Like rajmah, this dish is a staple in virtually every North Indian home—and for a good reason. It’s delicious and filling. It’s also a great non-meat protein alternative for many Indians-vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The key to making this dish authentic is to include a hint of tartness. The spice blend, chana masala, is critical because in addition to the basic spices, it also incorporates mango and pomegranate powders for a slightly sour taste. This slightly soupy dish is a perfect comfort food after a long day at work.
Slow cooker size: 5-quart
To make this dish in a 3½-quart slow cooker, halve all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe. A half recipe makes 6 cups (1.42 L).
Can these Recipes be made on the stovetop?
Absolutely. Just keep in mind that when cooking on the stove, you’ll use a quarter more water because liquids evaporate. So, if a slow cooker recipe requires 4 cups of water, use 5 cups when making it on the stovetop. Also, though you can keep your pot at a low simmer on the stovetop, you still always want to keep an eye on it to prevent drying and burning. If food-especially beans and other legumes-starts to dry out, just add more water and continue to cook.
The rule in the land of slow cookers is usually never to open the lid while cooking for fear of losing critical heat and slowing down the cooking process. This may be true, but I have a tough time following the rules myself. Also, there are some dishes, such as Curried Spinach with Homemade Cheese (Palak Paneer), that need to be stirred during cooking. Know that the cooking times cited in my recipes reflect my inability to keep the lid shut, so to speak. Just do your best to limit peeking. A good rule-of-thumb is to add about 5 minutes of cooking time for every time you lift the lid.
Who would have thought that chickpeas could be so varied and interesting? Most of us are used to the chickpea that is used most commonly around the world: the yellow chickpea, chickpea, or Bengal gram. In Hindi, it’s called kabuli chana, and it’s used in dishes that have a lot of gravy and dishes where the beans are cooked until soft, but with little gravy.
A lesser-known variety of the traditional chickpea is the black chickpea, or kala chana. As its name suggests, this bean looks like a chickpea, but it’s about half the size and blackish brown. It’s extremely high in protein and needs to be cooked longer than its white counterpart. Even after cooking, though, keep in mind that this bean is a tough little cookie. It will never be as soft or break down as much as other beans and lentils. But don’t worry-it’s still delicious.
This spice mix is one of the most common in North India. It includes coriander, cumin, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You can purchase the spices already ground or buy a packet of all of the above combined but left whole for you to grind later. If you grind them yourself, remember to balance the amount of each spice used. And be careful, as the whole cinnamon can be a little challenging to grind all the way down. Don’t be intimidated to go this route though-I’ve done it and the results are wonderful. In most dishes, the garam masala is sprinkled over the food toward the end of cooking, but I prefer to put it in at the beginning along with the other spices.
This spice blend, found at any Indian grocer, has a unique tartness that is essential to my curried chickpea dish. Pomegranate, fenugreek, mustard, and coriander seeds are just a few of the key ingredients.
13 cups (3.08 L)
Cooking Time14 min
Cooking Time - Text840
Cooking Methodslow cooking
Total Timea day or more
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Taste and Texturehot & spicy, savory, spiced, tart
- 3 cups (603 g) dried chickpeas (see Notes), cleaned and washed thoroughly
- 1 medium yellow or red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 (2-inch [5 cm]) piece ginger, peeled and chopped or grated
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, minced, or grated
- 4-6 green Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, chopped
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) garam masala (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chana masala (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) red chile powder
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) turmeric powder
- 12 cups (2.84 L) water
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh cilantro, chopped
- Thinly sliced red onion, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for garnish
Put the chickpeas, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, green chiles, cumin, coriander, garam masala, chana masala, red chile powder, salt, turmeric, and water in the slow cooker.
Cook on high for 14 hours. Toward the end of cooking time, use the back of a large spoon to mash some of the beans against the walls of the slow cooker or pulse 2 or 3 times with an immersion blender. Add the cilantro.
To serve, sprinkle sliced onions on top and eat with a lime wedge on the side accompanied by roti or naan, or in a bowl over basmati or brown rice.
Try This! Toast a hamburger bun. Place a slice of cheese (any kind) on each half of the bun and heap on a spoonful of chana and fresh, diced onions. It’s a fast and healthy veggie alternative to the open-faced sandwich. My kids love this as a snack. For them, I like to use mini whole-wheat dinner rolls.
2010 Anupy Singla