Indian Chickpea Stew

Chef Katie Simmons
Recipe by
Chef Katie Simmons

Did you know that India's Jews come from four distinct groups and can trace their roots there back to ancient times? As in all Jewish communities around the world, Indian Jews translated their culinary tastes and the laws of kashrut to embrace the foods of the region.

In India, religion stipulates the vegetarian diet.  About 80% of the population in India is Hindu, abstaining from meat.  Hence, the focus of most dinner tables is a celebration of vegetables, lentils, and chickpeas. Nothing says Indian cuisine quite like the classic and aromatic chana masala (literally "chickpea spices").

This vegan, gluten- and oil-free version offers healthy, satisfying protein, and a warming, comforting blend of spices, including cumin, ginger, and turmeric. 

Learn more about the history of Indian Jewry and find more Jewish Indian recipes.

1 onion
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic
2-3 small green chilies, minced with seeds (Indian chili or serrano)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika (or Indian red chili powder)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt

Yield: 8 cups

  • In a medium pot, combine the onion and cumin. Cover and cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes, until the onions are soft and the cumin becomes aromatic.  If the onions start to burn, reduce the heat and add a splash of water.
  • While the onions soften, make your spiced paste. In a food chopper, combine the ginger, garlic, green chili, coriander, paprika, and turmeric.  Roughly chop until you get a paste-like consistency.
  • Once the onions are soft, add the spiced paste to the pot. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, until you can smell the ginger and the heat of the green chilies.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Roughly chop the cilantro. Add the drained chickpeas, chopped cilantro, and canned tomatoes to the pot, along with 1/2 cup of water (you might want up to 1 cup for a thinner consistency). Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 10 minutes, until thick.
  • Remove from heat.  Stir in the garam masala and season with salt.
  • Serve immediately.

Chef Katie Simmons' Tips

  • If you can't easily find small green chilies, substitute serrano or jalapeño peppers. Because of their size, the equivalent of three small green chilies is one jalapeño pepper.
  • This recipe is freezer-friendly.

    Classically-trianed Chef Katie Simmons is a personal chef in Chicago. Her journey to cooking has been a winding path from Kentucky to backpacking in New Zealand through culinary school at Kendall College and working for Whole Foods Market.  Her own frustrations of being an overweight fitness professional finally led her to embrace a plant-based, vegan diet.