Chickpea Spinach Curry (Chana Palak Masala)

Chickpea Spinach Curry (Chana Palak Masala)
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This incredibly tasty, healthy, filling, vegan, and cheap-to-make chickpea spinach curry, can be made in less than half an hour. It easily doubles up to feed a crowd, or to simply save you cooking another meal a different day.

Tender chickpeas in a tomato-onion gravy with soft spinach, boldly flavored with just a handful of spices, this curry is the absolute business.

This recipe will make four large servings, or six if served with some basmati rice, naan bread, and perhaps a tangy tasty kachumber salad to round it off.

Chickpea spinach curry is tastier and healthier than any take-away, at a fraction of the price, and is also impressive enough to serve if entertaining, with some crispy cauliflower pakora as a starter.

Even my kids go crazy for this mild curry, although feel free to increase the spice if you like it hot. I love spicy curries, and especially chickpea ones. If you prefer a milder curry simply tamp down the hot spices, or my vegan one-pot Tikka Masala might also be a great recipe for you.

Lots of iron from the spinach, protein from the chickpeas, and just a touch of coconut milk to add richness, make this one of the healthiest, most flavourful curries you could eat. I love a beautiful soft garlic naan bread to pair with this chickpea curry as well.

It is perfectly complemented by plain basmati rice, but if you fancy something more flavourful, try it with my easy lemon rice with coconut.

A large bowl of chickpea curry with naan bread on the side and a smaller bowl of white rice.

How to make Chickpea Spinach Curry

This is one of the easiest curries I make at home, inspired by my time in India – despite the fact that they don’t really call dishes like this “curries” there (this dish would be called chana palak masala).

Finely chop your onion and fry in about two tablespoons of a flavorless oil, such as sunflower oil, over a medium heat until golden. Add in your grated ginger and crushed garlic and cook, stirring often, for one-two minutes until the raw smell of the garlic disappears.

Then add all the spices EXCEPT the garam masala (so the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper).

Toast the spices for around two minutes, stirring often. Next add your tinned pureed tomatoes, the chickpeas, and the vegetable stock. If you’re using stock cubes make sure they are high quality or you’ll be sorry as the claggy taste of a bad stock cube can really ruin this curry.

Stir and increase the heat, bringing the curry to the boil, then reduce the temperature to maintain bubbling away at a lively simmer. Simmer for ten minutes and then add the frozen or fresh spinach, sugar, salt, and simmer for a further five minutes.

If your spinach is frozen you may need to increase the heat for a few minutes to bring the curry back to a simmer.

A front view of a blue bowl filled with rice, naan bread, and chickpea curry with coriander sprinkled on top.

Add half a teaspoon of salt first and taste when everything has been added and the curry is finished before adding more, as the amount needed will really depend on the stock you used.

When the five minutes are up, take the pan off the heat and mix in the lemon juice, garam masala, coconut milk, and chopped coriander leaves. Done.

It’s that easy. I generally put my rice on before I make the curry so that everything is ready around the same time and I can eat straight away. This curry will last around five days in the fridge and freezes beautifully.

How to cook basmati rice properly

I know, this seems really stupid and unnecessary, right? But the thing is, I’m superrrr picky about my rice, and particularly basmati, which tends to be more expensive than regular rice. Each fragrant grain must be clearly defined, firm, and fragrant, yet perfectly soft.

I just won’t eat mushy rice and if it happens in our household (I swear I’m NOT looking at you handsome husband…) then it invariably ends up its life back in the kitchen with me, becoming rice pudding.

Chickpea spinach curry in  a blue bowl with naan bread in the background

And to be fair, I had to relearn how to cook rice when I initially came to Spain. In Ireland for most of my life, I thought cooking rice meant grabbing a box of uncle Ben’s and boiling up a bag of it. I had finally mastered the skill of cooking rice that didn’t come in a bag just before I came here, and then everything changed.

I don’t know if it’s something to do with the water, or whether the grains here are just extra stubborn, but what worked back home did NOT work on Spanish rice. This method also worked perfectly in India. So I guess it’s rice in Ireland or the water there that’s the issue.

I generally make up a large batch of rice, 4 cups (there are five people in our house…), and put it in a container in the fridge to be reheated for different meals during the week, rather than going to the trouble of making it each time I need it.

There are a few factors that are important when it comes to cooking perfect basmati rice:

  • Rinse your rice – I normally rinse my rice at least four times, swishing my hand around the grains each time to get as much of the starch out as possible. It’s the starch that makes your rice gluey so you want as little as possible left. When the water is clear instead of cloudy, you’ve removed most of the starch.
  • The ratio of water – I generally allow 1.25 cups of water for every cup of basmati rice. If I’m cooking regular long-grain then 1-to-1 is just fine.
  • Steam, don’t boil – Mix your water into your rinsed rice with a generous pinch of salt, put on a tightly fitting lid, and bring to the boil. When it has just started boiling, put the temperature down to the lowest possible (for example I lower it to number one on the induction plate) and leave for 15 minutes WITHOUT PEEKING. Lifting the lid will result in lost steam and the water-rice ratio will be off. After fifteen minutes, take the pot off the heat and leave it aside for a further five minutes.
a spoonful of chickpea curry with plates of rice, curry, and chickpeas in the background.

And that’s it, take off the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Serve it with the yummy chickpea spinach curry, which should be done at around the same time, and try to resist eating it all at once! (I dare you…)


If you do end up making this recipe, please leave a star rating in the recipe card and a review, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @the_fiery_vegetarian, I love seeing what you guys get up to!

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Yield: 6

Chickpea Spinach Curry (Chana Palak Masala)

Chickpea Spinach Curry (Chana Palak Masala)

Tired of paying a fortune for takeaways, or just fancy something healthier? Try this tasty healthy chickpea spinach curry, with a tomato and onion spiced gravy and a touch of coconut milk for richness.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp sunflower or canola oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander, cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or chili flakes
  • 1 tin crushed or pureed tomatoes, about 390 g
  • 1 large jar or tin chickpeas, 560 g drained (400 g)
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • 100 gm chopped spinach, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, cilantro
  • Juice of half a small lemon
  • 100 ml full fat coconut milk or coconut cream

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high setting. Sauté the finely chopped onion until golden.
  2. Add the crushed garlic and grated ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic doesn't smell raw anymore.
  3. Mix in the next four ingredients (ground coriander, turmeric, cumin and cayenne) and toast for two minutes stirring often.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high and once boiling, lower to medium-low to maintain at a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  5. Add 1/2 tsp salt, the sugar and the spinach and if the spinach is frozen increase the heat until the curry is bubbling away again. Simmer for an additional five minutes.
  6. Add the garam masala, chopped coriander, lemon juice and coconut milk or cream and stir. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per ServingCalories 417 Total Fat 20g Saturated Fat 6g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 11g Cholesterol 17mg Sodium 669mg Carbohydrates 47g Fiber 10g Sugar 16g Protein 17g
A pin image of chickpea curry rice and naan bread


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