Channa Masala – Garbanzo Bean Stew

Channa Masala is a staple at our home.  I usually make a double batch and throw half in the freezer for those days when I am stuck with nothing to feed the family with.  I often add baby spinach or sometimes even frozen spinach to the stew below to make it a one-pot complete meal.  Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off – it’s mostly spices, many of which you can omit/reduce to suit the little taste buds and still end up with something quite delicious.

When Ria was a wee-baby with just a few teeth (I miss those days), I would mash/puree this up with rice and yogurt and feed her “large” amounts.  She still loves channa masala and I think it comes from her “memory” of this being baby food.  Of course these days, it is spicier and saltier than it was back in the day and I think she can handle it because she started young.

Channa Masala (serves 4)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil/ghee or mixture of both

2 medium onions, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated

1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin or cumin seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder (use less or omit for children)

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp fennel powder (optional)

1 tsp garam masala

2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices

2/3 – 1 cup water depending on how “thick” you like the curry to be

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3-4 cups roughly chopped baby spinach (optional)

salt to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper (if using) and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, fennel powder and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and juices.  Season to taste.
  3. Cook for another 5-10 minutes and really fry the masala. (Indian cooking is all about caramelization and cooking the heck out the component parts)
  4. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Check seasoning.
  5. Simmer for another 20-25 minutes, covered on low heat.  During the last 5 minutes of simmering add the baby spinach.

Serve with rice or chappatis (Indian flatbread).  We like to serve this with some raita or plain yoghurt.  Helps cool down the spices for the little ones.