Every home in India probably has their own version of Chana Masala and so does ours. I grew up eating the Sindhi version of this sweet, sour and perfectly spicy curry from my mother's kitchen. She often served this delicious protein-packed dish with hot and puffy puris. And, on days when she felt extra-indulgent, she would make the street-food version with crispy spiced potato patties called "Aloo Tikki"(recipe here). Indians love this dish so much that they line up at street stalls every evening, to savor it in ways it's served in different parts of the country. My tangy version below is great with puris, naan, rice, or drizzled generously over potato patties.
Ingredients for Chana Masala
1.5 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight in a large saucepan with 8 cups of water OR 2 cans of cooked chickpeas (about 400g each)
2-3 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) - optional
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
300g large red onions, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1-2 fresh bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder, optional
1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
1.5 teaspoons salt (more can be added to taste later)
200g tomato, pureed
3/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1. Rinse dried chickpeas and soak them in about 8 cups of water for about 8 hours or overnight. The following morning, drain water and place soaked chickpeas and 6 fresh cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cook partially covered for about 90 minutes or until chickpeas are very tender. (Alternatively, you can pressure cook chickpeas using 4 cups of fresh water. Reduce heat when pressure is full and cook for about 20 minutes on low heat. Open pressure cooker when air pressure is completely out).
2. Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup of hot water for 30 minutes. Strain tamarind through a sieve, mashing tamarind constantly in the sieve using a spoon until all the pulp is out of the fruit. Set pulp aside and discard any leftover seeds and fruit in the sieve.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan, on medium flame. Drop in hing, and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds start spluttering, add onions. Reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until onions start to soften.
4. Add ginger, garlic and chopped chilies. Stir-fry for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat until onions are soft and slightly brown. Add turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, salt, tomatoes and mix well. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until oil starts separating from the sauce.
5. Add cooked chickpeas along with 1 cup chickpea stock leftover from cooking. (If using canned chickpeas, drain and add chickpeas. Add 1 cups of fresh water if using canned chickpeas). Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
6. Add tamarind pulp and garam masala to chickpea curry. Stir well and bring to the boil on medium heat. Finally add coriander leaves and serve hot with bread, puris, naan or rice. Curried chickpeas also go beautifully with our crispy spiced potato patties (Aloo Tikki) and coriander chutney.
NOTE: To make dried chana masala, do not add chickpea stock or water to the curry. For spicier curry, add 1 teaspoon chana masala powder (available at Indian grocery stores) along with other dried spices.
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