Indian Spiced Chickpeas

As a starving student, I’m always on the lookout for tasty and healthy lunch snacks for school – meals that are inexpensive to make and that do well as leftovers. I love Indian food, particularly in the summer – it’s flavorful and filling without being heavy or overwhelming, as hot food can be in hot weather. Here’s a chili recipe I developed in an attempt to recreate a favorite dish of mine – spiced, stewed chickpeas. It’s easy to make and hard to mess up, and once you’ve got it simmering, it doesn’t require much attention.

Every time I make this, it’s slightly different. Many substitutions can be made to suit your tastes and to use what you have on hand. I will discuss some variations at the end of this article. Of course, there are many variations I haven’t thought of, and in the spirit of bold experimentation, you should add anything you like. Half the fun of a recipe like this is watching it evolve.

Amounts of all ingredients are to taste unless given.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup peeled tomato, diced (preferably without basil – see ingredients list on the can)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • fresh garlic, sliced thick
  • shallots, diced
  • cumin
  • a good curry powder
  • salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Sautee garlic, onion and salt in olive oil until lightly browned.
  2. Add spices and sautee for a minute or two longer.
  3. Add chicken broth, bay leaves, chopped tomato, and some of the tomato juice.
  4. Simmer until the liquid is ~1/3 reduced.
  5. Add chickpeas; cover and simmer on medium heat for as long as you’ve got to spare. The longer you let it simmer, the better it will be. Just keep an eye on the liquid, and periodically add more so that the chickpeas keep absorbing liquid and become tender.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool at least 5 minutes.
  7. Mix in yogurt, remove bay leaves, and serve.

Stores well in refrigerator; keeps for at least a week. Good reheated or at room temperature.

Variations:

  1. Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make this a completely vegetarian meal.
  2. Sautee ginger with the garlic and shallots in Step 1. If you do this, be sure to cut the ginger into big chunks and notice how many you put in; that way, you can remove them all before serving. Ginger gives a lovely flavor, but most people don’t want to bite into a chunk of it.
  3. If you don’t have shallots, white or yellow onion can be used instead, but do keep in mind that these are generally stronger than shallots, and you may want to use them a bit more sparingly.
  4. Vary your spices to taste. Coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, even a pinch of nutmeg – experiment and see what you like best.
  5. Add the juice of half a lime in Step 3 or while simmering in Step 5.
  6. Add a splash of white wine (dry is preferable) in Step 3 or while simmering in Step 5.
  7. Add spinach 20 minutes before serving, or baby spinach 10 minutes before.
  8. If Greek yogurt is not available, you can use any plain yogurt.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve over basmati rice, bulghur wheat, or cous-cous.
  • Serve in warmed nan or pita bread.
  • Serve with a salad of cucumber, avocado, and/or mango

Bon appetit!