Curried Chickpeas or Channa Masala

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I absolutely adore Indian cuisine, and I cook a lot of it. I find, however, that most people seem to find Indian cooking daunting, and I think that is because the ingredient lists in recipes are often so long that you can be inclined to almost automatically give it a pass. It seems easier to get Indian food to take out. In fact, Indian cooking isn't any more difficult than any other cuisine and those long ingredient lists are often spices that give dishes their complex flavours. That in itself can be daunting, I know, because spices are expensive. If you don't cook a lot then it's certainly cheaper to get take away butter chicken than it is to cook it yourself. If you do cook a lot and like Indian food, then it is well worth it to have the spices in your pantry.
I have made other recipes for channa masala, but this one is probably about as easy as they come. The ingredients are pretty limited, and it takes no time at all to pull it together. Don't worry if you don't have asafoetida, you can certainly make this recipe without it. It is a common addition to recipes with beans and lentils because it aids in digestion. I use it all the time now, but I cooked Indian food for years without ever having it on hand.
Serve this addictive dish with some naan to soak up all the sauce. This recipe is from "India's Vegetarian Cooking: A Regional Guide" by Monisha Bharadwaj. I made the mistake of loaning this wonderful book to my vegetarian son, and I had rather a hard time wresting it back from him, he used it so much.

Prep time: 10 minutes  

Total time: 20 minutes  

Yield: 4 servings

Curried Chickpeas


  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Few coriander leaves, chopped
Cooking directions
  1. Mix all the spice powders with about a 4 tablespoons of water and reserve.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the asafoetida. Reduce the heat, stand back and pour in the spice liquid. Let it sizzle for a minute or so and add the salt and the chickpeas.
  3. Pour in about 2/3 of a cup of hot waster and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, curshing a few of the peas with the back of the spoon to thicken the sauce. This should be fairly liquid, but have some consistency. Take off the heat and serve hot, sprinkled with the lemon juice and coriander.