Worker’s Curry – Chana Masala

I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying the high fruit and vegetable prices at the moment but it has given me an re-newed appreciation of the range of veggies we’ve been used to having at our fingertips for so long. In this age of relative scarcity (even frozen vegtables are hard to come by) I’m wasting way less food and there’s something very nice about the virtuous feeling one gets when making do with what is on hand. I miss fresh greens and herbs though – I find it impossible to come at paying $6 for a tiny bunch of coriander. My garden greens got decimated in the long wet, even my parsley got a weird rust blight. I’ve replanted but it will be a while before I have a decent amount of home grown greens to rejoice with. The only the thing that thrived in the months of constant rain was my curry leaf tree so I throw them in everything I can as my herb de jour.

This Chana Masala or worker’s curry from Meera Sodha is perfect frugal food for the times. I had friends over for dinner last week and I amped this chickpea curry up with a beetroot raita and some roasted spiced cauliflower. Beetroot and cauliflower are still pretty good value at the markets. I really elevated it all by making some homemade naan from Recipe Tin Eats. Too easy and so, so good. You can’t argue with homemade flat bread of any kind.

You can use canned chickpeas but if you can pre-plan soak and cook your own dried peas. Chickpeas soaked with a bit of bicarb soda overnight, then cooked with a bay leaf and salt are just so much more tasty and tender. You can cook your chickpeas a few days before and keep them in their broth in the fridge for a few days before making your worker’s curry.

Worker’s curry – Chana Masala

Adapted from Meera Sodha –

  • 200g dried chickpeas or 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda
  • Bay leaf (Optional)
  • 3 cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 green chilli chopped
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons of grape seed oil
  • 2 onions, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 x 400g can of good quality plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teapoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  1. If using dried chickpeas, place in bowl with cold water and teaspoon of bicarb soda. Soak for at least 6 hours. Rinse and place in a pot, cover with water, add bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and discard froth with a spoon. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until chickpeas are tender and cooked. Remove from heat and let sit in broth until ready to use. Chickpeas can be kept in broth in fridge for several days until ready to use. This keeps the chickpeas from drying out.
  2. Pound garlic, ginger, chilli with a pinch of salt in mortar and pestle until a paste.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Throw in curry leaves (if using) and let sizzle. Add onions and cook for 10-15 minutes until onions are golden brown. (This can take a while) When onions are golden brown add garlic/ginger paste and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes)
  4. Add can of tomatoes and crush tomatoes with wooden spoon. Cook for about 15 minutes until it becomes a rich thick sauce.
  5. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, cumin, garam masala, chilli powder, tumeric. Cook for a couple minutes then add drained chickpeas and a bit extra water. Simmer chickpeas for another 10 minutes until sauce is thick and melded with the chickpeas. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. Serve with rice or naan bread and a yogurt raita
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