May 27, 2011

Veg it Out ~ Chana Masala (Chickpeas)

I grew up eating healthy dinners in a meat and potato household.  My dinner plate would almost always be divided equally in thirds between meat, potatoes and veggies.  I was also always the nerd who carried her lunch to school that usually smelled of green peppers and PB&J ~ I just never enjoyed eating what the cafeteria had to offer, sorry Ma!  My parents also always had a huge vegetable garden every summer that would keep our kitchen full of healthy goodness throughout the year. 

I think it was these early childhood eating habits that led to furthering my healthy endeavor and pick a vegetarian path.  As I've mentioned before, I've only been a vegetarian for well over a year now, with a few minor deviations thanks to some childhood favorites.  But all in all, I think my husband and I have stuck to the path quite well.  More on our vegetarian journey to come.

In the meantime, I want to share with you some of our favorite vegetarian recipes.
First on our agenda is Chana Masala.  This is an Indian dish of spicy chick peas with a hint of lemon.  If you are under the impression that making Indian food is difficult and time consuming, you'd be right about time consuming.  However, the only difficult part is being patient while cooking the onions!  They get me almost every time when I try to rush them.  Don't under cook them or burn them, just saute until they are golden.  Taste test if you are unsure.  They should not be crunchy, they should be soft and kind of melt away with a nutty sweet undertone.  My white girl secrets (what works for me) to making Indian patient, cook on low heat and make enough to have leftovers ~ its always better the next day!  And of course have a little fun.

Chana Masala
(adapted from

1 tablespoon olive or preferred oil
1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
2 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 large tomato, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups cooked chickpeas
2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 lemon (juiced)
2 fresh, Thai green chili pepper, finely chopped *
1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely diced
Salt to taste
  1. On medium heat, heat oil.
  2. Add onions and garlic.  Saute until golden, approximately 10 minutes.  Continue to stir so onions do not burn.
  3. Lower heat.  Add coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and turmeric.  Stir until onions are coated with spices.**
  4. Add tomatoes.
  5. Stir until tomatoes are cooked and you have a pasty mixture.
  6. Add chickpeas. Stir and coat chickpea with onion mixture.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add water. Stir.
  8. Add remaining ingredients, roasted cumin seed powder, garam masala, lemon juice, ginger and chili peppers.
  9. Cook approximately 20 minutes.
  10. Add salt to taste.
  11. Serve hot over rice or with roti.
*use more or less depending on your spice tolerance

**when adding spices to onions there is a tendency for there to be smoke, when heat is set too high.  If you want to avoid this, add the tomatoes to the onions first then add the spices. 

If you try, let me know how you like it!


1 comment:

  1. We aren't strict vegitartians but we definitley eat vegitarian at least 4 times a week. I'll have to try this out. I'm not too familiar with Indian food but I love trying new things.

    A few questions...
    Where do you find garam masala?
    What are you serving with it in the second picture?


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