Easy Chana Masala

Chana Masala Nachos
Chana Masala Nachos

I love Indian Food.  North Indian.  South Indian.  It’s all yummy.  If you’ve ever cooked Indian food from scratch, you know of the length of time it requires.  Although I agree that there are some foods that can be quick to prepare, for the most part, I associate Indian food with the Slow Cooker.  They have a good relationship.

Anyway, from my posts thus far, you should have some sort of an idea about how cheap of a chef I am.  I often get asked how much we spend on groceries, and how I do it.  I’ll make a post on that later (seems appropriate, right?), but for the meantime – you should know that I like to keep it cheap.  And cheap = simple; using ingredients that don’t cause me to have to run to Whole Foods to buy a JAR of something when I only need a TEASPOON of it.

… unless I plan to use it for the next 5 meals afterwards.  Like red curry paste and green curry paste.  I “splurge” on both.

Note: Splurge = $0.99 purchase for an unnecessary item

Chana Masala
Chana Masala

Having said that, Chana Masala readily accommodates caramelized onion and slow-roasted garlic (the combination of both is a great substitute for fenugreek!).  I, unfortunately didn’t have a single onion on-hand.  And, no time to roast garlic.  Go figure.  If you have a small yellow onion or a sweet onion, chop it up or dice it and caramelize in about 2 teaspoons mild flavored oil – coconut oil works great for this – and stir it into the tomatoes when you add the chickpeas.  Don’t use cooking spray!  The more I use it; the more I’m learning that it really doesn’t do well with high heat – or even extended periods of heat.

Indian food has such a great amount of depth of flavor that it’s hard to replicate the subtle layers of flavor variations using such a small number of spices.  Having said that, if you would like to add more flavor to this dish, increase the cumin by 1/2 teaspoon or even a full teaspoon and add some chopped cilantro at the end of cooking.  Add some heat by stirring in a little Sriracha sauce or add a seeded and diced jalapeño pepper to the pan when you add the tomatoes.

Side Note: I used sugar in this recipe to substitute for the sweetness of the *missing* caramelized onions.  If you add caramelized onions to this, leave out the sugar/sweetener.  You won’t need it.

Chana Masala
Chana Masala

Chana Masala

1 Tablespoon mild flavored oil – like: coconut oil (!)
3 cups chopped tomatoes
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and then chopped
1 teaspoon sweetener (I used sugar – substitute with small diced yellow or sweet onion, caramelized)
2 teaspoons garam masala (use store bought or make your own)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups cooked chickpeas
and pepper, to taste

Directions: Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add oil, tomatoes, and garlic.  Stir well.  Cover with a lid and cook for around 10-15 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to fall apart.  Add sweetener, masala, cumin, and chickpeas.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  When the lid is lifted, there should it should smell fragrant, like a melded spice.  You know it’s done when: (A) You smell the dish and can’t pick out the singular flavors or (B) You taste it (!) and you can’t pick out the singular flavors.  When you taste it, you shouldn’t be able to taste a fresh (or even sautéed) tomato or JUST the garam masala or JUST the chickpeas or JUST the cumin.  Hopefully, you understand the point.

Makes: 4 servings

Serve with cooked rice or quinoa.  Or, if you’re suddenly craving vegan junk food like me, make these

Vegan Chana Masala Nachos
Vegan Chana Masala Nachos

Happy eating!


4 thoughts on “Easy Chana Masala

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