This is Monica Bhide's simple recipe for chana masala, which she learned from her mother and adapted from its original pressure-cooker method.
Bhide prefers using MDH brand chana masala spice blend, which is available at Indian markets. Serve the curry with steamed rice.
Make Ahead: The curry takes about 2 hours to prepare. It can be cooled and frozen for a few weeks.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 black cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1-inch piece peeled ginger root, cut crosswise into thin slices
- 2 tablespoons chana masala (spice blend), preferably MDH brand
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-roasted, then ground (see NOTE)
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups water, plus more as needed
- 2 15.5-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Heat the oil in a large, deep nonstick saucepan until the oil begins to shimmer.
Add the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick and crushed cardamom pods; once they start to sizzle, cook for 20 seconds.
Add the onion and ginger; cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, until the onions pick up color and begin to caramelize.
While the onion-ginger mixture is cooking, combine the chana masala, ground cumin seeds, garam masala, ground coriander, red chili powder, if using, and salt in a small bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of water and stir to mix well.
Add to the saucepan and stir to combine; cook for about 1 minute, then add the chickpeas and stir to combine.
Add 2 cups of water and mix to incorporate; bring to a full boil and cook, stirring once or twice, for 2 to 3 minutes; then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the curry begins to thicken. (Add water as needed if the curry seems too thick.)
Use a spoon to extract 5 or 6 tablespoons of the chickpeas; mash them with the back of a wooden spoon, then return them to the saucepan; they will add texture and help thicken the curry.
Remove from the heat. Cover and let sit for about 1 hour, so the chickpeas absorb the flavor of the spices.
When ready to serve, heat through over low heat. If desired, remove the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom pod casings before serving.
NOTE: To prepare the cumin seeds for this recipe, heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds. Dry-roast for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring to prevent them from burning, until the seeds are fragrant. Let them cool, then grind to a powder in a dedicated spice grinder.
From cookbook author Monica Bhide.
Tested by Monica Bhide.
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