When I make curry for the crew I like to make a few different dishes because the vegetarian options always appeal to me while I know the boys love their meat. Having said that, my Chickpea & Spinach Curry appeals to both vegetarians and meat lovers. I’m always surprised how well it goes down with the deck crew but then it is very, very tasty. It takes three days to prepare the way I make it but don’t be put off, it doesn’t mean you’ll be cooking for three days solid. Cooking chickpeas from scratch isn’t difficult, it just means waiting patiently for these nutritious legumes to absorb all the liquid they need to plump up and become delicious.
Day one is soaking the chickpeas in water, the second day is cooking and leaving to infuse over night and the third day is finishing the curry off. I make a big batch of chickpea curry because it is a lengthy process, however it freezes wonderfully which means you’ll have a nice stash in the freezer for a quick and easy meal later on down the line.
(this recipe serves 4 people, I normally make four times as much and freeze it)
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
½ brown onion, finely diced
1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
½ tablespoon ground turmeric
½ tablespoon garam masala
2 green cardamom pods, crushed
½ teaspoon dry chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small clove of garlic, finally chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
125g dried chickpeas
1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin coconut milk
80g fresh baby spinach, washed
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tablespoon mango chutney
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl or Tupperware with plenty of cold water to soak overnight. The chickpeas will double in size so make sure there is enough water and space in the Tupperware to allow them to do so.
Place a large pot on the stove on a high heat and dry roast the whole spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves) and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the whole spices become fragrant. Add the coconut oil and once it has melted add the chopped onions and fry on a high heat until they begin to brown around the edges. This caramelisation will give your curry a nice, deep colour and flavour. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the garlic and ginger, making sure not to burn the garlic as this will make it taste bitter. Add the dry ground spices and season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and return to the stove on a medium heat for a few seconds, stirring continuously to cook the curry paste out.
Next add the dried chickpeas, the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, vegetable stock cube and 800ml cold water (the chickpeas will absorb a lot of the curry sauce so you need to have plenty of liquid in the pot).
Once the curry has come to a boil turn the heat down low, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 2-3 hours. Be sure to stir the curry every now and then to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Alternatively you could transfer the contents of the pot to a casserole and cook in the oven at about 160C for the same length of time.
At this stage I like to cool the curry down, refrigerate and continue cooking the following day. The chickpeas absorb the beautiful spices in the sauce and become much more flavourful this way but you can skip this step and continue with the cooking if you like.
The flowing day continue to cook the chickpea curry, uncovered until the chickpeas are tender. Check the consistency of your sauce, if it is too wet you can reduce the sauce. Stir in the chopped spinach leaves and allow them to wilt for a couple of minutes. Add a tablespoon of mango chutney then check the seasoning for salt and pepper. The mango chutney will sweeten the dish and balance out the spices.
Serve your chickpea curry with my coconut rice for a delicious healthy, vegan lunch or dinner.