Fake It ‘Til You Make It Chana Masala

29 Aug

If you want to know how about 90% of my meal planning goes, here’s the answer:

“What do I have in my fridge right now?”

When I get off work at 9 pm every day, the last thing I want to do is go straight into a grocery store and try to find some fiddly thing or other, so there’s a basic stock of ingredients I never let myself run out of:

Yellow and/or green onions, red and/or bell peppers, ginger, garlic, tomatoes (usually cherry, because for some reason it’s very difficult to get full sized ones regularly in Seoul at neighborhood grocers), a few cans of chickpeas, a few cans of kidney beans, assorted frozen chicken and beef, eggs, and this really fantastic super-thick cut bacon my nearest store sells–sorry, got a little sidetracked.

As for spices, it’s a bit more eclectic and I frequently end up with stuff that other people have given me upon moving away, but I invariably keep red pepper flakes and salt on hand.  A lot of Indian spices end up on my shelf, besides, which is perfect when I want to make curry. And I frequently do.

Anyway, I did a fridge clean-out this morning, and came up with the above ingredients. (‘But why did you buy a bag of 10 lemons, K?’ you might ask. ‘Because they were on sale‘, I might answer.)  I did a bit of googling to come up with something that would use these, and modified a recipe that I found.

The original recipe, it seems, comes from The Essential Madhur Jaffrey, and the web variation I (in turn) varied from was here. I’ve heard much of this author’s set of books on Indian cuisine, and I may have to get my hands on a copy somehow, and learn how to make things official-like.  In the meantime, I’ll fake it.


2 (15 oz) cans cooked chickpeas, drained
cooking oil (grapeseed or olive; enough to cover the bottom of your cooking pan, and perhaps a glug more)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, finely chopped
2 medium red chili peppers, finely chopped
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 knob ginger, peeled and minced
1 and 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup water (if you cooked the chickpeas, you can use some of the cooking liquid from that)

Start by heating the oil in a large frypan or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cumin, stirring for 2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add the onion and stir occasionally for about 8 minutes, or until golden.

Add the chopped chili peppers, then reduce heat to low.  Add garam masala, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add the tomatoes, cover the pan, and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Take the drained chickpeas and add them to the pan, along with a shake of salt, a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes, the lemon juice, and the extra water or cooking liquid.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you like it!

One Response to “Fake It ‘Til You Make It Chana Masala”

  1. cinch diet recipes at 12:47 pm #

    Awesome! Been looking for this info , thanks for posting, Cinch Diet.

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