The Excitable Scientist

Mostly cheerful, sometimes snarky commentary on life science research and its broader impacts

Chana masala April 10, 2016

Filed under: recipes — excitablescientist @ 10:35 pm

I thought it was impossible to screw up chana masala. TIL: this is not true, and also that certain conversations are possibly best left until after dinner.

The last batch I made involved highly overcooked chickpeas (note to self! adding baking soda before pressure cooking them really does work to decrease cooking time! almost too well – you may end up with just chickpea ghosts*), burnt fenugreek seeds that I had mistaken for mustard seeds (wrong!!! and incredibly bitter!), and almost no seasoning. Both my dinner companion and my roommate Maayan were very gracious about what was frankly a terrible dish, but I was embarrassed by my failure at something I thought I could cook in my sleep, and resolved to do better next time. Fast forward to this evening… I thought I would put in a little more effort this time, and I’m pleased with the result!

So here goes:


3 cans chickpeas (or equivalent in cooked), strained and washed
350ml strained tomatoes, or crushed
2 large onions, or 3 medium
2 tsp Vegeta, or 1 tsp salt if you must
2 tsp chana masala spice (I use MDH – it’s easily findable in the Punjabi market in Van)
0.5 tsp pureed garlic
1 tsp pureed ginger
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of actual mustard seeds (I really liked these & will use more next time)
Pinch of coriander seeds
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a small saucepan, heat up a small amount of oil. Drop in mustard and coriander seeds; cook until they pop. Fry onions in a separate, large pot until translucent. Add rest of spices and Vegeta/salt to the onions; cook for a couple of minutes until blended. Transfer cooked coriander and mustard seeds to that pot. Add tomatoes and chickpeas; cook for 10 minutes at low heat. Garnish with cilantro.

* the translucent fibrous husk that envelops a chickpea. Deb Perelman of smitten kitchen makes a compelling argument that they should be removed, one chickpea at a time, to achieve ethereally smooth hummus; I agree with her


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s