Our Chickpea and Spinach Curry is a hearty and creamy one-pot meal that you can make in 30 minutes and the whole family with love. Similar to the classic Chana Saag, with the addition of spinach and coconut milk.
Why you need to try this recipe
- Easy recipe. Using canned chickpeas, canned tomatoes, frozen spinach, and a simple spice mix makes this recipe super simple and quick to follow. You don't need to be an expert in the kitchen to cook this delicious one-pot meal for your crowd.
- Healthy. Yes, this curry doesn't need much oil to cook, and all the ingredients are fresh and good for you. You can leave the coconut milk out, and cook a Chana Masala curry, but we just add a little to make it creamier.
- One-pot meal. Who doesn't like this word? Meals like this curry make your life so much easier. One pot that can feed the whole family and no need to wash lots of dishes after cooking!
- Family-friendly. I can say family-friendly and family-tested. Both our kids loved this hearty meal. We didn't add the green chili when we cooked it for them, and we simply added some spice for us at the end. They really enjoyed this meal.
Our Chickpea and Spinach Curry is:
- Mildly spicy
- Indian-style recipe
- One-pot meal
- Easy to make
How to cook Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Chickpeas. You can use canned chickpeas or tinned chickpeas by simply adding them to the curry or dry chickpeas, soaking them in fresh water overnight, and pressure cooking the chickpeas until tender before adding them to the curry sauce. For this recipe, we use canned chickpeas. We like mashing some of the chickpeas before we add them to the curry to make the consistency of the curry heartier.
Spice blend. One thing we learned in India is to use good quality and fresh spices when cooking. For our Chickpea and Spinach Curry, we use garam masala, bay leaf, cloves (ground or whole), cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, cumin powder, red chili powder, salt, and black pepper. The garam masala contains already most of them but we love adding some more to get a delicious deep-in-flavor sauce. You can use a Chana Masala spice blend that comes already mixed. We recommend using whole spices such as cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, etc, if you have a spice grinder, as they will be more flavourful.
Onion, garlic, ginger, and green chilies. These four ingredients are the start of our Chana Masala base. We start the dish by frying finely chopped onion, garlic, fresh ginger, and green chilis, to create a delicious and rich base for the curry. You can use any type of onion or shallots, garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic, and red chilies or serrano peppers if you prefer instead of green. If you are making this meal for kids as well, you can leave the chilies out.
Tomatoes. We use chopped tomatoes to cook our Spinach and Chickpea curry. Choose a good quality can of tomatoes, as this is the most important ingredient of the dish and will define its taste. You can as well use fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, canned plum tomatoes, or tomato passata. Optionally, you can as well add some tomato purée to give your chickpea curry a richer umami taste.
Frozen spinach. We prefer to use frozen spinach as we always have them at home. You can, of course, use fresh spinach to make this recipe. You can use baby spinach or regular spinach, or use other types of leafy greens such as kale.
Coconut milk. You can find coconut milk or coconut cream in most grocery stores. We recommend using a can of full-fat coconut milk as it will make your curry creamier. You can use light coconut milk if you have dietary restrictions. Other alternatives to coconut milk to add some plant-based cream to the curry are cashew cream, oat cream, or soy cream.
Vegetable stock. We find that adding a little vegetable stock instead of water enhances the flavor of the dish
Coriander. The last touch to your curry is chopped fresh coriander added at the end and some extra right before serving for a beautiful presentation.
- Finely chop the onion, garlic, ginger, green chili. You can use a food processor to finely chop all these ingredients and save some time. Heat some olive oil, another type of vegetable oil, or vegan butter to medium heat using a large pot. Add the ingredients and cook for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften. Stir often making sure the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the spices, stir well, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. If you are using whole spices, you may want to ground them first. Cardamom pots, cloves, and cinnamon sticks can be added whole, simply remove them before serving.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring the pot to a simmer. Leave simmering for about 10-15 minutes so the tomatoes soften and cook well releasing their natural sweetness. You can at this point, add some sweetener such as brown sugar, or another type of sweetener you normally use.
- Incorporate the chickpeas and chopped coriander, and cook for a couple of minutes until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Add the frozen spinach to the curry. If you are using frozen spinach, you don't need to thaw them before adding them to the pot. Stir until they are completely thawed and cooked.
- Pour the coconut milk, stir, and let it simmer for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and the curry will be ready to serve and enjoy!
- Make this easy Chickpea Curry using a pressure cooker. Using a pressure cooker to cook Chickpea curry is a popular and time-saving approach. You will need to soak white chickpeas overnight or for at least 6 hours, adding baking soda to soften them. After soaking and draining the raw chickpeas, you can prepare the base sauce as indicated in the recipe card. Then, we add the soaked chickpeas, and pressure cook for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Once the chickpeas are tender, you can simmer the curry for a few minutes to thicken the gravy.
