Saturday, August 1, 2015

Easy Indian Chickpea And Spinach Curry

I used to work every evening as a counselor/administrative assistant in a crisis center. Stress eating was the norm there. On busy nights, the staff (myself included) subsisted on vending-machine snacks, greasy pizza and take-out Chinese. We all wondered why our waistlines were ever expanding? Why we felt tired? Why we were never satisfied by what we ate?

I confess that I often brought my carefully-prepared, healthy dinners with me to work. But they sat in the lonely breakroom fridge as I reached for oreos during the busy shifts. High sugar intake is linked to stress. I'm proof of that. I had to stop feeding my stress-sugar addiction. I began by reducing my white sugar intake. Instead, I made treats with maple syrup and honey. I relished a square or two of dark chocolate everyday because I adore it. In the middle of July, I made my Healthy Coconut Milk Hot Cocoa, satisfying my need for something creamy and chocolatey. I munched on fresh and dried fruit. I kept up with walking my beagle by the river because it helps reduce canine and human tension. I read about mindful eating, making a slow and sincere effort to practice it. During the first few weeks I felt like Cookie Monster on a detox plan. I longed for the icing shots sold at the cupcake shop. Give it to me straight, no chaser. After about a month, I no longer craved cookies with the intensity of a thousand suns. The changes were necessary. I'm happier on this path.

I still work per diem at the crisis center. I'm also employed  as a part-time case manager, helping homeless people. I design embroidery patterns. Nothing has changed about the pressure of working in the world, especially the mental health field. However, my views about eating and cooking are much different now. I enter my quiet kitchen to prepare tasty and wholesome meals. I see contemplative cooking as an act of love. I pray before meals, thanking God for the good food. I eat with more mindfulness. When I go to work, I'm fond of my own food, leaving the oreos alone. let's cue the quick chickpea curry recipe...

There's vitality and nourishment in every single bite of this orange-colored-curry. It's summery and bright with creamy coconut milk and ginger. Spinach is stirred in at the end of cooking to retain its vivid green hue. This lively curry is wonderful with warm, whole wheat chapati (pictured above) or fragrant basmati rice (recipe below). It forms a complete vegetarian protein when served with rice. It'll keep you full and satisfied for hours. If you've got mint growing in your summer garden, here's the place to use it. The curry is lovely finished with a sprinkling of it. For dessert, freshly sliced mango with a dollop of my Vanilla Bean Coconut Cream  is a light choice.

If you're new to Indian cooking or you're an old pro, give this recipe a go!  It's just delicious!  

Easy Indian Chickpea And Spinach Curry Recipe

Serves 2-3

Some Notes & Tips:

In this section, I hope to answer to some of your questions regarding the ingredients I use in most of my Indian and Southeast Asian recipes.

I love to use red onion in my curries. An Indian cookbook author recommended it. I listened. White onions are just fine too.  

Tilda is my favorite brand of basmati rice. It's a lovely, fragrant, long grain rice. I find it at my local Indian market or online. You will find a recipe for cooking the rice below the curry recipe.

Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk is a brand found in the Asian section of most supermarket or online.

Bolst's Mild Curry Powder is my favorite brand. Of course, you're free to make your own curry powder by toasting and grinding whole spices. But this brand is very good. I learned about it from an Indian caterer and chef. She secretly told me she used it in her chickpea curries.

A hint of ghee gives this curry a rich flavor. I find ghee at Trader Joe's, my local Indian markets or online. You can also make your own. Butter works great here too. If you're vegan, swap the ghee for your preferred cooking oil. 

I also like to finish my curries with a squeeze of fresh lime. I learned this from an Indian doctor who worked at the crisis center.  

I'm lucky to live in an area just outside of Boston where markets make fresh chapati.  I hope to do a post about homemade chapati in the future. 

I use a microplane zester to grate the peeled ginger and mince the garlic.  


  • 1 16-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained. I use lower sodium.
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 cup of full fat coconut milk plus 1/2 cup, divided
  • 2 teaspoons of ghee or butter. You can also use a vegan cooking oil of your choice.  
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder (see notes for my favorite brand)
  • Salt to taste. I use sea salt.  

To Serve: fresh lime or lemon wedges, chapati, roti, basmati rice (recipe below) fresh mint


In a small pot, saute the onion with the ghee or butter and a pinch of salt until tender. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, curry powder and one cup of the coconut milk. Salt to taste. Bring to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. At the end of cooking, stir in the 1/2 cup of reserved coconut milk and the spinach. Serve with fresh lime wedges or any of the above serving suggestions.  

Basmati Rice Recipe

1 cup of basmati rice
1 1/2 cups of water
Sea salt to taste

To Serve: a bit of ghee or butter (optional)

Rinse one cup (measured with a dry measuring cup) of basmati rice in several changes of  water. I do this in a large bowl or a Japanese rice washer. Rub the rice between your fingers to release the starch. Strain the rice and set aside. Heat 1 1/2 cups of water (measured with a liquid measuring cup) in a pot with a tight fitting lid, add some salt and bring to the boil. Stir in the rinsed and strained rice, bring back to a boil, cover. Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting. Simmer, covered, for 15- 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside in the covered pot for 5-10 minutes. Turn out into a bowl. Fluff with a fork. Stir in a little ghee or butter and serve.    

* Note: If you like your rice a little softer, increase the water to 1 3/4 cup. Also, the taste of just a half tablespoon of ghee stirred into freshly steamed basmati rice cannot be beat. 

Bon Appetit & Blessings!

1 comment:

  1. I came across your blog while looking for some Indian food recipes and liked a lot. How amazing! I will keep an eye on your post.