Last updated on November 28th, 2022 at 04:22 pm
Grab a pot and get this hearty, family-friendly chickpea spinach curry on the table in around 30-minutes. Serve it with homemade vegan naan and rice for a nourishing and delicious meal.
This post was originally posted on October 27, 2017 and updated February 18 , 2022 with updated images, notes and ingredient substitutions.
Why We Love This Chickpea Spinach Curry
Reader Review. "I’ve been making this recipe on a weekly basis for some time now, so time I wrote a review. This is a family favourite and we eagerly await chickpea curry night. Put it with some flat breads or pappadams and the whole family is happy. Thanks!" (Anton) ★★★★★
This recipe is a great one to have in the back pocket. I often find myself throwing it together mid-week when things start to get a little hectic and my time management skills fail. This curry is:
- Quick - 10 minutes prep + 30 minutes cook time
- A one-pot recipe - less dishes is always a bonus
- Made from easily found ingredients - most of which you'll probably have in your kitchen already
- Kid-friendly! It's not too spicy, so the kids will love it.
- Naturally gluten-free
- A vegan chickpea curry so everyone can enjoy it!
- A good source of iron with chickpeas. Vitamin C - rich tomatoes help with iron absorption
- So easy to make and
Did I mention the walk-away part? A few minutes of stirring and you are good to just walk away while your chana saag does its thing.
What You'll Need
While there are a few spices in this chickpea curry, they are all pretty common - you probably have them in the pantry already. The rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples.
Canned or dried chickpeas. I most often use canned organic chickpeas but if you prefer, you can use dry chickpeas. I've included instructions on how to cook dried chickpeas from scratch below 🙂
Canned or fresh tomatoes. I like to add chopped fresh tomatoes to my vegan curry but I've used canned chopped tomatoes. You can also use regular tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes - you'll need around 3. Either will work although the canned may produce a slightly more acidic taste depending on the brand.
Spinach. So, this curry is Chana Saag. "Saag" in India usually means a mix of greens like spinach, methi (fenugreek), mustard greens, bathua leaves etc. Sometimes it just refers to spinach. You can add pretty much any leafy green you like here but to keep things simple, I'm just using spinach.
Spice Mix. To create a warming bowl packed with balanced flavours we use a mixture of spices. There are a few to be sure, but all of them are available at your supermarket. You'll need turmeric, cumin, garam masala, cinnamon, cardamom and curry powder.
Curry Powder. Use a hot or mild curry powder in this recipe depending how you like your heat. I use Keen's (not a sponsored link) curry powder because it's readily available at the supermarket and is mild enough for my little one to eat.
How to Make Chickpea Spinach Curry - Step By Step Photos
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Steps 1 and 2: Melt oil in a heavy-based pot over medium heat and add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and tomatoes.
Steps 3 and 4: Stir in the spices, ginger, tomato paste and sea salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Steps 5 and 6: Add the chickpeas, coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring the mixture up to a boil.
Steps 7 and 8: Reduce the heat to low and cook with the pot lid off until the sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the baby spinach and allow it to wilt gently. Remove from the heat.
Step 9: You're done. Serve your chickpea curry with rice or quinoa, naan or both. Yum!
How to Cook Chickpeas From Scratch
Want to use dried chickpeas in your vegan chickpea curry? Here's how.
- Wash 2 cups of dried chickpeas and pick out the gnarly brown ones.
- Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water making sure you cover them by several inches to allow for expansion. Add 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth to soak overnight and expand.
- The next day drain and rinse the chickpeas in cold water.
- To cook your soaked beans, place them in a large pot and cover with several inches of water - about 1 litre (approx 1 quart) per cup of soaked beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Add salt if you like - a good amount is around an eighth of a teaspoon for each cup of chickpeas.
- Cook at a simmer for 60-90 minutes until desired tenderness.
- If you don't have time to soak your chickpeas overnight you can quick soak them. Cover the dried beans with cold water by several inches in a large pot. Place the pot over medium to high heat on the stove and bring it up to a boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chickpeas to sit in the hot water for 1 hour.
