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Chana Masala with Basmati Rice

I recently have been lacking some culinary spark. I feel like I’ve been in a culinary funk. with what I am usually cooking and baking. I sometimes get stuck in a rut cooking the same dishes over and over again.

I’m aware I get caught in this rut out of sheer convenience and comfort. But I really like variety and a challenge. It just takes a little extra time and sometimes, inspiration from a friend.

There are plenty of blogs that I wish I could spend hours reading every day and admiring. The day is too short and I have to visit these blogs when the opportunity arises. One of my favorite blogs is my friend Shulie’s, Food Wanderings. She often cooks Indian dishes I’ve never heard of before. I like to chat with her on twitter and get ideas for new dishes. Her recommendations are always spot on! Shulie has taught me that it can be fun and delicious to experiment with spices. 

We had dinner with our neighbors and I thought I’d surprise them with something vegan that wasn’t Italian. Indian Vegan! I hope it’s close to how it’s originally supposed to be. I know Shulie will let me know if the recipe is off.
See all those pretty spices? That’s what gives this dish it’s layers of exotic flavors. A combination I would normally never fathom adding to one dish. The dish is SPICY with a sour citrus note. I used some ground jalapenos Teresa canned when she was here this spring. I used two teaspoons and maybe should’ve used just one.

I cooked up the chick peas instead of using canned. I also used my canned tomatoes. I just pulled the basil out of it before adding it to the spices. It was wonderful with the basmati rice. I think this would be wonderful to eat with this traditional Indian bread called Roti.

Chana Masala
slightly adapted from The Post Punk Kitchen

Spice blend:

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cardomom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional, and more or less to taste)

For everything else:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced in medium pieces
2 jalapenos, deseeded and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 lbs tomatoes, diced
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two cans, rinsed and drained) note: 2 cups dried will
give you the right amount
1 teaspoon agave
Juice of one lime, or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
basmati rice, cook according to directions


Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, mix together the spice blend in a small bowl.
When the pan is hot, sauté the onion in the coconut oil until nicely browned. While it’s sautéing you can prep the rest of the veggies.

Add the jalapeno, garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cilantro and sauté until wilted. Add the spice blend and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast a bit (about a minute or so).

Add the tomatoes and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
Add salt and pepper, chickpeas and agave. Cover the pan and bring heat up a bit. The tomatoes should take about 10 minutes to breakdown and get saucy. Remove the lid, and cook for about 20 more minutes on low heat, so that the flavors meld and the sauce thickens. It shouldn’t be too thick (like a marinara), but it shouldn’t be watery, either.

You can add a little bit of lime juice. Let sit for 10 minutes or so off the heat before serving. Serve with basmati rice. If you like cilantro, garnish the dish with some.

I'm sharing this dish with Food Wandering's #ricelove bloghop. If you have a rice dish you posted this month, link it up with #ricelove!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have a wonderful beginning of your week. :)


  1. I am in the same culinary funk Lora! I'm glad I'm not the only one. I've been wanting to try something Indian at home lately...but I've been so lazy about it!

    This looks delicious. You are inspiring me....

  2. Oh Missy I love this and so impressed with all your touches or your canned tomatoes and so much more. This is so comforting, quick and delicious. Just awesome!! You could have passed for an Indian cook. lol I doubt you ever lost your culinary spark and if you did you got your groove back!! Welcome to #ricelove & TY for the shoutout love!

  3. Yum! That looks so delicious and so adventurous!

  4. What a wonderful dish to knock you clear out of your cooking funk! You are a much braver and bolder cook than I'll ever be but I so enjoy reading about everything you do.

  5. I would say that you are out of your funk now. That dish sounds delicious. I especially like the spice blend. I need to branch out, too.

  6. It is definitely easy to fall into a culinary funk, but it looks as though this dish brought you out of it! Yum - these are some of my favorite flavors. You're right, Shulie and her blog are certainly inspiring.

  7. Looks tasty, and the spices used are delicious. It is a great way to spice up my next chickpeas. Thanks Lora ;)


  8. I think you did really great job..I am stuck up into cooking same that I need some change for sure. This looks and sounds fantastic Lora..very flavorful with all the spices!

  9. I need to add this to our dinner menu and soon!

  10. I have to admit right off that bat that I am usually afraid of anything with "Masala" in the name... It's not something I'm real comfortable with cooking. That said, I cannot wait to give this a try. I absolutely love chick peas, and the flavors in this recipe sound wonderful. Thanks for helping to get me out of my comfort zone! :)

  11. I love Indian vegan/vegetarian dishes and this looks so good. Lucky neighbors you have there!

  12. Love the flavors in this recipe dear...

  13. thanks for submitting this to the #ricelove bloghop! i love basmati rice and curry!! DELISH!