Chana (Chickpea) Masala
Since I began consuming a mostly plant based diet, I found myself attracted towards ethnic cuisine when cooking and dining out. Vegan Thai, Ethiopian, Cuban, Jamaican, Brazilian, Mexican...you name it, I'll eat it! It's a false myth that vegans and vegetarians have a challenging time finding food when dining out. In fact, the only area of cuisine that is extremely limiting in plant based options is American based cuisine, with the occasional exception of a sad looking veggie burger or salad. Indian cuisine, however, is one that my taste buds have had the pleasure of exploring too much and I am very much looking forward to changing that.
Recently I visited the Veggie Grill in El Segundo and indulged in the Chana Masala offering. It was absolutely delicious and I found myself doing the usual mental breakdown of flavors and ingredients. While shopping at Sprouts one day I found a package of masala mix and got inspired to use it in an Indian inspired vegan dish. This version is so packed with spices and amazing flavors, not to mention very easy and inexpensive to reproduce. Not to mention, a great source of plant based protein (for all the 'where to vegans get their protein' haters)! Peep this cool chart I found that gives a great visual of some of the nutritional offerings of chickpeas: Note that 1 C of cooked garbanzos offer a whopping 29% of our daily recommended intake of protein!
Enjoy, and feel free to drop the names of some amazing L.A. Indian restaurants in the comments below!
**Masala mix I purchased contains a blend of: ground sunflower seeds, salt, coriander, black pepper, cumin, chiles, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, and turmeric
- 1 Can Coconut Milk
- 1 Can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
- 1 Can Stewed Tomatoes
- 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP Coconut Oil
- 1 C Chopped White Onion
- 1/3 C Chopped Garlic
- 1 TBSP minced ginger
- 1 package Masala Spice Blend
- Spices: 4-6 dashes Turmeric, 5 dashes canyenne (more if you like SPICY), 5 dashes garlic powder, 5 dashes African Smoke seasoning
- 1 C Long Grain Brown Rice (Basmati preferred)- Makes 2- 1c servings of cooked rice
- Cilantro for garnish
- Heat extra virgin olive oil in pan, and add roughly chopped onion. Let onion sauté for about 2-3 min or they begin to turn translucent and release flavor. Add roughly chopped garlic, coconut oil, cover, and let simmer for another 2 min.
- Add masala seasoning to onion/garlic mixture as well as other spices, and mix well until a paste begins to form. Be sure to keep stirring with spatula or spoon to keep mixture from sticking to pan and burning.
- I recommend blending the canned tomatoes in blender for a couple seconds or roughly dice smaller to release more of the tomato juice. Then add tomatoes with juice to pan. Cover, and let mixture come to a high simmer.
- Slowly stir coconut milk into spice/tomato mix. Cover once again, letting mixture come to a high simmer. Then add chickpeas to pan, cover, and allow a low simmer for about 15-20 min, allowing the chickpeas to absorb all of the masala spicy goodness.
***Chef's Note: I preferred my chana masala to be more of a stew, so I uncovered the pan and allowed mixture to simmer on medium heat for an extra 10 min to release some water and allow chickpeas to absorb even more flavor. Also, I would suggest adding an extra can of chickpeas.
Serve: Pour a generous helping of the chana masala over brown rice (1 c rice + 3 c water, simmer for 30-40 min), and garnish beautifully with fresh cilantro or other herbs you have available.