Curried Chickpeas with Cauliflower and Coconut Milk

October  2, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

A combination of two recipes: Thomas Keller's curried cauliflower and chickpea salad, which is served cold, and Julia Turshen's curried lentils, which are served warm.

Notes: If you want to use canned chickpeas, you need 4 cups of drained and rinsed cooked chickpeas. Cauliflower can be cooked ahead of time (step 2) and refrigerated until ready to use.

A drizzle of harissa or chili oil at the end would be nice here.

When reheating, add water to reach desired consistency — the chickpeas will soak up the liquid as they sit. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • soaking and cooking the chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried chickpeas, see notes above if using canned
  • few sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 onion
  • making the curried chickpeas and cauliflower
  • 1 head cauliflower, 2 to 2.5 lbs.
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced to yield about 1 cup
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup raisins, golden are nice
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, optional
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • naan, for serving, optional
  1. Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of salt into a large bowl of water (your largest mixing bowl, or about 4 quarts water). Add the chickpeas and soak for 8 to 24 hours. Drain, and place in a pot with the onion, thyme, and remaining teaspoon of salt. Cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook at the gentlest simmer for about an hour or until the chickpeas are cooked through. Let chickpeas cool in their cooking liquid. Discard thyme sprigs, and onion. Store chickpeas in their cooking liquid. You need 4 cups of cooked chickpeas for the recipe.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the cauliflower: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut out the core of the cauliflower and remove the leaves. Cut the cauliflower into florets about 2-inches in size — they’ll break down further when they cook with the chickpeas. You should have about 6 cups. Add the 1 tablespoon of salt and the cauliflower to the boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Lift out the florets with a slotted spoon, and spread on a tray or plate to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and curry powder and cook, stirring now and then, until the onions are softened and the curry is very fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, then fill the empty can with water and add it to the saucepan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, the cooked cauliflower, 4 cups cooked chickpeas, raisins, and pine nuts, if using. Stir everything together, turn the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let simmer, stirring now and then, for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced, the cauliflower has broken down a bit, and the chickpeas taste flavorful. Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Serve with naan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • erinrae
  • Elizabeth Detrich
    Elizabeth Detrich
  • Cheryl
  • Colleen McKay
    Colleen McKay
  • H James Patterson
    H James Patterson
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

