During my upbringing I was fortunate to have been exposed to the wonderful flavors of India, as my mother’s job would often send her overseas. When she visited India she would always return with a suitcase of colorful textiles, unique smelling incense, spice mixes, and an entirely new approach to cooking. I didn’t like spicy food at the time, so she would cook a traditional dhal (lentil stew) for me, and chana masala for her. Fast forward 18 years and I’ve now adapted the same unconditional love for chana masala (incense, textiles and traveling too!), and I especially love cooking with these earthy, grounding spices in the colder months. I hope this dish keeps you feeling warm and cozy this winter!
Five Step Chana Masala
Vegan, gluten/nut/soy free. 4 servings.
2 tbs coconut oil (or any other mild oil with a high smoke point)
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece ginger root
1 inch piece turmeric root (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
2 tsp garam masala (I get mine from a local Indian grocery store)
1 tsp mustard seeds (crushed using a mortar & pestle, or powdered)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne (or more for more heat)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups spinach (optional)
1 cup basmati rice (for serving)
Lemon (for serving)
Cilantro (for serving)
STEP 1: PREP
Prepare rice (I use a rice cooker). Chop onions and mince garlic, turmeric and ginger. Crush mustard seeds if using.
STEP 2: SAUTE
Warm coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toast cumin and mustard seeds until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to medium, add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add turmeric and ginger and cook 3-5 minutes, season with salt & pepper.
STEP 3: FLAVOR
Stir in garam masala, coriander powder, chili powder or cayenne (if using), then add tomato paste and tomatoes. Smash the tomatoes using the back of a wooden spoon, adding water if the consistency is too thick. Cook for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to absorb.
STEP 4: MIX
Stir in chickpeas, and continue smashing with wooden spoon. Once mixed, add spinach (if using).
STEP 5: ENJOY
Squeeze with lemon & top with cilantro. Enjoy!