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Anyone can make Indian food at home, and this chickpea curry is how to start

Easy Chickpea Curry
Total time:1 hour 15 mins
Servings:4 to 6
Total time:1 hour 15 mins
Servings:4 to 6

More than anything else in the entire world, I hate, with all my heart, hyperbole. (See what I did there?)

Food media is no less guilty than anyone else (me at some point, no doubt). “This chocolate chip cookie is everything!” “How one grain of salt changed my life!!”

So I’m kind of already kicking myself for saying this, but I’m going to share a recipe with you that . . . changed my life.

I feel like there’s enough evidence to support the claim, though. I did not grow up eating Indian food, much less cooking it. I only tried it for the first time as a senior in college when I went out to eat with my then-boyfriend/now-husband. Once we moved in together, we started cooking together, and this Easy Chickpea Curry caught our attention.

Indian-spiced scrambled eggs are a breakfast-for-dinner hit

If you never came across it, food writer and cookbook author Kim O’Donnel had a late, great blog with The Post called A Mighty Appetite. Kim featured this recipe from the also great Indian cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey, in a post about chickpeas, an ingredient I hadn’t used a ton in my cooking either.

Indian often gets a rap as a cuisine that’s too complicated or too spicy or too time-consuming or too ingredient-heavy (or all of the above) to cook at home. This recipe disproves all of that and just happens to be bold and delicious to boot. It took every bit of intimidation away for me, and now my husband and I cook Indian food almost every week, often this dish. And chickpeas? They are practically their own food group in our house now.

The ingredient list might look long, but you probably already have much of it on hand in your pantry or refrigerator. Many of them just get tossed into a blender or food processor for a blink-and-you’re-done sauce. It’s also fairly flexible — a little more or less, or even none, of one spice won’t make or break the dish. (Just don’t skip frying the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick in the skillet first, which helps bloom the spices and flavor the oil, and therefore the curry.) It can easily absorb another potato if you’re feeding a crowd. Want to use up more of that bunch of cilantro? Throw it in for more vivid flavor and color. The kind and amount of fresh pepper you use is flexible, too. A few small green chiles are fine, but a quarter, half or even whole jalapeño, depending on how spicy you like things, works as well. Or skip it altogether, which is what I do for my toddler.

Yes, it’s my son’s favorite dish. Dare I say it might change his life, too?

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.


  • 8 ounces ripe tomato, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh hot green chiles of choice, such as 2 or 3 Thai green chiles or 1/4 to 1/2 jalapeño (optional; seeds removed, if desired)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 12 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 12 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole green cardamom pods, smashed with the flat side of a chef's knife
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 3 cups total)

Step 1

Combine the tomato, ginger, garlic, chiles, if using, cilantro, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 6 tablespoons of the water in a blender or food processor. Puree to form a smooth, pourable sauce.

Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #eatvoraciously.

Step 2

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and bay leaves; stir for 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the onion and potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens and the potatoes begin to turn golden.

Step 3

Stir in the pureed sauce, so the onion and potatoes are well coated. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover long enough to stir in the chickpeas, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1 cup of water. Once the mixture begins to bubble, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. (If the curry is bubbling too vigorously, reduce the heat to low.)

Step 4

Allow the curry to cool for a few minutes, then discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Serve warm.

Adapted from “From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes From the Indian Spice Trail,” by Madhur Jaffrey (Clarkson Potter, 2003).

Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.

Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #eatvoraciously.


Calories: 260; Total Fat: 10 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 600 mg; Carbohydrates: 35 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugars: 6 g; Protein: 9 g.