30 Reviews

erinrae November 15, 2017
Great, and easy! Like the previous commenter, I skipped some steps--let the cauliflower simmer for a bit in chicken stock, then added the rest of the ingredients as directed to continue cooking. I also added some cumin and red pepper flakes and a bit of cayenne. Served over brown rice--delicious and hearty without being too heavy!
Kerry G. October 17, 2017
Really good. I took some shortcuts: simmered chopped cauliflower in chicken stock, pan fried onion and curry powder (also added allepo pepper, and cumin), with tsp salt then deglazed with the coconut milk. Added this to cauliflower/stock mix as well as two cans drained chickpeas. I didn't add additional salt as stock already salty. Simmered 29 minutes. I will make again for sure! Thx for the recipe.
food52fan October 12, 2017
Thank you, Alexandra, for this delicious recipe! I just made this for dinner and the aromas lingering in my kitchen are delightful. Happily, I have enough left over for tomorrow. After reading the comments, I did add a teaspoon of cumin, about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, a half cup or so of peas, and cashews instead of pine nuts since they're budget-friendly. Also used regular raisins since golden weren't in stock when I was shopping. I finished with lime juice amd a sprinkling of lime, and served it over cous cous since I forgot to buy naan. I am adding this to my rotation for the ease of preparation and the absolutely wonderful flavors!
Alexandra S. October 14, 2017
All of this sounds so good! So happy to hear this. Thanks for writing in :)
food52fan October 14, 2017
Hi Alexandra, Just realized I should have said I finished it with some lime juice and a sprinkling of cashews, not more lime! Thanks again for a wonderful dish that served two of us for two dinners and a lunch. Yum!!
Elizabeth D. March 20, 2017
I just made this and it's wonderful! I added a few handfuls of chopped kale, dried chili flakes and a good squirt of Sriracha Sauce - very satisfying meal!
Elizabeth D. March 20, 2017
I just made this and it's wonderful! I added a few handfuls of chopped kale, dried chili flakes and a good squirt of Sriracha Sauce - very satisfying meal!
Elizabeth D. March 20, 2017
I just made this and it's wonderful! I added a few handfuls of chopped kale, dried chili flakes and a good squirt of Sriracha Sauce - very satisfying meal!
Hina January 31, 2017
This is such a delicious dish. Made it exactly as provided with canned chickpeas, but added some rough chopped Asian greens and a bit more than 2 teaspoons before simmering. We absolutely loved its ease and heartiness. I really enjoy Alexandra's recipes- thanks so much!
Alexandra S. February 1, 2017
So happy to hear this, Hina! Love the idea of adding greens here. So glad to know the canned chickpeas worked out. Thank you for the kind words, too.
Cheryl January 18, 2017
Really good. Halved the recipe but used full can of coconut milk. Loved the richness of it but also wondering if it would have been better with more vegetable broth, which I substituted for the water. Used canned beans and added frozen peas at the last couple of minutes. Also squeezed lime on top. Feeling it needs just a bit something else, but haven't figured out what--perhaps black pepper and red pepper flakes. Very easy to make. Thank you!
Alexandra S. January 19, 2017
So happy to hear this, Cheryl! Pepper and pepper flakes sounds delicious here. Maybe that will do it or maybe even a squeeze more lime?
meg October 31, 2016
I wasn't expecting to love this so much! I halved the recipe, used canned chickpeas, substituted cashews for pine nuts, and topped with lime as other commenters suggested. Great to pack for lunches.
Alexandra S. January 19, 2017
So happy to hear this, meg!
A.G. October 28, 2016
This is a good recipe, but it needs some tweaking. I added Thai curry (wet from a can) because yellow curry doesn't work as well with coconut milk. I also added juice from 1 lime and some chiffonade kale to brighten up the dish. Served with pine nuts & cilantro on top.
Colleen M. October 24, 2016
I made this tonight and ended up adding a second can of coconut milk and a second can of water after it cooked down. Also added some cumin, a bit of ground ginger and some more salt. the pine nuts pretty much disappeared into it but the extra golden raisins really made the dish. So good!
Alexandra S. October 25, 2016
Nice! Love all the improvising and additions. Thanks for writing in!
H J. October 21, 2016
DELICIOUS! I substituted toasted cashews and a squeeze of lime on the finished product put it over the top!
Alexandra S. October 23, 2016
So happy to hear this! I know, pine nuts right now ... good call on the cashews—that sounds so good! Thanks so much for writing in.
H J. October 21, 2016
I'm making this as I type. I'm at the simmering stage and my apartment smells heavenly! I substituted cashews for the pine nuts (4 BUCKS for barely a 1/4 cup). Otherwise can't wait to try it!
Jessie October 17, 2016
I have fallen in love with curries lately and this recipe only eggs me on. I added some finely chopped kale in, after the onions and before the coconot milk for some green (didn't have parsley). Also added in some help hearts as I'm not big on nuts and this worked very well! Thanks so much for this dinner, I'll be eating it all week! (Single life... 1 recipe, 4 meals).
Jessie October 17, 2016
*hemp hearts, woops lol
Alexandra S. October 21, 2016
Oh, autocorrect!! Though I have to confess, I don't know what hemp hearts are either. How else do you cook with them? Love the idea of kale here!
Laura C. October 12, 2016
I made this tonight and it was delicious! I used canned beans since it was a weeknight (a 29 oz can was perfect), but look forward to trying it with dried. The only thing it needed was a squeeze of lime, and was a healthful and hearty (and easy!) meal!
Alexandra S. October 12, 2016
oooooh—lime sounds so good! Glad to hear this works well with canned beans. Thanks for writing in!
Gal October 9, 2016
For cooking the chickpeas I referred to Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's way which always works great for me (Steps 1 and 2 in their Basic Hummus recipe). They cook the drained chickpeas with 1 teaspoon of baking soda for about three minutes in a medium saucepan over high heat. Then they add the water and bring to a boil. Briefly cooking the soaked chickpeas directly with baking soda scruffs up the skins and allows the chickpeas to cook much faster. Mine were done in exactly 20 minutes. With my drained tender chickpeas cooling on the side I was excited to try Alexandra's recipe. Alexandra gets a 10 in my book. This was a fantastic easy and hearty soup and a beautiful dish to make and serve. No butter, no milk, no heavy cream, no buttermilk, this soup was rich, creamy and thick, and it was healthy! That's why Alexandra gets a 10. I added 1/4 tsp of red chili flakes for a subtle heat,
seasoned to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper at the end and served with sliced crusty bread on the side and it was perfect.
Alexandra S. October 9, 2016
Gal, thanks so much for all of this! I can't believe I still have not tried that method for cooking chickpeas, which I have heard so many genius things about — you are inspiring me! I have been on a big chickpea kick, so I'll report back as soon as I try it. Can't wait.

So happy to hear you liked this one. I was so happy to have leftovers on hand, because I found it irresistible cold, too. Love the idea of the chili flakes — I did love the way mine tasted when drizzled with some chili oil. Thanks for writing in!
Sarita October 5, 2016
I love the basic concept, as expressed by the ingredients, the amount of salt called for throughout seems excessive. What is the purpose of using three tablespoons of salt in the chickpea soaking water?
Alexandra S. October 5, 2016
It's actually a method I learned from Cook's Illustrated. I know the salt seems excessive, but the idea is that you brine the beans, which for whatever reason helps them cook up so nicely. I excerpted the passage from the CI book where I read this here: http://www.alexandracooks.com/2016/01/15/brined-not-soaked-white-beans-with-garlic/ Cook the chickpeas however you like though! I just really like this method.
Sarita October 26, 2016
Thanks for the back story! I'm looking forward to trying this method...