Introduction: Chana Masala
Chana masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes to eat. Back when I lived in Louisville I went to the same Indian buffet all the time with my friends - I went so often than the servers there began to recognize me. If chana masala was missing from the buffet during lunch, they would bring me out some of the chana masala they were making for dinner service. I think I could have eaten there every day if I had enough money!
I've been experimenting with making my own chana masala at home and I think I've finally got it right! It's spicy, sour and sweet and has tons of depth. :D
Step 1: Ingredients:
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR four cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I really like cooking my own chickpeas if I have time!)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1 serrano pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 inches fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon amchur powder (also spelled amchoor!)
- fresh cilantro
The two ingredients I'm very picky about are the amchur powder and the garam masala. Make sure you have good quality garam masala - it should be slightly sweet and very fragrant. The amchur powder can be a little tricky to find, but most Indian groceries will have it, and I'm sure you can buy it online. Amchur powder is sour and fruity, and made from green mangoes.
Step 2: Cut Up the Veggies + Measure Out the Spices
Mince the onion, garlic and serrano pepper. (You can deseed the pepper if it seems to hot!) Roughly chop the tomatoes and set them aside - you'll add them later. Reserve the liquid in the can.
Peel and grate the ginger - you'll want a couple teaspoons of ginger. :)
At this point it's also awesome to measure out all the spices into a small bowl - it'll make everything quicker.
Step 3: Cook the Veggies and Add Spices
Add a couple tablespoons of neutral oil to a pan and heat over medium high heat. Heat the oil until it shimmers, and then add the ginger, garlic, onion and serrano.
Cook this for a few minutes, stirring often, until the onions begin to brown. Make sure to keep stirring so it doesn't burn!
Once the onions begin to brown, add the spices and stir everything around for a couple minutes until everything smells yummy.
Step 4: Add the Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Water
Once the spices and veggies have cooked for a minute, add in the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Add in the reserved tomato juices from the can.
Now pour in the chickpeas and the water and stir.
Step 5: Simmer!
Simmer with the lid on for at least 20 minutes. The longer, the better. The chickpeas take a little while get all flavored up. If the liquid gets low, add more 1/4 cup at a time. I like my chana masala a little less saucy, so I let most of my liquid evaporate.
Use this time to clean up the kitchen you just destroyed, or maybe make some rice. This is good with rice. :D
Step 6: Check Seasoning, Add Cilantro
I normally check for salt at this point. It will probably need a little. You just don't want to go crazy with it before because you never know how salty the chickpeas or tomatoes will be. :)
Once it's properly salted, add some cilantro if you're into that and EAT.