Chickpeas in a Coconut Milk Karhi Sauce


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Chickpeas in a Coconut Milk Karhi Sauce

A treasured dish for many years in my kitchen, I decided to mix things up a bit with a vegan version of this recipe for Tender Chickpeas in Golden Karhi Sauce. Karhi or Kadhi sauce is a creamy gravy with the primary base being chickpea flour to thicken the sauce. Traditionally made with yogurt and buttermilk which results in a slightly sour flavor, the sauce is usually thinner when such savories such as pakoras or kofta are featured, and commonly served with rice and/or Indian flatbreads on the side, such as roti or paratha. I've used chickpeas to fill out the dish in this case, and instead of yogurt and cream, I used coconut milk, and cut down on the amount of liquid used for a slightly thicker sauce. It is not quite as sour, but if you want a slightly more sour taste, then consider adding a scant teaspoon of amchoor power or a few teaspoons of lemon juice near the end of the cooking time. I think I might like this version even better than the original one, but either way, whether you wish to use yogurt or coconut milk, it's a dish that very well might become a staple one in your kitchen too.

Another advantage of this dish is the ease of preparation. With little chopping, it comes together in hardly anytime at all, especially if you skip using dried chickpeas, though with a little planning the night before, I recommend using dried beans, as they are more economical and better for you, as sadly so many canned varieties include salt or other preservatives, and I much prefer adding my own seasonings.

Chickpeas in a Coconut Milk Karhi SauceChickpeas in a Coconut Milk Karhi Sauce
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on March 10, 2021

Tender chickpeas simmered in a golden, aromatic and creamy spiced coconut milk gravy — a simple and elegant Indian dish

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours

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Chickpeas:
  • 1 1/14 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 4 green or light crushed black cardamon pods
Karhi sauce:
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
  • 2 1/3 cups (560 mL or 19 oz) coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespooon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh parsley, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
Tempering:
  • 3 to 4 dried whole red chilies
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
Instructions:
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, transfer to a large saucepan, and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamon pods. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the chickpeas are soft and tender. Drain and discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cardamon pods. Set aside.

  • In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the chickpea flour, coconut milk, turmeric, coriander, cumin, asafetida, and curry leaves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continually. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and half the parsley, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, adding a bit of water if the mixture seems too thick. Cover the pan and remove the heat.

  • For the tempering, in a small unoiled saucepan, roast the chilies and cumin seeds over medium-low heat until they darken a few shades. Add the ghee or oil and stir for another few minutes. Pour the tempering into the chickpeas, add the salt, quickly stir, cover, turn off the heat, and let sit for another 5 minutes.

  • Stir in the remaining parsley and serve hot with fresh cooked white rice or your favorite Indian flatbreads.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Other Indian-inspired chickpea dishes to try from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Gujarati Black Chickpea Curry
Spicy Sour Chickpea Masala
Chickpeas Smothered in a Tangy Tomato Gravy
Chickpeas in a Creamy Coconut Tamarind Gravy
Chickpeas in a Coconut Karhi Sauce

Audio Accompaniment: Joachim Spieth - Cahaya Bulan

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