Yesterday was Father’s Day, and while we might be on the cusp of summer, it was hard to tell if you looked up at the sky. The weekend was mostly dreary grey and rainy, true to Vancouver style. On days filled with grim, grey skies, don’t you find that you crave something warm and comforting? Sorry, salad. I’ll get to you when I’m on a patio basking under the glow of the summer sunshine. For now, I want warmth. And spice. And nostalgia.
Cue the chana masala.
Chana masala, or simply ‘chane,’ is a popular stewed chick pea dish. Unlike some of the restaurant Indian fare that you get, chana masala is a meal that is often made at home, and can range quite a bit in ingredients from home to home. But for me, chana masala brings back memories of outings to a popular, local Indian restaurant, where I would always, always, always order the chana bhatura. Chana bhatura is a meal of chana masala served with leavened, deep-fried Indian bread. Move aside, naan, because bhaturas have a special deep-fried spot in my heart.
While I love this dish with bhaturas, you could serve it with almost any Indian flatbread, basmati rice, or even have it on its own. Top it with cilantro or sliced (raw) onions and serve alongside yogurt. Delicious no matter how you eat it!
This dish is fast and easy, and while you might have all the ingredients lying around in your pantry, you should also be able to find the ingredients at any major supermarket. Indian grocers would also carry all of these items. I use dried chickpeas that have been softened before cooking, but you could also use canned in place of the dried.
Chana Masala (Indian Stewed Chickpeas)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves, whole
1 inch ginger, whole (or grated, or chopped)
2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
2.5-3 tsp salt
1.5 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin (ground)
½ tsp coriander (ground)
1 tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups chickpeas
3.5-4 cups water
2 tea bags (orange pekoe, I use Suraj brand, but any brand would work)
1. Place oil, onion, cinnamon, cloves and ginger into a large pot and turn heat onto med-high. Cook until aromatic and onions are just starting to get translucent (about 3 minutes).
2. Stir in cumin seeds. Cook for 1 minute, or until the seeds begin to pop slightly.
3. Stir in the chopped garlic and the chopped potatoes. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add in all the spices and stir. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
5. Add in chopped tomato and cook for 1-2 minutes, until tomatoes start to soften.
6. Stir in the tomato paste and 1 cup of the water (reserve the rest for later).
7. Turn the heat to high and add in all the chick peas and 2.5 cups of water. Allow this to come to a rapid boil.
8. Once the mixture has come to a rapid boil, turn heat to medium, give it a good stir, and add the tea bags. Try not to stir the mixture too vigorously after this point, as you don’t want the tea bags to rip open. Put the lid on the pot and leave it to cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
9. Take the lid off and give the mixture a gentle stir. If you want more gravy, carefully stir in ½ cup more water. The dish will also thicken up a bit as it cools. Let the dish cook, uncovered, for 3-5 more minutes.
10. Turn off heat. Remove the tea bags, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger (if you used a chunk of ginger). Garnish with chopped cilantro.