This tasty chickpea curry, also known as chana masala or chana dal, is popular in northern India where it is often sold by street vendors and eaten with fried bread called bhature. It is also very good served simply over basmati rice as a vegetarian entrée or as an accompaniment to other Indian dishes.
This recipe is an update to one I posted in early November before I bought my Cuisinart electric pressure cooker. The technique I use is similar to the one I used to make pressure cooker cowboy beans. The idea is to use the pressure cooker to partially cook the beans then add flavoring and return to the pressure cooker to finish. In this case I use the simmer function of the pressure cooker for the second step. Total time from dry beans to dinner is under an hour. You could use canned chickpeas. If so, simply skip the first part of the recipe and go easy on the salt. If you do not have a pressure cooker and want to start with dried chickpeas allow for double the cooking time.
- 12 ounces dried chickpeas
- 2 large Indian bay leaves or 4 small Turkish ones
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium onions, about 1 pound
- 1 14.5-ouncs can juice-pack diced tomatoes
- 6 or 7 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- 2 Tbsp. grated ginger or ginger paste
- 2 Tbsp. oil or ghee
- 10 cloves
- 8 green cardamoms
- ½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. or to taste Indian red chili (mirch) powder (or cayenne; do not use Mexican-style chili powder)
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Rinse the chickpeas and put into the pressure cooker along with 6 cups of water. Cook on high (15 psi) for 30 minutes. Release the pressure and open the pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions and drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid.
Chop the garlic in a food processor or blender for a few seconds then add the ½ of the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger and reduce to a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if needed. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan over medium heat. If you use a non-stick pan do not cut down on the oil. It is needed to form the curry base. Fry the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns for about 30 seconds. Add the sliced onion and fry until light golden, about 8 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, cardamoms, and as many of the cloves as you can find. Add the onion-tomato paste to the pan and fry till the oil begins to separate from the paste, another 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle on the coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala powders and fry for 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and darkened somewhat. Do not rush this stage of preparation because getting the base well concentrated is the key to a good curry.
If your pressure cooker has a simmer function, return the chickpeas to it. Otherwise put them into a large pot. Add the curry base and enough of the bean cooking liquid to cover. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. (If using canned chickpeas discard the liquid in the can and use fresh water.) Season with salt to taste.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with Indian breads or rice.