Chana Masala

This recipe is incredibly cheap, easy to make in bulk and deliciously vegetarian. What’s not to like? It’s also one of the first Indian dishes I learned to make. There are as many recipes for this as for chocolate chip cookies, if you’ve got a variation or improvement, let me know!

  • 2 cups chick peas
  • 2 cups brown rice, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (olive oil also works)
  • 1 purple onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, choppped
  • 1 inch ginger, minced (1 tsp ginger powder also works)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 tbsp masala mix (or curry powder)
  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

1. Put the rice in the rice cooker or to boil on the stove top. Prep the onions, garlic, ginger, tomato and potato. Place the oil in a wok or soup pot on medium heat. Add onion and cook until mostly translucent. If using dried chickpeas, begin cooking them.

2. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir on medium for 3 minutes. Add the spices, and a 1/4 c. water.

3. Add the potato and tomato. Cook on medium until the potato softens.

4. Stir in the chickpeas and the baking soda. Stir, add salt to taste and cover for 15 minutes. It should be saucy, if not, add water.

5. Taste, add spices if necessary. Serve over warm rice, with plain yogurt (dahi) if desired.

A note about chickpeas. I generally buy dried chickpeas as they’re cheaper (about half the price of canned ones) and don’t have added preservatives. The downside is that you need to soak them for 24 hours before cooking. Also, they take about an hour of boiling to reach desired tenderness. Unless of course you have a pressure cooker.

Shooting steam is very difficult to take a picture of!

What is a pressure cooker, you ask? My thoughts exactly. When Varun and I were visiting his grandfather, Nanaji, in the village in India, we were sitting on the floor of the kitchen waiting for supper. There were two pots over a fire in the corner. All of the sudden, one pot let off a gush of steam and a loud hiss. I exclaimed, startled. Everyone began laughing at me, including the local who cooked for us. Apparently, this small house with limited electricity on a mountain in India had a piece of  technology I had yet to hear of: a pressure cooker.

In fact, it’s ingenious. Put in beans, chickpeas or potatoes with water, lock on the lid and wait for the appropriate number of whistles. Chickpeas is 4 whistles. Be careful of the steam and do wait for it to cool before taking off the lid!

When we eat Indian food, we often add chopped cilantro when it’s served, as well as plain yogurt. We also eat it with our hands, which Varun says is the best way to enjoy food. Buon Appetito!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ryan
    Oct 16, 2010 @ 02:47:25

    Hey Amelia – I just bought a bunch of dried chickpeas yesterday and soaked them, so I’m almost ready to make this.

    Just a question though: what’s the point of the baking soda?


    • Amelia
      Oct 19, 2010 @ 23:05:25

      @Ryan: Hope the recipe turned out well! The baking soda neutralizes the acidity of the tomatoes (the same way you’d add sugar to tomato sauce). How did it go?


  2. jessica
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 11:15:36

    Hey! Made this for my aunt and it was such a hit I am making it again tonight for a big group of friends! Thanks for posting it!


  3. Trackback: Cooking for the Experts « ESL Marriage

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