How to Prepare Channa Masala

If you have a few cans of chickpeas in your pantry and a handful of Indian spices, you’re on your way to a classic curry! Chickpea curry is a comforting classic that’s got crushed tomatoes, garlic, and ginger along with heaps of aromatic spices. Curl up with a bowl of channa masala and steamed rice or fluffy naan and enjoy.

[Edit]Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 to 6 green Thai chilies, to taste, roughly chopped
  • of lemon juice, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) of salt
  • of vegetable oil or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) of black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) of whole cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) of ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 g) of garam masala, divided
  • 14.5-ounce (411 g) can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • of water, plus more for caramelizing the onions
  • 2 15.5-ounce (439 g) cans of chickpeas
  • 1 cup (25 g) of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Makes 4 to 6 servings

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Classic Channa Masala

  1. Blend garlic, ginger, chilies, salt, and half of the lemon juice into a smooth paste. Roughly chop 4 cloves of garlic, a piece of peeled ginger, and 1 to 6 green Thai chilies. Then, put them into a blender with of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) of salt. Blend the aromatic ingredients until they’re combined in a smooth paste.[1]
    Prepare Channa Masala Step 1.jpg
    • Don’t have a blender or food processor? No problem. Traditionally, you can use a pestle to grind these ingredients in a mortar. It just takes a little more effort!
    • For spicier channa masala, use all 6 Thai chilies. Feel free to use fewer chilies for a milder meal.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high and fry the seeds for 15 seconds. Set a large pot on the stove and pour in of vegetable oil or ghee. Turn the burner to medium-high and heat the oil until it shimmers. Then, add 2 teaspoons (8 g) of black mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon (4 g) of whole cumin seeds. They’ll start popping as soon as you add them to the oil, but don’t worry! They’ll become intensely flavorful as you fry them for 15 seconds.[2]
    • Since this part of the channa masala comes together really quickly, have your diced onion all ready to add to the pot.
  3. Fry a diced onion with baking soda in the oil for 3 or 4 minutes. You don’t want the hot oil to splatter, so slowly add 1 finely diced onion to the pot and stir in 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) of baking soda. Baking soda might seem like a strange ingredient, but it helps the onions caramelize faster so you get a ton of flavor. Stir the onions frequently and cook them until you see a brown coating on the bottom of your pot.[3]
    • To save even more time, dice the onion in your blender or food processor.
  4. Cook the onions for 10 minutes or until they’re caramelized. Give your channa masala a rich depth of flavor by cooking the onions until they’re deep brown in color. Stir in of water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Repeat this every few minutes until your onions are soft, dark, and caramelized.[4]
    • It’s really important to add only 1 splash of water at a time so the onions can absorb it right away.
  5. Stir the garlic-chili paste into the onions along with the remaining spices. Now that you have a flavorful onion base, stir the garlic-chili paste you blended into the onions and stir really well. Then, add these spices and stir for about 30 seconds:[5]
    • 2 teaspoons (8 g) of ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of ground turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon (4 g) of garam masala
  6. Add 1 can of tomatoes, 2 cans of chickpeas, and of chickpea liquid. Open a 14.5-ounce (411 g) can of whole peeled tomatoes and crush each tomato with your hand before you add it to the pot. Then, open 2 15.5-ounce (439 g) cans of chickpeas and drain then, but reserve of liquid. Add the chickpeas and the reserved liquid to the pot and stir really well.[6]
    • If you accidentally drain all of the chickpea liquid, don’t worry! Just use the same amount of water.
  7. Simmer the channa masala for 30 minutes. Now that you’ve got almost all of your channa masala ingredients in the pot, give it a chance to heat up! Once the liquid starts to bubble, turn the burner down to medium and set a lid on the pot so it’s slightly cracked. This lets moisture escape so your channa masala will thicken as it cooks. Simmer it for 30 minutes so the flavors blend.[7]
    Prepare Channa Masala Step 7.jpg
    • Stir the channa masala a few times as it simmers and turn the burner down if it boils vigorously. If it looks like it’s not bubbling at all, turn up the burner until it does.
  8. Stir in the rest of the garam masala and lemon juice. To give your channa masala an extra burst of fresh flavor, mix in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of garam masala and of lemon juice. Now you can taste it and decide if it needs a little more salt.[8]
  9. Garnish the channa masala with freshly chopped cilantro. Turn off the burner and transfer the channa masala to a beautiful serving dish if you want to bring it to the table. Just before you’re ready to serve it, scatter 1 cup (25 g) of roughly chopped cilantro leaves on top. Then, set out steamed rice or naan and tuck in![9]
    • If you’ve got leftovers, stick them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. The flavors will get better over time, although the chickpeas might continue to soften.

[Edit]Variations

  1. Cook your chickpeas from scratch if you want fluffier, creamier legumes. Canned chickpeas are a fantastic shortcut if you’re crunched for time, but nothing beats cooking the chickpeas in the pot along with the tomatoes. Soak about 1 cup (200 g) of dried chickpeas in cold water overnight. Then, simmer the chickpeas for 5 minutes and drain them before you add them to the pot with the tomatoes.[10]
    Prepare Channa Masala Step 10.jpg
    • Try to use dried chickpeas that haven’t been in your pantry forever. Beans do get old and they’ll take a lot longer to cook than beans you just picked up from the store.
  2. Substitute coconut or almond milk for the water if you want a creamier curry. Channa masala is a spice-forward curry that doesn’t usually have the mellow flavor that a coconut-based curry does. Not a fan of bold curry flavors? Just swap out the of water with coconut or almond milk. Either of these will soften the flavor of the spices.[11]
    • If you don’t want to adjust the flavor of the entire dish, you could stir a spoonful of plain yogurt or curd into a single serving. Try this trick with kids who are sensitive to spices.
  3. Add a handful of spinach or Swiss chard if you want to include leafy greens. Curry is a great way to sneak healthy vegetables into a meal. Stir a handful of chopped spinach or Swiss chard into the pot when you add the chickpeas and tomatoes. They’ll soften and break down as the channa masala simmers.[12]
    • Want to round out the meal? If you’re not serving other curries with your channa masala, make it heartier by adding diced potatoes when you add the chickpeas and simmer them until they’re tender.
  4. Adjust the spices based on the flavors you like. One of the great things about making channa masala is that you can customize it! Think of the spices in the ingredients list as suggestions and play around with adding or substituting spices to create your own unique flavors.[13]
    Prepare Channa Masala Step 13.jpg
    • For example, some people add cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves to their channa masala. You might also try cardamom if you like a slight citrus flavor.

[Edit]Tips

  • Check your local Indian market for any ingredients you can’t find at the grocery store or order them online.

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large pot
  • Spoon
  • Blender or food processor
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Can opener

[Edit]References

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