Spicy Chickpeas in a Tomato Coconut Sauce

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
chickpeas and spinach

I'm back from a two-week retreat of sorts and feeling tired but rather refreshed. I managed to get in some kitchen time during my retreat, and after my last extremely cheesy offering I am sharing a cleansing chickpea curry with spinach.

I adore all things legume, but if I could only eat one legume I would have to go with chickpeas. These plump peas are a perfect vehicle for Indian spices, although they shine in any number of dishes, whole or ground up. Whenever I cook up a pot of chickpeas for a dish, I always soak more than I need because I know I will be nibbling on handfuls of the peas before they even make it into the dish.

Chickpeas feature here, simmered in a spicy tomato-based coconut sauce and adorned with handfuls of nourishing and earthy spinach. There is minimal preparation time, and once your beans are cooked it is just a matter of throwing it all together on the stove top. Although it is a refreshing and vibrant dish anytime, it is certainly suited to a busy weeknight meal precisely because it is so easy to put together. You may want to serve it with rice or your favorite Indian flatbread. I choose to cook up a pot of quinoa that I tossed with fresh lemon juice once it was cooked. Tangy, earthy and spicy, this simple curry is now a new favorite and one that I will especially keep in mind when I am pressed for time or don't feel like fussing too long in the kitchen but still want something to tantalize and satisfy the taste buds.

spicy chickpeas and spinach

Spicy Chickpeas in a Tomato Coconut SauceSpicy Chickpeas in a Tomato Coconut Sauce
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on April 2, 2014

Simple, vibrant and delicious chickpea and spinach curry simmered in a flavorful spiced tomato and coconut milk sauce

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 to 35 minutes

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  • 1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (3 1/2 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 to 3 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk, or more as needed
  • 6 oz (175 g) fresh spinach, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak in enough water to cover for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the peas are tender — 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain and set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and stir until the seeds darken a few shades — about 1 minute. Toss in the garlic, ginger and chilies, and continue to stir for another few minutes. Now add the curry powder, ground coriander, ground cumin and cayenne, and stir for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened.

  • Now add the cooked chickpeas and simmer for another 5 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk and gently simmer for another 5 minutes. Add more coconut milk as desired.

  • Add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, until wilted. Once all of the spinach is added, simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes.

  • Stir in the garam masala and salt and black pepper to taste. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve hot alongside hot fresh cooked rice or Indian flatbreads.

  • Notes: I used my own homemade curry powder and garam masala for this dish. I would never go back after making my own blends. Their use really moves this dish up a few levels on the taste chain.

  • If you wish, you can use heavy cream instead of the coconut milk for a creamier sauce. You may need to add more coconut milk or cream depending on your desired consistency.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

spicy chickpeas with spinach served up for dinner

Other chickpeas dishes from Lisa's Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Chana Chaat (Tangy and Tart Chickpea Salad)
Chana Masala
Tamarind Chickpeas
Spicy Chickpeas in a Spicy Tomato Glaze

On the top of the reading stack: Rosehips on the Kitchen Table

Audio Accompaniment: Minilogue


Anonymous said...

Ah yummy - some of my favourite things on a plate!

Joanne said...

I can never say no to chickpeas! I love the coconut tomato sauce you've paired them with...I could probably be pretty happy drinking that alone!

Unknown said...

I don't very often use coconut but find it works so well with chickpeas, against the deep nuttiness x

Judit + Corina @WineDineDaily said...

The coconut sauce sounds divine! It does sound like a flavorful dish. J+C

Anonymous said...

What type of green chiles did you use? Jalepenos? Serranos?

Lisa Turner said...

I used hot green chilies - the skinny ones. You could however use jalapenos, though they are not as hot. Serranos or cayenne peppers would be a good choice for the dish as they pack some heat.