Chana Masala in coconut curry

Years ago, when my firstborn was still a toddler, I flew back home to visit my family. One day, my older sister and I decided to go shopping. Now, when we go shopping, it’s more about the food pit stop than the actual shopping experience.

Neither my sister, nor I, like to stroll around in the stores, so after we got our work done (yes, it really is work for us), we decided to grab a burger from our favorite spot. We were just parking outside the restaurant, when our younger sister calls on the phone. She’s made a special dish she says. She doesn’t want to tell us what she’s cooked because it’s a surprise. So she gives us just the initials of her dish –

C M.

My little sister had just started college back then. And she had no real interest in cooking. The girl could design clothes, organize things and babysit like a pro – but cooking? Not really her forte. I reminded my older sister of all this – insisting that we should still order the burger. But, being the kinder person, she thought we had to give CM a chance.

On the ride home, we tried to guess what those initials could stand for. Chicken Manchurian maybe? Cheesy Meat sauce pasta I hoped. Curry Mughlai perhaps? The suspense (and hunger) was killing us.

Lo and behold, when we got home what did we find in store for us? Chana Masala. Surprise! Sigh. I gave up a burger for beans. That was my first thought. To my younger sister’s credit, the chick peas tasted good. And because my mom has taught us all how to make it, it’s now a staple in my home.

We periodically bring this tale up to tease our baby sister, even though she’s grown up to be quite a superb cook. Nothing brings families together like shared memories, and those are always better when some sibling jesting is involved. Go ahead and try this recipe, I hope it’ll help you make some happy memories of your own.

This is how we make it :

1. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a wok. Add one cup of sliced onions and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes, on a medium-low flame.


2. Add two slit green chilies, and one peeled and chopped tomato. Cook for 10 minutes. IMG_20150316_174951122

3. Now push the onion+tomato around to the sides of the pan, making a well in the center, pour in 1 tbsp of oil. IMG_20150316_175217341

4. Into this oil, put in 1/4 tsp mustard seeds. Let it splutter. Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp coriander powder and 6-8 curry leaves. Stir. IMG_20150316_175329101

5. Add one peeled and chopped potato. Stir well. Put in 1/4 cup water and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered on a medium flame.IMG_20150316_175625767

6. Put in two cups canned (or soaked and boiled) chick peas. Add 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil.IMG_20150316_175848197

7. Pour in 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Bring to boil. Lower heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or roti. 




Note : For a potato curry, stop at #5, cover and cook the potatoes through instead.

5 thoughts on “Chana Masala in coconut curry”

    1. WS! For puris mix 2 cups of whole wheat flour with just under a cup of warm water and a 1/4 tsp salt. Knead well, rest for 10-15 minutes. Puri should be rolled out a little thicker than the regular roti, and then deep fry until puffed up and golden brown.

  1. Back in India, I used to make this with the packaged Chole Masala and it was the only way I knew. I don’t get that masala here in KSA and have been struggling to get a consistent taste that we can have with rotis… Trust me I have tried many recipes off the internet and offline sources.. your method looks different and I am going to try this for sure… Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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