Keep the ingredients for this simple, warming Chickpea Curry on hand (not difficult since most of them—canned tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, and spices—are pantry staples) and you’re never more than 30 minutes from a nutritious, super satisfying vegetarian meal.
“Curry” is a catch-all term for a saucy dish with vegetables and some kind of protein stewed together in a rich, aromatic sauce.
This particular tomato chickpea curry is Indian-inspired; it uses dry spices like curry powder and garam masala to build its royal flush of warm flavor, plus aromatics like garlic and ginger.
(Thai curries by contrast use chili pastes for their heat; see Coconut Curry and Green Curry for examples).
Creamy chickpea curry is not too spicy—coconut milk makes the sauce silky and balances the heat—so if you want a spicy iteration, you can add a pinch or two of additional cayenne.
Serve it with rice (try Turmeric Rice or Instant Pot Brown Rice) or sop it up with fluffy Homemade Naan.
How to Make Chickpea Curry
If this is your first time cooking an Indian dish, you’ll need to pick up two important spice blends: curry powder and garam masala.
The small up-front investment is worth it.
Once you have these two in your pantry, it opens a whole world of wonderful Indian-inspired recipes like Potato Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Paneer Tikka Masala.
- Chickpeas. Rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins, chickpeas are a nutritious addition to a vegetarian dish like this one. They give the curry texture and have a mild nutty flavor.
- Onion. It helps build deep flavor right from the start.
- Spices. Garam masala and curry powder are critical flavor components in this recipe. Both contribute richness and depth of flavor. I also used a dash of cayenne to give the curry a little heat.
- Bay Leaf. Cuts through the richness of the sauce, adding a lightly citrusy and peppery flavor.
- Garlic + Ginger. Essential flavor builders in a curry recipe like this one.
- Crushed Tomatoes. A key component in the curry’s rich coconut tomato sauce. The crushed tomatoes add liquid and flavor.
- Coconut Milk. Full-fat coconut milk is the move here. It adds better flavor and helps create a luscious sauce.
- Frozen Peas. Using frozen peas is my favorite, easy way to incorporate more veggies. No need to thaw them first.
- Lime Juice. Adds a hint of acidity and wakes up all the other flavors.
- Cook the onion in oil with salt and pepper.
- Add the bay leaf, spices, garlic, and ginger.
- Stir in the tomatoes.
- Pour in the chickpeas and coconut milk.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the peas.
- Remove the bay leaf. Serve as desired and garnish with fresh cilantro. DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate curry in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. You can freeze chickpea curry. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. Store each ingredient separately in the refrigerator.
What to Serve with Chickpea Curry
- Dutch Oven. My go-to tool for preparing curries like this one.
- Wooden Spoon. Perfect for stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot.
- Measuring Spoons. You’ll love these double-sided, magnetic measuring spoons.
This easy chickpea curry will make you feel like a pantry wizard.
It’s amazing the dinner magic you can work with simple spices, and a little help from canned tomatoes, coconut milk, and chickpeas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this recipe is vegan as written.
You should drain and rinse canned chickpeas before using them in this recipe. Rinsing them first removes the excess sodium and starch.
With oodles of plant protein and fiber from the chickpeas, nutritious vegetables, and beneficial spices, this chickpea curry is a healthy meal.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil grapeseed oil, or coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons garam masala or an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper reduce to 1/8 teaspoon if sensitive to spice
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger from about a 1-inch piece of ginger
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (15-ounce) cans reduced sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk use regular, not lite
- 10 ounces frozen peas no need to thaw, optional
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice or lemon juice
- Prepared brown rice for serving (see Instant Pot Brown Rice)
- Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
- Homemade naan warmed; optional for serving
- In a large, deep pot such as a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low. Once it’s hot, add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed so that the onions brown but do not burn.
- Stir in the bay leaf, garam masala, curry powder, cayenne, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are ultra fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Pour in the tomatoes and stir, scraping up any bits that stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the chickpeas and coconut milk.
- Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time and scraping a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pot to keep the curry from sticking.
- Add the peas and stir to warm through.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired (I add a pinch or two more of salt). Fish out and discard the bay leaf. Serve hot over prepared rice with a big handful of chopped fresh cilantro, and warm naan.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate curry in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: You can freeze chickpea curry. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Serving: 1 (of 4)Calories: 540kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 18gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.03gPotassium: 1075mgFiber: 15gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 859IUVitamin C: 44mgCalcium: 139mgIron: 9mg