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Chana Saag - Chickpea curry with spinach




Chana Saag is perhaps the most popular Indian dish ever. Everyone knows it and it is on the menu of every Indian restaurant. This recipe of Chana Saag is a creamy, gluten-free and vegan chickpea curry, enhanced with fresh, tender baby spinach. It's a delicious meal that takes 30 minutes to prepare.


I always crave my classic Indian cuisine when I have to go through long workdays and busy weekday evenings. And this recipe from Chana Saag is just the thing when that happens!


It's one of my favorite dishes to order at a restaurant too. It's a complete, plant-based, protein-packed meal that you can get on the table in no time 🙂.


What is Chana Saag?

Chana Saag is a creamy chickpea and spinach curry simmered in a tomato and onion sauce fragrant with warm Indian spices. "Chana" refers to the chickpeas and "saag" is the Hindi name for curried vegetables, in this case spinach.


Easy One-Pot-Meal in 30 Minutes

This is a classic Indian curry that can be found on most restaurant menus and fits easily into almost any dietary style. It is often on the menu at my house for the following reasons:

  • Fiber-rich, nutrient-dense and protein-rich chickpeas make this curry a healthy meal for my family.

  • It's an easy and convenient 30-minute one-pot meal that tastes even better the next day.

  • The addition of baby spinach makes this a complete meal with a generous dose of healthy veggies.

  • It's naturally gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian, making it ideal for parties, potlucks and casual gatherings.


Ingredients for Chana Saag

Although the ingredient list may look long, it's full of staples you probably already have stashed away in your pantry and fridge.


You'll need olive oil, aromatics, whole and ground Indian spices, chickpeas, water, spinach, and lime juice.


Olive oil - I keep it vegan with olive oil. You can also substitute it with ghee.


Chole Masala - Chole Masala is a warm and slightly spicy-tart spice blend. It is readily available in Indian grocery stores or online. It is spicier than Chana Masala powder, so if you use it, add ½ tsp of amchur (dried mango powder). For a good substitute, you can also use 1 tsp Garam Masala + 1 tsp coriander powder + 1 tsp cumin powder + ½ tsp amchur.


Chickpeas - This recipe uses cooked chickpeas. If you are using dried chickpeas, you should first soak and cook ½ cup of dry chickpeas to make the same amount as a 400 g can. If you are using canned, rinse and drain the chickpeas before cooking.


Spinach - This recipe calls for 100 g of chopped baby spinach. Coarsely chop and stir in at the end to get the nice green color.


Serving suggestions

Chana Saag can be served with steamed rice right after preparation. A small portion of cooling Cucumber Raita or Pineapple-Raita and pickled red onions make a nice side dish.


If it's not necessary to make it gluten-free, you can also serve a portion of Chapati or naan. You'll get the plate cleanest with bread, of course 🙂 .


Storage suggestions

The chickpea curry will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To freeze, let cool completely and transfer to a freezer-safe, airtight container. Label, date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.


To reheat, simply simmer on stove over medium heat or microwave individual bowls (covered with a paper towel or microwave cover) in 30-second increments until warmed through.


Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps olive oil

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 200 g red or white onions, finely chopped

  • 2 tsp ginger paste

  • 2 tsp garlic paste

  • 125 g vine tomatoes, pureed or finely chopped

  • ¾ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp coriander powder

  • 1 tbsp Chole Masala (see tips for substitutes)

  • ½ tsp. red Kashmiri chili powder

  • 1 can (about 400 g) cooked chickpeas

  • 1 cup water

  • 100 g baby spinach, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

Instructions

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and bay leaf.

When the cumin sizzles, add chopped onions, ginger paste and garlic paste.

Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions soften.

Then add chopped tomatoes along with the listed spices

Stir and cook for about 2 minutes until tomatoes become mushy.

Mix in cooked chickpeas and water and simmer, covered, on moderately low for 30 minutes.

Simmer and cook until chickpeas are very soft and can be easily mashed.

Using the back of your ladle, mash a few chickpeas on the side of the pot and mix in to make the curry creamy.

Stir in the chopped spinach and simmer for 2-3 minutes until it wilts.

Turn off the heat and add fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well.

Serve Chana Saag with steamed rice and pickled red onions .



Tips

  • Use homemade chickpeas or canned chickpeas. This recipe uses cooked chickpeas, either homemade or canned. If you are cooking with dried chickpeas, you will need to soak and cook ½ cup of dry chickpeas to make the same amount as a 400 g can. If you are using cans, rinse and drain the chickpeas before cooking.

  • If Chole Masala is not available, substitute it with 1 tsp Garam Masala + 1 tsp coriander powder + 1 tsp cumin powder + ½ tsp amchur.

  • Mashing the chickpeas for a creamy consistency. This will release their natural contained starch for a thicker, creamier consistency.

  • Finally, add the spinach. This prevents overcooking and maintains the beautiful green color.




I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.


Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).

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