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November 19, 2009

Chana Masala

When dining out, you can usually count on my vote going to Thai or Indian food. Let's face it, American cuisine is largely not veggie friendly (or at very least mostly uninspiring), with menus often yielding only a couple of choices. So for heat-freak vegetarians like myself, veggie packed Indian and Thai curries reign supreme.

I've dabbled at home with Thai cooking with some success, but for some reason I have been reserved about cooking Indian curries. It might have (or definitely) had something to do with the inevitable long list of spices that comes with each recipe, most of which were not already in my pantry.

Well, since joining the food blogging community my pantry has changed quite a bit. This was thanks to being inspired by simpler dishes with a shorter list of spices to get me started, and also thanks to discovering a great international grocer down the road with an amazing supply of inexpensive spices. Over the last few months each time I went shopping I'd pick out one or two more spices to add to my collection, and now I am pretty well stocked.

I've had my eye on Lisa's Chana Masala for ages now, it just kept popping up everywhere! I've made this twice now in the past two weeks and my reservations about preparing Indian curries at home are quickly dissolving. If you are like I used to be, let me encourage you to start working on your pantry so that you can have Indian yummies at home, it is so very worth it!

Oh, and this is what happens when I photograph food on my bedroom floor next to my big window. Evie just wants to be near the action all the time. I do apologize if you don't find kitties and kitty paws as cute as I do, don't let that detract from this delicious dish!

Chana Masala
(from Lisa's Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups of dried chickpeas
2 - 3 tablespoons of ghee or a mixture of butter and oil (or to make vegan, just use oil)
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
5 green or black cardamom pods
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 - 4 finely chopped hot red and green chilies
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 - 2 inch piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped

2 medium-large tomatoes, finely diced
juice from one small lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon of garam masala

Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 - 2 hours or until the chickpeas are buttersoft. Drain well and set aside. (I did this a day ahead)

Heat the 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.

Throw in the onions, and stir and fry until they begin to brown. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and turmeric to the pan and stir until the onions are well coated with the spices - about 1 minute. Then, add the fresh chilies, garlic and ginger. Stir and fry for a few minutes.

Next, add the tomatoes, half of the lemon juice and cook to thicken, about 10 minutes. Put the chickpeas into the tomato mixture, add the salt, some black pepper, half of the parsley, the remaining lemon juice and the garam masala. Cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors, adding a bit of water if necessary. The chickpeas should be fairly dry.

Remove the bay leaves if you are using whole ones, and the cinnamon stick. Stir in the remaining parsley and serve hot.


  1. I adore the kitty in the picture pics! And kudos to you for taking the leap with cooking Indian. I"m still a bit shy myself, have done a few curries and palak paneer (very easy and works well with tofu as a substitute for the paneer.) Looking forward to more forays into your pantry spices!

  2. Wow... that looks fantastic! You're putting me in the mood for Indian food! Thanks for sharing!


  3. This post couldn't come at a better time. We are trying to perfect our channa malsala. We just can't get it quite right. We will try this recipe!

  4. That looks so yummy! I am a big fan of Indian food too, it's probably my favorite type of cuisine. I love the kitty in the background of your pics.

  5. That looks and sounds so good!

    I have definitely been someone intimidated by lots of unfamilliar spices, but I'm working up to it like you did. Before trying more veg recipes I didn't have cumin, coriander or turmeric and now I have all 3. I guess I'll have to add garam masala and cinnamon sticks to this weeks' grocery list.

  6. Yum! So funny, I just made chana masala on Monday! And I'm with you on the Indian food, it's the perfect vegi vs. non-vegi compomise!

  7. OMG! Your Chana Masala looks so delicious! I'm the same way, I've wanted to make Indian curries for the longest time and I don't have all the spices each recipe called for. Now you've inspired me to give it a go, thanks for the link to the recipe:)

    p.s. You have the cutest kitty ever:)

  8. Kitties and kitty paws are adorable! Mine try to get into food shots too.

    My best friend in college was from Madras so I have been cooking curries for a long time. All you need is one good Indian cookbook to get started on the basics. At least that is how it worked for me.

    If you are interested I posted my homemade curry powder on my blog. It is very simple and has much more flavor than the store bought variaties.


  9. Hello! My first visit here...found you via Erin of Fresh 365... you have such a beautiful, tasty blog! I'm an ovo-lacto veggie, but hubby still eats meat/fish ;o) I love your Chana Masala... And your kitties are beautiful too. Give me kitty cat paws and good veggie food! Your place here is very inspiring--I look forward to visiting again. :o)

  10. I love chana massala, but I haven't tried making it, despite already having a very good selection of Indian spices. I've bookmarked your recipe.

    Oh, and your cat is adorable.

  11. yum! i always get chana massala when i go to indian restaurants, but i've never made it. definitely need to try this sometime. and i love your cat in the photo!

  12. This looks so delicious - will definitely try it!

  13. Just made this, but added a can of coconut milk at the end. Made a really delicious sauce for the basmati rice. Thanks for sharing!!

  14. i love the pics with pussycat! i have just shared on my blog :)


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