A 30-minute one-pot vegetarian or vegan chickpea stew with spices, cauliflower, tomato and spinach.
This hearty stew is so tasty and easy to make, full of cauliflower, chickpeas and spinach in a base of canned pureed tomatoes.
Cook this one-dish dinner in less than an hour, anytime you crave the spicy aromas and hunger-satisfying flavors of Indian vegetarian food.
The recipe is easily adaptable for vegans, too — just use coconut oil in place of the ghee and you’re good to go.
Depending on my mood and what’s in the pantry, I play around with making different versions of chickpea masala (or chana masala).
It’s a classic Indian dish of spiced chickpeas that never fails to satisfy.
What is masala
The spice blends known in the Western hemisphere as “curry” powders are the same as masalas.
Indian and Southeast Asian cooking is enhanced by a huge array of herbs, spices and blends — which explains why everyone seems to love eating it.
It’s super convenient to buy pre-blended curry powders, but I also enjoy mixing up my own blends. I highly encourage you to try it!
If you keep a basic assortment of spices in your pantry, you can customize your food to suit your taste. At the same time your cooking will reach another level of flavor.
When I first cooked this dish, I was thinking about how much I enjoy eating a good tangy tikka masala sauce, which typically has a tomato base and rich, creamy texture.
I also threw in a head of cauliflower for an extra boost of vegetables, because who isn’t a fan of the outrageously good combo of chickpeas and cauliflower?!
Now let’s talk about the creaminess factor.
While I usually depend on coconut milk to add a rich mouthfeel to an Indian chickpea curry, I tried something new with this recipe.
Instead of coconut milk, the trick is to use a small amount of basmati or jasmine rice powder to thicken up the stew as it cooks. This technique results in a stew-like texture, rather than a brothy one.
Making rice powder is very simple – you can grind the rice along with the spices in a spice grinder and stir it into the pot after softening onion, garlic and ginger in ghee.
Don’t have a spice grinder? No worries — just stir some rice flour in a small bowl with the ground spices called for in the recipe.
You can also skip it altogether. Simply the cook the stew uncovered after the cauliflower becomes tender, until the stew reaches the consistency you prefer.
Ingredients you need to make cauliflower and chickpea stew
- Chickpeas (canned or home-cooked)
- Ghee, butter, or cold-pressed vegetable oil such as coconut
- Fresh green chili – I recommend serrano or jalapeno for medium-hot heat level.
- Tomato puree and tomato paste
- Spices: Ground cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne
- Basmati rice or rice flour, to thicken the stew
- Fresh spinach
What to serve with chickpea stew
This hearty dish is deliciously nourishing served in bowls, all by itself.
- To dress it up, stir in some whole milk plain yogurt or coconut cream.
- Crumble roasted cashews over the finished dish for some crunch.
- Warm up some naan bread to go alongside, or serve over hot cooked rice. I love it with a batch of Perfect Coconut Rice.
Storing and Freezing chickpea stew
This recipe makes enough stew to serve 4-6 people.
If you have leftovers, keep refrigerated up to 5 days.
For longer storage, portion into freezer containers and freeze 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before heating in a microwave or on the stovetop.
More simple, spiced-up vegetarian recipes:
- Roasted Harissa Cauliflower with Chickpeas
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad
- One Bowl Chorizo Stew with Chickpeas
- Chickpea Pasta Fagioli
Masala Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) long grain white rice, such as basmati or jasmine
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) ground coriander
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) ghee, butter or coconut oil
- 1 (150 g) onion, chopped
- 2 -inch knob ginger, peeled and grated on a rasp grater
- 3 garlic cloves, grated on a rasp grater or in a garlic press
- 1 fresh serrano or green jalapeno chili pepper, chopped
- 1 (675 g) head cauliflower, 1 1/2 pounds, cut into bite-size florets
- 2 15-ounce (850 g) cans chickpeas (or 4 cups cooked chickpeas), drained
- 1 cup (220 g) canned tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) tomato paste
- 4 cups (1 l) vegetable stock or water
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) kosher salt
- 3 ounces (65 g) spinach
Options for serving:
- Plain yogurt and chopped fresh cilantro
Mix the spice blend
- Pulse the rice, paprika, cumin, coriander and cayenne in a spice grinder until the rice is powdered. *see note below
Cook the stew
- Heat the ghee, butter or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chili and cook 2-3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the spice blend until coated in the fat.
- Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, tomato puree, tomato paste, stock or water and salt and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Drop the spinach into the pot and stir until it wilts. Serve warm in bowls, topped with plain yogurt and chopped cilantro, if you like.