Creamy coconut milk and seasoned chickpeas make this a cozy fall meal! Add some brown rice to bring this pantry meal to the next level.
Chana Saag, sometimes called chickpea and spinach curry, comes from the Hindi word Chana, meaning chickpeas, and Saag, meaning greens. This meal only gets better as leftovers – and is a great meal to freeze and reheat as well.
Prep time: 15 mins ♦ Cook time: 25 mins ♦ Total time: 40 mins ♦ Yield: 6 servings of 1.5 cups
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp oil (olive, canola, sunflower)
- 1 medium onion
- 8 oz (about 4 cups) fresh spinach or 5 oz frozen spinach
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 1.5 cups dried brown rice (white rice is more commonly served with this dish but we are subbing in brown rice to get all of the benefits of whole grains)
- 15-oz can diced tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes diced
- ½ 15-oz can (approx. 1 cup) coconut milk
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp garam masala*
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Add the rice and 3 cups water to a saucepan. Cover with a lid, place the pot over high heat, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the heat off, and let the rice rest for 10 minutes, undisturbed, with the lid in place. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
- While the rice is cooking, dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate or mince the ginger. If using fresh tomatoes, dice the tomatoes.
- Drain the soaked chickpeas, wash well, drain, and set aside.
- Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a large skillet with the olive oil and sauté over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
- Add the cumin, garam masala, and paprika to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. Add the tomato and salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes more, or until the tomato has broken down.
- Add the rinsed chickpeas, frozen spinach, and a half cup of water to the skillet. Stir everything together and then bring it up to a simmer over medium heat. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
- After five minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the coconut milk. Depending on how thick you want the sauce, you can either just heat through or let it simmer until thickened. Leave your chana saag chunky – or if preferred, use a blender to purée some of the mixture.
- Add cayenne and lemon juice and mix in. Serve the creamy chickpeas and spinach over a bowl of warm rice or with roti or naan.
This recipe is adapted from Richa Hingle’s Chana Saag recipe.
Did you know?
*Garam masala is a spice blend widely used in Indian cuisine. Whole spices of cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamom pods are toasted in a pan to release their aromatic flavors, then ground to a powder. If you do not have garam masala, you can sub in a combination of these spices you might have: ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, fennel, mace, and bay leaves (bay leaves can be put in the put whole while cooking and removed once ready to eat).
Curry powder is not a common ingredient used in traditional Indian cooking, but rather an invention of British colonizers to evoke the flavors of Indian cuisine. Spices were a large part of why the British colonized India in the first place, and money from the vibrant spice trade went back into the British empire, not invested back into India. Curry powder is made of ground coriander, ground cumin, ground turmeric, ground ginger, dry mustard, ground black pepper, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, and cayenne pepper or ground chilies.
We demonstrate how to make Chana Saag in this Cooking Matters at Home virtual class video. Try it yourself and tell us about it in the comments!
Solid Ground’s Community Food Education (CFE) program hosts cooking and nutrition classes to support healthy and holistic living on a budget. The CFE team created this series of cooking videos to offer resources, tips, and tricks that you can practice at home. Visit our Food & Nutrition and Coronavirus Food Resources webpages for more food and nutrition info and resources.