Saturday 14 February 2015

Chana Palak (Chickpea Curry with Spinach)

I am not a winter person - I was born and raised in the 'burbs of Vancouver then moved to Ontario about 15 years ago.  Still not acclimatized.  Maybe I won't ever get used to it.  So winter for me is spending a lot of time indoors and cooking a lot of "comfort food" - casseroles and such.

Last weekend, I hosted another one of my Indian (well mostly Indian) food buffet for some friends.  As part of the meal, I decided to upgrade last year's chana masala recipe to include spinach as I still had some left from my own garden's harvest - so making it chana palak (palak being spinach).

In addition to the chana palak and various salads (raita, cucumber and tomato, etc.), I served:
  • Pea and Mint Pulao
  • Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Spicy Red Lentils)
  • Aloo Jeera (potatoes with cumin seeds)
  • Tandoori Quail
  • Ginger Prawns
  • Cabbage and Carrots with niter kibbeh (spiced butter)
I also made a Carrot Halwa for dessert, but it didn't turn out so well.  Probably because I was using carrots from the store which I generally find quite bland.  I think I'll try it again with my own carrots (assuming I have a good harvest later this year!).  I ended up dishing out what was left of my homemade rhubarb-strawberry ice cream instead.

I didn't take pictures of the other dishes, but I really want to share the recipes for the pulao dish and the potatoes.  I'm sure I'll make those again soon so I will take pics and post the recipes then.  In the meantime, here is the recipe for the Channa Palak.  It's hard to say how many it feeds - I had 10 people over but 7 other dishes!

2 1/2 onions
8 cloves garlic
2 inch (squared) piece ginger
2 green chiles (all I could find was jalapeno)
Neutral cooking oil
2 tsp cumin seed
1 1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 19-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked spinach
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
2-3 tsp garam masala


Puree the onion, garlic, ginger and chiles.  Set aside.

In a large pan, heat 4 Tbsp of a neutral oil such as canola (not olive oil).  Add the cumin seed.  When the cumin seed starts to "spit", add the onion puree.  Cook 6-8 minutes on medium heat to remove most of the moisture.  Add remaining spices and cook 2-3 minutes.

Add  chickpeas and spinach.  Stir to combine all ingredients well.  Then add tomatoes.  Stir again, then reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.

Add garam masala to taste and adjust salt as required.



  1. I love Indian food - we probably have an Indian meal every couple of weeks or so. The great thing about it, as you clearly showed, is that you get a small portion of a large variety of dishes.

    I find Indian food to be very amenable to freezing, so what I generally do is prepare a large pot of whatever dish it is and then freeze it into meal sized portions. Then I get out one portion of 3 or 4 things, plop them into individual pyrex dishes, cover them with foil & put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes to heat them up while I cook the rice & make some raita. It's the easiest 6 dish weeknight meal ever!

    1. That's a great idea, Margaret! Better than eating the same thing 4 days in a row ... I had a lot of leftovers :)