Easy Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry

This luscious creamy coconut chickpea curry is super easy to make, vegan, tomato-free and comes together in just 35 minutes. It’s easy and perfect for fake-away night or entertaining, guests won’t believe you made it in your kitchen and didn’t get take-out.

A mildly spiced rich toasted base of blended onions, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper completed with Indian spices and tender chickpeas stewed in coconut milk makes this curry one to die for.

WARNING: It is completely addictive (Don’t come back saying you weren’t warned).

A yellow creamy chickpea curry in a bowl with naan bread

This recipe makes 3 servings and it is easy to double up if you want more. I love to serve it with plain basmati rice and garlic naan (my favourite vegan naan recipe is by Nora Cooks, I just brush it with melted spread, garlic and coriander).

Way cheaper than takeaway and a fraction of the price, it’s also healthier and lower in calories – but be warned this is not a low-calorie recipe (it’s worth it though).

If you’re counting calories you can replace half the coconut milk with vegetable stock or water and use low-fat coconut milk.

A bowl of coconut chickpea curry, rice and naan bread on a grey background

There are many different chickpea (chana dishes) in India and this one I made to taste, remembering some of the creamier coconut-based recipes I’d had at restaurants down south.

I also have a crazy-popular recipe for a lighter healthier chana palak masala (chickpea spinach curry, includes recipe for perfect basmati rice) which might be up your alley if you love Indian food, or try:

How to make it

Chickpea curry, naan bread and rice

This easy creamy coconut chickpea curry takes just over half an hour and doesn’t require any special cooking skills apart from attention and a little bit of patience.

In this section, I’ll quickly run over how to make the curry and pop in a few process shots so that if you are unsure about any part of the process you can check your recipe-in-progress against the photos here.

Take one medium or large onion peel and chop roughly into four-six big pieces. Peel four large cloves of garlic and an inch of fresh ginger.

Destem one green chili pepper and process or blend with the onion, garlic and ginger until as smooth as possible. It should resemble the photo below.

Processed onion green chili paste

The chili pepper can be any mild-medium hot type, and can even be red, although that may through the colour off a little.

Next heat two tablespoons of any plain unflavoured oil such as sunflower or canola and add one teaspoon of cumin seeds and a bay leaf (or, if you can get it, a Tej Patta leaf).

When the cumin seeds start to sputter a bit, let them brown little and add a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of ground clove, and about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and let sizzle for about a minute.

(A pinch for me is a little less than 1/8th of a teaspoon)

Your spices should look like the photo below, with the cumin seeds and bay leaf browned but not blackened. Burnt cumin seeds are super bitter so it’s better to aim for a little undercooked than overcooked.

Toasted cumin seeds, bay leaf and spices in oil in a pan

Now add the onion-garlic ginger chili paste, mix well and turn the heat up. You’ll want to cook the paste on fairly high heat for five minutes, stirring often, and a medium heat for the last five minutes.

While the paste is cooking, measure out the next spices to be added (1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cilantro, a pinch of asafoetida) in a little bowl or plate.

The asafoetida is optional but it really does lend a much more authentic taste so if you can get it, I highly recommend it.

This dish is mildly spiced (although it really depends on the chili pepper you use) but if you prefer a medium-spice level, add 1/4 tsp cayenne powder with the turmeric and spices below, or 1/2 tsp for a very hot curry (I don’t recommend this, it’s a bit like Russian roulette with the addition of the earlier chili).

When the paste is done cooking (after ten minutes) add the turmeric, cilantro, and asafoetida and mix well and toast for about a minute. You should have a thickened paste, like the reference photo below.

A golden-brown paste of spices and vegetables in a pan

Now add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and half a teaspoon of salt, and turn the heat up to high again. As I mentioned above, if you’re worried about your waistline you can use lower-fat coconut milk and substitute half with water or vegetable broth.

Either way, at first the chickpea and coconut milk mix will be quite watery, like the photo below.

Chickpeas in golden coconut milk in a pan

Once the coconut milk is bubbling away, turn the heat to medium-high and cook for about 15 minutes. I say about because it depends a little on your cooker, cookware, and personal taste at which point you think the curry is done.

It will definitely be cooked after ten minutes, and the remaining time is to reduce the sauce, so depending on whether you like less or more sauce you can keep it bubbling longer or shorten the time.

Make sure to stir often and reduce the heat if necessary as even if there is quite a bit of coconut milk left to reduce, the chickpeas will still try and stick to the bottom (it’s a mystery to me, never happens with stock or tomato-based curries).

To finish off your delicious coconut chickpea curry, now simply add in half a teaspoon of garam masala, 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar and simmer a minute longer.

Chickpeas in a creamy yellow sauce cooking in a pan

If you’re not as big a fan of lemon juice on everything as I am, you can reduce to 1 tablespoon. If you harbour a deep fear of sweet curries you can reduce the sugar to 1/4 teaspoon but trust me it does really give that restaurant-style flavour.

Now serve with some beautiful basmati, freshly made naan, and try not to inhale it all at once!

This coconut chickpea curry will keep in the fridge for up to four days, although I have no idea how much willpower it would take to be able to resist eating it that long.

creamy chickpea curry, naan bread and rice on a blue cloth with a gold spoon

You are, of course, free to add in any extra ingredients that take your fancy but do we aware of any issues there might be with the liquid ratio – adding in some spinach at the end would be fine but adding in raw potatoes earlier on would absorb more of the liquid faster and may result in undercooked potatoes, for example (parboil or microwave them if you must add them).


Did you make this recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.

Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian), I love seeing all your creations!

Yield: 3 servings

Easy Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry

A bowl of golden chickpea curry and rice on a dark blue cloth

An easy creamy rich mildly spiced coconut curry combining all my best memories of restaurant-style curries from the south end of India and Karnataka, but much healthier and cheaper to make. It's even vegan and tomato-free!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 green chilli pepper, destemmed
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or canola)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf (or Tej Patta)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cilantro
  • 1 pinch asafoteida (optional)
  • 2 cups chickpeas (400g)
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (400ml)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Blitz the ginger, onion, garlic, and chili pepper in a food processor or blender until as smooth as possible (do not add water).
  2. Heat the oil in a pan on medium-high heat and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. When the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the cinnamon, clove, and black pepper and fry one minute.
  3. Add the ginger-onion-garlic-chili paste to the pan and mix well. Fry five minutes high heat and five on low.
  4. Add the turmeric, cilantro, and asafoetida and mix well, fry one minute more.
  5. Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and salt and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until the curry is at your desired consistency.
  6. Add the garam masala, lemon juice, and sugar, mix well, and cook one minute longer.
  7. Serve!

Notes

This is a mildly spiced curry, for a medium-hot curry you can add 1/4 tsp in with the turmeric and cilantro, or 1/2 a tsp for an extremely hot curry.

If you're watching your calories you can swap out half the coconut milk for vegetable stock or water and the full-fat coconut milk for light coconut-milk for an everyday style healthier curry.

Nutrition Information

Yield

3

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 741Total Fat 52gSaturated Fat 30gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 34mgSodium 1076mgCarbohydrates 51gFiber 10gSugar 9gProtein 25g

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