Chana Masala

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Ollie’s class has been “eating the alphabet” this year. From his teacher:

C was Chana Masala, an Indian chickpea curry dish. And the kids GOBBLED it up. They loved it. We insisted that everyone take at least one bite – and a good deal of the class ate and ate and ate.

Well, we’ve made this a couple of times now, and his enthusiasm hasn’t waned.



The Journey:

I love Indian food as much as the next guy, and I never seem to eat it often enough. By which I mean, no matter how often I eat it, it could always be more.


It is almost comedic how many spices are in this. Here is a picture of the aftermath, and believe me, this wasn’t all of it.


(My favorite part of this picture is the spray of red in the lower right corner there. Did the paprika get out of control in the madness of supper prep? Did the cayenne explode in an ecstasy of flavor? Did Ollie have to cut someone to get an extra helping? We don’t know.)

The Verdict:


This is a good recipe, but I just have not been able to master making Indian food like a native. I understand I didn’t exactly grow up making this kind of food, but…there’s something I’m missing. Maybe the chickpeas need to cook longer? I don’t know.

In the meantime, Ollie sure doesn’t seem to mind this as a suitable replacement.


The Recipe:

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
  2. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned (Note: make sure the onions are a little extra brown!)
  3. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, paprika and garam masala.
  4. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan.
  5. Add the water and chickpeas.
  6. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

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