Thursday 22 October 2009

MLLA Chana Masala

It has been a while since I have made a good spicy Indian meal. Not only do I need to feel motivated but I also need to have the ingredients. I saw Ashley’s recent version of Lisa’s Chana Masala (Spiced Chickpeas) and felt it was a recipe I could do. Unlike Lisa’s other recipe for Chana Masala it didn’t need a special spice mix but got its bite from spices I had in my pantry.

It wasn’t overly difficult but was a little fiddly when rushing to make dinner before feeding and bathing a baby. I had thought it would be quicker but I should have known better. I know that the proper way to make a curry is to have all the spices ready beforehand but I didn’t have time. Hence, as I had some spices in the pan and was about to add the cumin seeds, I couldn’t find me. Tonight I gritted my teeth in frustration when I found them but it was too late for the curry last week. So I just used a bit more ground cumin.

The first night we ate it with tomatoes, cucumber and bread. The next night I had some potato and silverbeet to make a saag aloo to go with them but I was too tired after Sylvia had been partying all night. So we just ate leftovers with toast. Sometimes life is like that in our household!

The chana masala was great. Lisa loves her spices so it was no surprise to find that it was very very spicy, even without the fresh chillis. I looked for the cardamom pods to remove them but couldn’t find all of them and found them most unpleasant to chew on. (Is there a way to find them easily or do others just enjoy chewing them?) Other than the cardamom pods, I loved the fragrant and interesting spice mixture coating the chickpeas and found it strangely comforting to eat. A bit like an Indian version of baked beans.

I am sending this beany dish to Jeanne of Cooksister for the 16th helping of My Legume Love Affair, a blog event that was founded by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook.

Chana Masala (Spicy Chickpeas)
adapted from Lisa’s Kitchen
serves 4

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained (or cook 1½ cups dried chickpeas)
2 tablespoons ghee or a mixture of butter and oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
*2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
5 green cardamom pods
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoon ground coriander
*½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon turmeric

2 - 4 finely chopped hot red and green chilies (I omitted)
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped (I used 3 small)
1 - 2 inch piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped

2 medium-large tomatoes, finely diced
juice from one small lemon (or half a medium lemon)
1 teaspoon of salt
freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon of garam masala

* I couldn’t find my cumin seeds so I omitted from the recipe and added an extra 1½ tsp to the ground cumin.

Heat the ghee or butter and oil in a large pot. When hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves. Stir and fry until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the cumin seeds begin to brown. (I just let them gently fry till I had chopped my onion, so my bay leaves were a little darker coloured than is ideal.)

Add chopped onion, and fry until it begins to brown. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and turmeric to the pan and stir for about a minute until the onions are well coated with the spices. Then, stir in the fresh chilies, garlic and ginger. Fry for a few minutes.

Next, add the tomatoes and lemon juice and cook for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the chickpeas, salt, black pepper, half of the parsley, and the garam masala. At this point, I had to attend to Sylvia and just added the ingredients and turned off the heat for about an hour or so but this is not necessary if you don’t have a demanding baby. Cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavours, adding a bit of water if necessary. The chickpeas should be fairly dry.

Remove the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick, and the cardamom pods if you can find them. Stir in the remaining parsley and serve hot.

On the Stereo:
Wilde Jaeger: Various Artists


  1. I am running out of meat (forget to order :D) so I am coming here for vegetarian delights.! This will be our dinner tonight! yay!

  2. That looks really, really good Johanna! You have put me in the mood for curry now and not the soup that is cooking away on the cooker. Oh well, maybe another night :)

  3. I've had this recipe tagged for quite some time now. The only thing I had been missing is the cardamom pods, so when I saw your post yesterday I ran out during lunch to an international grocer by my work that I was pretty sure would have them. They did! After seeing this recipe on 3 of my favorite blogs, I knew I couldn't wait anymore!

  4. This looks wonderful! I love curry and chickpeas. A great weekend meal

  5. Fabulous chana masala! I remember seeing this one and wanting to try it--thanks for the note re: spice (though I also love my spices). Sorry to hear that Sylvia was partying all night--ah, I remember the days ;) (of partying, not of cuddling a crying baby, that is!). Re: cardamom pods, I can never find them, either, but I can recognize the shape in my mouth now and just spit them out most of the time (and when I bite by mistake, ewww!).

  6. Thanks Anh - I had hoped to get your buckwheat dosa made to wrap the chickpeas but didn't have the time - enjoy your veg delights - so many to try!

    Thanks Sophie - yep - I love chickpeas in huge amounts and cardamom in small amounts :-)

    Thanks Mangocheeks - they are

    Thanks Jacqueline - maybe you need a few curry spices in your soup - I am still fondly remembering a curried pumpkin and lentil soup from a few weeks back

    Thanks Sarah - I was glad to use up some of my cardamom pods stash in the recipe as I don't use it too often - hope you enjoy

    Thanks Katie - it is good comfort food which is just what I want on weekends

    Thanks Ricki - this is spicy but in a fragrant way rather than just hot which is my sort of thing - chewing cardamom pods is not my sort of thing at all - I hope I can learn to recognise them like you!

  7. this is one of my favourite curries

  8. This reminds me that I should make Lisa's chana masala again soon! It's so good. I definitely do not enjoy chewing on cardamom pods! I try my best to find them.


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