Chana Masala for the Faithless Baker
Dear readers, please try to restrain yourselves.
I apologize for any alarm and consternation this post may have provoked — it was most certainly unintended!
“But this is not cake!” You cry, rightfully indignant. “We were promised fifty-two weeks of eggs, sugar, and flour, yet this chickpea recipe contains not one ounce of egg, sugar, OR flour! You didn’t even use an oven! Do you call this baking?! Et Tu, Brute?!”
Again, I apologize for adding yet another source of inconstancy into a world already overflowing with variables. Let me explain myself. Perhaps after reading the following recipe and being seduced by its deliciousness, nutritiousness, and ease, you will find it in your hearts to forgive my well-intended (and likely to be repeated) offense.
I submit for your judgment my tale.
January 2021. With the new year full of promise and optimism in my heart, I set out to write a charming little baking blog. Charming is perhaps too generous; at the very least, I set out to write about baking.
I warned my roommate and the cat about my intention to try our oven’s patience and got to work, baking muffins, cookies, and cakes to my heart’s content. Soon the apartment transformed into a miniature of Willy Wonka’s factory — or else the sight of a spectacular and premature midlife crisis — suffused with the near-constant scents of browning butter, toasting coconut, and melting chocolate, cooling racks piling up with blondies, brownies, 9-inch rounds, and oh-so-many fragrant, delectable crumbs.
Here’s the thing.
Despite what Marie Antoinette may have thought, a woman cannot live on the cake. And, especially during a time when it is difficult to form new relationships, she should not test the patience of all those near and/or dear to her by forcing them to live off her excesses, either.
So I intend — with my dear readers’* willing compliance — to occasionally augment my baking-dominated blog with recipes of a more savory, stove-top nature, like this super easy chana masala recipe.
*Putting “readers” in the plural was quite bold of me, wasn’t it, Mom? Though I assume you are still my most consistent reader, I’m optimistic at least one other person (are you there, Grandma?) might read this post.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, just read the following recipe and tell me you don’t want to try it (believe me, you do). It comes to us from the spectacularly user-friendly field guide to quick, easy, and healthy vegetarian meals: Lisa Turner’s The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Delicious Meals for Busy People.
My brother’s fabulous partner gifted this cookbook to me just this Christmas, and it has already proven itself a godsend. Every recipe uses recognizable and affordable ingredients, and yes, they really do take only half an hour to pull together. Best of all, they’re healthy but satisfying, and very, very tasty. Where were you during my college years, Ms. Turner?
I can’t speak to its authenticity, but chana masala as presented here is a delicious and fragrant curry of North Indian origin, comprised of chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, and spices. I’ve served it with rice or naan, but I personally love to eat with my hands, so I like the latter option.
Chana Masala (from Lisa Turner’s The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Delicious Meals for Busy People)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (I used 3 cloves, minced)
- 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I used about a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and then grated on the tiniest holes of my grater)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a gentle boil and simmer over medium heat for another 10 minutes to thicken.
- Stir in the chickpeas, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add the garam masala, lemon juice, and salt, and stir well to combine.
- Serve hot, and enjoy!
A tip from Ms. Turner: “Garam masala is an aromatic spice blend that can be found at most supermarkets. To prepare your own variation, while the chickpeas are simmering, combine 1/2 teaspoon black pepper + 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and cloves.”
On top of being wonderfully flavorful and fragrant, I find garam masala to be a rather versatile spice blend, so I think it’s worth buying a small jar of the stuff — you can usually find it in your grocery’s “International” aisle if it’s not with the other spices.
Happy snacking! (Or rather, dining!)