- Drain the beans before using.
In a hurry? Use these recipe shortcuts to save time and get dinner on the table pronto.
- Use canned chickpeas to reduce the cooking time
- Using a good quality brand of canned chopped or crushed tomatoes will reduce your prep and cooking time.
- Use cornstarch. To thicken your sauce more quickly, cook the curry for 15-minutes. Around this time mix 2 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small cup or bowl. Add the "slurry" to the curry and mix it in really well. Your sauce should thicken up in no time.
What to Serve With Your Chickpea Curry
- Serve your curry with steamed Basmati rice or for a healthier alternative cook a batch of quinoa.
- Try it with some homemade vegan naan
- Simply add a squeeze of lime and a spoon! So good.
Tips To Making the Best Chickpea Spinach Curry
Sautéing the onion with the spices makes a real difference to the finished curry. This is where we begin to layer the flavours. Take the extra minutes to do this.
Fresh is best. you can totally make this curry faster by using canned tomatoes but using fresh ingredients allows you to control the curry's acidity and flavour.
Unless you're in a big hurry (it happens too often, right?), let your curry simmer away for the 30-minutes. You'll get more flavour and better textures.
Play with your food and make it your own. This is one of those dishes that once you've mastered the base recipe, you can make the dish your own.
Add sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin…it’s up to you. Curries are a great way to use up all those vegetables.
Chickpea and Potato Curry. Add peeled, cubed potatoes when you add the chickpeas. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry. Add cubed sweet potato with the chickpeas and cook until the sweet potato is tender.
Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry. Chop half a cauliflower into florets and add them to the curry with the chickpeas. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the cauliflower is tender.
Chickpeas are a great source of fibre which helps make us feel fuller for longer. They are also a good source of protein. Adding spinach to your chickpea curry provides iron while adding tomatoes, which contain Vitamin C, helps our body absorb that iron more easily. While coconut milk is high in fat, you can reduce the amount and simply substitute it with more stock or water.
Totally. I've used a 400 gram (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes in this recipe and it turned out great. The flavour is slightly more acidic but it's hardly noticeable.
The curry will keep well for 3-4 days in a sealed container in a fridge.
Yes. After cooking the curry allow it to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-proof container. Label the container with the name of the curry and the date you made it and store in the freezer safely for up to 3 months.
On its own, you'll get 4 good bowls but it will easily stretch to 6 serves with rice or quinoa.
Spices should be store in airtight containers in cool, dark spaces in the kitchen. Ground spices will keep for up to a year if stored properly while whole spices will keep for up to 3 years.
If you like this chana saag, you might like to check out these quick and easy meals:
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Chickpea Spinach Curry (Chana Saag)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 large onion or 2 regular (optional for a thicker sauce) finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 400 grams cherry tomatoes, halved approx 2 punnets
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 480 grams cooked chickpeas cooked or 2 cans (drained)
- 200 ml coconut milk half a 400ml (14 oz) can
- ¾ cup vegetable stock or water
- 3 cups baby spinach
- chilli flakes or sliced green chillies to serve optional
- Melt the coconut oil in a heavy-based pot over medium heat and add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.
- Add the garlic and tomatoes.
- Stir in the garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger, tomato paste and sea salt. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and stir through to coat. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring the mixture up to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook with the pot lid off for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the baby spinach and allow it to wilt gently.
- Remove the curry from the heat and serve with a smattering of chilli flakes or chillies and cooked rice or quinoa.
- Use canned chickpeas to reduce the cooktime
- Using a good quality brand of canned tomatoes will reduce your prep and cooking time.
- Or you can skip chopped tomatoes and use a tomato passata instead - this will help to thicken your curry quickly without forfeiting flavour.
- To thicken your curry sauce more quickly, cook it for 15-minutes. Around this time mix 2 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add the "slurry" to the curry and mix it in really well. Your sauce should thicken up in no time.