Chickpea Spinach Curry - quick, easy, gluten-free, nutritious and vegan curry made with minimal warm Indian spices in tomato-onion gravy. This delicious classic Indian curry gets ready in less than 20 minutes and makes a great wholesome midweek meal. Chana Palak goes well with rice or any flatbread.
This Indian chickpea curry popularly called chana palak or chana saag is one of the most common Indian recipes made in many households. Perhaps it is a versatile dish that goes well with rice and any flatbread such as chapati, paratha, naan, kulcha.
Although there are many versions available and each household has its own way of making it, here I am sharing my simple version made with basic spices.
This is the best Indian food that can be doubled or tripled to feed the crowd or stored in the freezer to use on busy weeknights to save your cooking time.
Divide the curry into desired portions and store in freezer friendly container in the freezer. Thaw each portion in the fridge, the night before you plan to have it for meals. It is a great recipe to meal prep as a part of a weekly meal plan.
Substitutions and Variations
Coconut milk adds a creamy texture and imparts a lovely flavour. It also helps to thicken the curry. Stir in at the end just before you switch the flame off.
You may add paprika to impart a bright red colour to make curry look appealing.
Garam masala adds a lovely flavour.
Tomato puree or passata could be used instead of fresh tomatoes.
Switch flavours by substituting spinach with other leafy greens such as mustard greens or fenugreek leaves.
Vegetable stock could be used for extra flavour. Either use it instead of a cup of water or substitute half a cup of water with stock.
Freshly chopped spinach can be substituted with frozen or pureed spinach.
Instead of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric you could use mild curry powder or curry paste if you have it on hand. Adjust chilli powder accordingly.
How to Serve Spinach Chickpea Curry
This Indian chickpea curry with spinach paired with plain basmati rice or brown rice, kosambari and papad makes a perfect weeknight meal for the whole family.
Chana Palak makes a great curry on thali (elaborate meals) - serve it with jeera rice, roti, dal, rasam, aloo gobi, thokku, salad, papad and pickle.
On lazy days or on weekdays when you are short of time, serve this vegan chickpea curry with spinach with roti or chapati or any flatbread and a simple salad to make it a hearty vegetarian meal.
This chana palak masala is a great way to make kids eat healthy meals. Serve it with a small glass of mango lassi or lemonade to compensate for the spiciness just in case.
More Weeknight Curry Recipes
Vegetables: onion, ginger, garlic, tomato, coriander. I have used fresh tomatoes, but you can substitute it with canned chopped tomatoes or puree or passata. Do not use passata that contain basil.
Spices and Seasoning: cumin seeds, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder/cayenne pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander.
Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean): I have used canned chickpeas. You can use dry chickpeas as well but it is time taking process. Soak it overnight and cook until soft and tender. The best option is to prep ahead and store boiled chickpeas in the fridge/freezer so you can save time on busy weekdays.
Spinach: I have used fresh chopped spinach. Frozen or pureed spinach works well in this recipe. In fact frozen spinach saves a lot of prep time as well.
Liquids: I use water and olive oil, feel free to use other cooking oil such as vegetable oil, sunflower oil or any neutral oil.
Lime Juice (optional): It enhances the flavour of the dish. You can reduce the quantity or skip it if you feel the citrus flavour could be too strong for the dish.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or a large pan. Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and let it sizzle for few seconds.
2. Add onion, finely chopped garlic, ginger, saute for 3-4 minutes or until onion turns soft and translucent.
3. Reduce the flame to the lower heat, add dry spices - turmeric, chilli powder/cayenne pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander. Stir in quickly to avoid burning the spices. Cook for a minute until the raw aroma of spices vanishes.
4. Now stir in tomatoes, salt, chopped spinach. Slightly increase the flame, stir well and cook for 5 minutes until tomatoes are mushy and soft.
5. Add boiled chickpea, water, stir until well combined. Close the pan with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. After 5 minutes, switch off the flame and take the lid off the pan. Taste the chan palak and add salt if required. Finally, add coriander, lime juice and mix well.
Serve piping hot chickpea and spinach curry with rice or any flatbread.
Tips and Tricks
Fresh tomatoes can be substituted with canned tomatoes or passata.
