you post so I have to go out and buy them, my spice cabinet is about to explode now…lol! I did not know that cardamon came in pods. I should really find an Indian market to go to, there has to be one somewhere near me.

this one is a winner, isn't it? I've made it several times and I love it.

You are my hero! I am a diehard chickpea fan and I LOVE chana masala. This place near my office called Little India makes the best one and I keep trying to duplicate their recipe to no avail. I swear I've tried 10 chana masala recipes and they are all wrong!!! I'm totally trying yours tonight.

shananigans - Cardamom comes in two kinds of pods! Make sure you get the green ones and not the black. The black ones scare me. When I first started dabbling in Indian cooking I had to buy a boatload of spices, but luckily there's a wonderful Indian grocery nearby that made the process fairly painless. I would definitely look for one - spices are better there, really, and so much cheaper.

emily - It definitely is! For me, the search for the perfect chana masala has ended. :)

kat - YES! I always wanted to be someone's hero. Unfortunately I can't take credit for the recipe - I'm just replicating perfection here. :) Definitely make it, though. This stuff goes to 11.

Oh man, I'm so super excited to try this at some point. Thanks for posting the recipe. I am a freak when it comes to ANYTHING Indian. I seriously cannot get enough of those spices. Mmmmm.

Seriously, Indian is pretty much the best food ever. I think it's ruined me for blander food. :)

I would have made this today if I have soy yogurt. But for sure I'd like to try it. Chana Masala is my nickname around here.

Thanks for posting the recipe.

You may not have created the recipe, but you DID seek it out & test it, along with others, to find the BEST one. That's work! :) So thanks for that.

I looooove cardamom. I have the whole pods, as well as ground stuff (for baking), but the best is the shelled pods. There is a hardcore spice store here that sells them shelled for pretty cheap. ;)

I totally eat in the polkadot bowl all the time. It is one of my favorites.

I didn't know that cardamom came in pods, never mind two different colored pods. Aside from being a scary black color is there any difference between the green and black pods?

I implore you, oh knowledgeable indian cook, please recomend a good indian cookbook.

Wow that looks damn appetizing. I saw that recipe when Emily of VeggieSupreme linked to it but I'm wary on making my own Indian food yet as I've only truly developed a taste for it this past year. So you should invite me over for a bowl, basically ; )

By the way, I made the Corn Chowder this weekend - hell yeah it's amazing. I'm in awe of how spicy it's supposed to be, as my boyfriend's not a spicy fan and I doubled the recipe - so it was as 1/4 as spicy as it should be have been and it was still hot! I upped the spice in my own bowl too, though~

kaivegan - It's so funny that that's your nickname. :) I hope you like it if you give it a go!

kat - I've never seen cardamom for sale shelled but not ground. I usually just whiz the pods in my spice grinder for a few seconds.

jessie - Black cardamom is a lot bigger, a lot wrinklier, and apparently has a very, very different flavor, though what exactly that flavor is I can't say because I've never had it. I know that it definitely can't be substituted for the green stuff, though. As far as Indian cookbooks go, I actually only have two - but I would definitely recommend Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. It's not entirely Indian or entirely vegan, but it's weighted heavily in those directions. I've never made something bad from it. And it's HUGE, so there's a recipe for every ingredient you could possible have on hand.

jess - Well if you're interested in making the cross-country trek, I'll totally make you some chana masala! It's the least I could do after you came all this way. :) I never found the corn chowder very spicy at all, but sometimes I don't have a jalapeno or whatever kind of chile is called for on hand so I just leave it out. Who knows. I'd much rather err on the side of being less spicy, because one time I made something that was so so so hot that we had to throw it all away. There was physical pain involved. Never again.

The Boy's brother-in-law is the type who eats chiles whole. I'm pretty sure his throat is lined with steel.

What a beautiful dish. But I'm not a huge fan of Indian food because of the spices (even mild). Oh well...

Aww, that's sad. :( I'm sure you could make something similar and just spice some other way, though.

That's funny, I thought the chowder was too mild the first time I made it! Now I throw in an extra jalapeno chili and a few more shakes of cayenne and it's perfect. I made it for a pot luck a few weeks ago and everyone is in love with it. My favorite soup recipe by far, yum!

Oh, I just realized…did you seed the jalapenos before chopping them up? The seeds are what really adds the heat, the rest of the chili adds the flavor ;o)

Okay, VC, I just stopped by to print the recipe. Thanks again.

Shanigans - Yes I did seed the jalapenos because the recipe said to - personally I love the heat in the recipe but my boyfried doesn't so I tuned it down. You make an interesting note on seeding, I *thought* that's where the heat comes from and was perplexed as to why I was discarding them.

I made the chana masala for dinner last night and I am so in love, thank you! Both me and the boyfriend thoroughly enjoyed it. I even took pretty pictures so I can post on my own blog. :) I found this cute little Indian grocery called Bharat Bazaar about a mile from my place, I could even walk there if I wanted to. They have a hot food bar and some seating as well, I think I’ll have some lunch there soon

Isn't it the best? I'm so glad I came across this recipe. I'm jealous that your Indian grocery has a mini restaurant! Mine occasionally has samosas for sale at the counter, and but I never know when. Which is sad because they're excellent samosas.

Hey, thanks! I made the chana masala, too and blogged about it a bit. Our indian grocer sells samosas at the counter too, but like yours, we never know when. It's in a strip mall, 2 doors from a good indian restaurant. Isn't that great?

I am so nervous but I've bought mustard seeds so I have most of the ingredients to make this. Any tips for someone who has never made a curry before??

Don't be nervous! It's easy. The only thing I can think to say about this dish is to make sure you let the onions brown enough. A little burnt around the edges is perfect. But are you even going to use onions? Because I know you don't like them. Hmm. Really, just taste it as you go along and adjust. It's that kind of recipe. Good luck! :)

i hate to sound cliche, but if youre really into cooking quality indian cuisine check out this site i found. they have a great veggie section with some of the best recipes ive found so far. most of the recipe sites out there seem to have dumbed down versions of authentic recipes, but this one is for real. let me know what you think. enjoy!

DELICIOUS! I had to substitute a thick slurry of creamed coconut (it comes in a little package and it's really concentrated). I forgot to check my soy yogurt before I started cooking and when I got to the point of adding it, I looked and realized it had gone bad. BOO! But the coconut milk was a pretty good substitute, I think. I usually make tomato-chickpea curry with coconut milk so it was similar to that but the spices in this recipe were so wonderful! Thanks for this recipe!

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