Spicy Chana Masala

I live in Jackson Heights, Queens, which is home to much of New York City’s best Indian food, including some amazing chickpea curries.  I have been trying to get my version of this dish to taste like the ones that I have in our neighborhood restaurants, without loading on the ghee (which I suspect is at least one of the restaurant secrets).  I recently started adding tamarind concentrate which makes a big difference and adds a necessary depth in flavor to this dish.  When I make this for my kids, I leave out the spice, but when I make it for my husband, I load on the jalapeños.  This goes best with Indian bread such as Naan (usually not vegan) or paratha (often vegan) and yogurt.  You can also serve with Basmati rice.


  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapeños, minced
  • One-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 large tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, or make your own and use about four cups (measured after boiled)
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind concentrate (or lime juice)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala

In a blender, combine garlic, ginger and tomatoes and blend into a paste.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil.  Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is browned, about 7 minutes.  Add jalapeños and cook for a couple minutes minutes. Add cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.  Add tomato puree and simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Add chickpeas, and mash slightly with a potato masher or fork to create a thick gravy.  Add water, 1/2 cup at a time until desired consistency, and simmer another 10 minutes or so.  Add tamarind concentrate or lime, garam masala, season with salt and garnish with cilantro.

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