I knew I'd love this dish just by looking at the ingredients. It has so many fantastic spices with simple chickpeas and tomatoes to soak them all up and provide texture. But I had no idea that it would come together so easily. Though it calls for quite a few spices, some of which aren't regulars in my spice rack, it's a simple and speedy dish to put together.
Once I gathered my ingredients, I spent all of about three minutes making it, with the most time spent waiting 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there for it to simmer and letting the flavors mingle in the saucepan.
Served over steaming rice, the mix of textures in the dish is fantastic, not to mention the complexity of flavors, from ginger to cumin to the garam masala blend. This will be one of those recipes I'll make when I have guests over and I want them to think I'm an accomplished chef with a mastery of spices. They don't have to know it's so easy!
This recipe is adapted from the cookbook "At Home with Madhur Jaffrey."
chickpea masala ingredients

Prep time: 10 minutes 

Cook time: 40 minutes 

Total time: 50 minutes 

Yield: 4-6 servings

Chickpeas Simmered in Masala Sauce


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, drained chickpeas
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, then add in the cumin seeds. Give them a stir and let them toast for about 10 seconds. Add in the onions, stir them and fry until they begin to turn brown at the edges.
  2. Add the ginger, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric and give the spices a quick stir to combine them all with the onion. Then add in the tomatoes, water and salt. Stir to combine everything and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the chickpeas and bring the mixture back up to a boil. Then turn the heat back down to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the garam masala and lemon juice, stir it in, and let it all cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or so.
  4. You can enjoy this dish on its own or serve it over a bed of steamed rice.

chickpeas masala

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Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Chickpeas Simmered in Masala Sauce
This classic Indian favorite is easy to make, and the leftovers are ideal for lunches throughout the week.