- Use another plant-based cream. You can use cashew cream like we do for some of our recipes, soy cream, or oat cream.
- Add extra veggies. You can add more vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red pepper, zucchini, broccoli, or cauliflower to make this curry more colorful and nutritious.
- Make it spicier. You can make this recipe spicier by adding more fresh chilies to the curry or chili powder to the spice mix.
- Use a different protein. You can make this curry using Butter beans, lentils, tofu, or another plant-based protein of your choice.
This hearty chickpea curry recipe is normally served as a main dish with steamed basmati rice and chapati or naan bread. We love serving some homemade samosas on the side. Our Chickpea and Spinach Curry is an Indian-style curry, so here are some Indian sides to serve with this one-pot meal.
When it comes to curries, Indian breads are a popular accompaniment. Naan, a soft and fluffy flatbread, pairs perfectly with this rich dish, allowing you to scoop up every last bit of the flavorful sauce. If you prefer a slightly healthier option, roti or chapati, both whole wheat flatbreads, are a great choice.
When it comes to side dishes, rice is a classic way to complement this chickpea curry. Both basmati rice and jeera rice (cumin-flavored rice) enhance the flavors of this aromatic dish. You can use brown rice, or cauliflower rice as a healthier alternative. Our favorite side dish though, is some homemade samosas or fresh samosas that we buy from our local Indian restaurant. You can also serve it with some onion bhaji and vegan raita, a refreshing yogurt-based side dish, which adds a cooling element to balance out the heat from the spices and chilies.
Garnish this spinach creamy vegan curry with some fresh cilantro or coriander. You can as well, add some natural vegan yogurt, coconut milk, or vegan raita to make it creamier.
If you want to add some acidity, you can squeeze some fresh lime juice or lemon juice.
We love adding some chutney before serving, and our favorite choice for this Chickpea and Spinach Curry is the Brinjal Eggplant.
To add an extra crunch to the curry, you can serve it with some Bhel Sev (Indian snacks), finely chopped onions, and green chillis for spicy food lovers. Chop some fresh coriander to garnish the plate.
Store and Reheat
Store any leftovers of this curry in an airtight container to keep the dish fresh. It will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, so you can enjoy it as a meal or two for the next couple of days. Remember that Chickpea Curry is one of those one-pot meal dishes that tastes even better the next day!
If you want to make this dish to freeze, we recommend you leave the spinach and coconut milk out and freeze the curry without these two ingredients. When you want to enjoy the meal, all you need to do is add frozen spinach and coconut milk, which will take you just 5 minutes.
To reheat this meal, simply use a small pot or the microwave.
FAQ and Tips
Is this meal healthy?
Yes, Chickpea and Spinach Curry is a healthy dish. It primarily consists of chickpeas, which are a great source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Furthermore, the various spices used in the recipe, such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander, offer additional health benefits. However, it's important to keep the portion size in mind as consuming large quantities can increase calorie intake, and if you want to use an alternative to coconut milk, you can use soy, cashew, or oat cream.
Can I use dried chickpeas?
Absolutely! To use dried chickpeas or garbanzo beans, soak them in water overnight, and then cook them before adding them to the dish.
Can I use light coconut milk?
Yes. You can make this curry using light coconut milk, but it may need a bit of thickener before serving if the consistency gets too runny compared to using creamy coconut milk. You can add some cornstarch slurry or flour.
Chickpea and Spinach Curry
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 green chilli
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamom pots
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder or small cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 500 g canned chickpeas
- 100 g frozen spinach
- 250 ml coconut milk
- A handful fresh coriander
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely chop the onion, garlic, ginger, and green chili. You can use a food processor to finely chop all these ingredients and save some time.
- Heat some vegetable oil or vegan butter to medium heat using a large pot. Add finely chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and green chili, and cook for a few minutes or until the onion starts to soften. Stir often making sure the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add all spices, stir well, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. You may need to deglaze the pan with some water if the heat is too high.
- Add the canned chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock, deglaze the pan, and bring the pot to a simmer.
- Leave simmering for about 10-15 minutes so the tomatoes soften and cook well releasing their natural sweetness. You can at this point, add some sweetener such as brown sugar, or another type of sweetener you normally use.
- Add the chickpeas, and cook for 5 more minutes until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Add the frozen spinach to the curry. Stir until they are completely thawed and cooked.
- Pour the coconut milk, stir, and let it simmer for 2 more minutes. You can now add the fresh coriander finely chopped.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and your Chickpea Curry will be ready to enjoy.
- Serve with some basmati rice, Indian bread such as naan, chapati, or roti, or Indian sides such as samosas or bhajis.