Add lime juice at the end after you turn the flame off.
Canned chickpea can be swapped with freshly boiled chickpea. However, it is a time-consuming process to prep it. Pre-planning is necessary as you have to soak dried chickpea overnight or at least 6-7 hours and then cook it in a pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles or slow cook on stovetop until it turns soft and holds its shape but not mushy. Although you can cook it without soaking, I wouldn't suggest that method as pre-soaking helps to make chickpea more digestible.
More Chickpea Recipes
Butternut Squash Chickpea Curry
How to cook chana saag in an instant pot?
Plug in an instant pot and press the saute button.
Add oil, once the display flashes HOT, fry cumin for half a minute or until aromatic.
Now add onion, ginger and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes or until onion turn translucent. Stir regularly to prevent vegetables from sticking to the base of the pot.
Add spices and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Now stir in tomatoes, salt and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften.
Finally add chickpeas, water and stir well.
Deglaze the pot well and then close it with a lid.
Move the steam release valve to the sealing position.
Press Pressure cook/manual mode.
Set the timer to 0 minute at high pressure (this is for canned chickpeas).
Once the timer countdown goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then move the steam release valve to the vent position to remove the remaining pressure manually.
Once the little knob located next to the steam release valve drops, open the lid.
Add the spinach and stir well.
Delicious chana palak curry paired with plain rice or cumin rice makes a comforting meal.
Hint: For overnight soaked chickpeas set the timer to 15 minutes. For unsoaked chickpeas set the timer to 50 minutes.
For canned chickpeas, 0 minutes pressure cook is set wherein the instant pot builds the pressure and shuts off. This is sufficient for already cooked and tender chickpeas to incorporate well and absorb the flavours of warming spices. It is also essential to get the right consistency of the curry.
📖 Recipe Card
Chickpea Spinach Curry
1 Cup =250ml ; 1 Tablespoon =15ml ; 1 Teaspoon =5ml
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin seeds
- ¼ cup (or) 62 gms (or) 1 small size Onion chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger finely chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic finely chopped
- ⅕ cups (or) 300 gms (or) 3 medium size Tomato chopped
- 2.5 cups (or) 120 gms Fresh Spinach chopped
- 240 gms Chickpea canned
- ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric
- ½ Teaspoon Chilli Powder / Cayenne Pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin/Cumin Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Coriander/Coriander Powder
- Salt as required
- from ½ lime (or) 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice adjust to suit your taste
- Coriander leaves handful
- ¾ Cup Water
- Drain the liquid and wash canned chickpea few times under tap water and keep them aside.240 gms Chickpea
- Heat oil over medium-low flame. Once the oil is hot, put cumin and let it sizzle for few a seconds.1 Tablespoon Oil, ½ Teaspoon Cumin seeds
- Add onion, finely chopped garlic, ginger, saute for 3-4 minutes or until onion turns soft and translucent.¼ cup (or) 62 gms (or) 1 small size Onion, 1 Teaspoon Garlic, 1 Teaspoon Ginger
- Reduce the flame to the lowest setting, add dry spices - turmeric, chilli powder/cayenne pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander. Stir in quickly to avoid burning the spices. Cook for a minute until the raw aroma of spices vanishes.¼ Teaspoon Turmeric, ½ Teaspoon Chilli Powder / Cayenne Pepper, ½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin/Cumin Powder, ½ Teaspoon Ground Coriander/Coriander Powder
- Now stir in tomatoes, salt, chopped spinach. Slightly increase the flame, stir well and cook for 5 minutes until tomatoes are mushy and soft.⅕ cups (or) 300 gms (or) 3 medium size Tomato, Salt, 2.5 cups (or) 120 gms Fresh Spinach
- Add boiled chickpea, water, stir until well combined. Close the pan with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.240 gms Chickpea, ¾ Cup Water
- After 5 minutes, switch off the flame and take the lid off the pan. Taste the curry and add salt if required. Finally, add coriander, lime juice and mix well.Coriander leaves, from ½ lime (or) 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
- Serve healthy and nutritious chickpea spinach curry with rice or flatbread of your choice.
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