Make Ahead

Creamy Chickpea Curry

July 17, 2018
19 Ratings
Photo by Jenny Huang
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2 with leftovers; 4 without leftovers
Author Notes

This is my streamlined riff on the chickpea curry at Cassia in Santa Monica. It’s simple to prepare, comforting, and restoring—the type of dinner I like to turn to after a long day.

A few notes:
--the lemongrass and Makrut lime leaves add a lovely flavor and fragrance to the dish, but if you don’t have them, there’s no need to make a special trip to the store. I make the dish with and without them, and it’s wonderful either way.
--for serving, I like to follow Cassia's lead and serve the curry with lots of warm naan bread. Another option is white or brown rice. —EmilyC

What You'll Need
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 2-inch piece of peeled ginger, roughly chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (madras or maharajah curry recommended)
  • 1 medium-sized, ripe tomato, cored and roughly chopped (can substitute 1 cup canned tomatoes)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised with the back of a knife (optional)
  • 5 makrut lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste
  • Brown sugar and/or chile flakes, to taste
  • For serving: chopped cilantro to garnish; warm naan bread
  1. In the bowl of a small food processor or blender, process shallot, ginger, and garlic to a fine paste. Alternating, finely mince and smear everything together with the back of a knife until a paste forms, or use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot paste. Sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. (Turn down the heat if the paste starts to brown or crisp.) Add curry powder and sauté a few minutes longer to deepen its flavor; stir frequently.
  3. In the same bowl of your food processor or blender, process the fresh tomato (or canned) into a purée; you should have 3/4 cup to 1 cup. (Reserve any amount over 1 cup for another use.) Add the tomato purée to the pan and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until starting to reduce and thicken. Add a few pinches of salt.
  4. Add coconut milk, chickpeas, lemongrass and makrut lime leaves (if using), fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons water. Stir to incorporate. Bring the mixture to a low boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. (Don't rush this step; the flavor and texture benefit from this simmering time.) Taste and adjust salt. Add a few pinches of brown sugar, if needed, to balance the tangy sourness of the fish sauce. Add chile flakes if you want more kick.
  5. When ready to serve, remove and discard makrut lime leaves and lemongrass. Garnish with cilantro and serve with warm naan bread.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Miss Carolyn
    Miss Carolyn
  • Eric Cohen
    Eric Cohen
  • EmilyC
  • Jacque

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

14 Reviews

Jacque December 16, 2020
I've made this multiple times (with slight modifications) and it has become my go-to curry recipe. The first time I made it I didn't have a food processor/blender and stopped at a fine mince for the garlic/ginger/shallot, substituted tubed tomato paste and some water for the tomato puree and I thought it turned out great. Have since gotten a food processor but haven't bothered changing the way I make this so don't be afraid of that first step. Recently made it with Desi Chana and added some diced butternut squash to offset the smaller size beans - simmered a bit longer and added a little of the bean cooking water - did not disappoint!
Mittany January 31, 2019
I love this <3 <3 <3- and have made it about 3 times. The only thing I'd quibble with is the time it takes to make it. Really - I'm efficient - but it's more than 30 minutes when accounting for prep-time. (Honestly ... besides simple omelettes, plain rice, pancakes and cold cereal) ... does anything get to the table in 30 minutes?
EmilyC February 1, 2019
Hi Mittany: So glad this is a repeat hit!! I hear ya on prep and cooking time. The 5 minutes of prep seems pretty accurate if using a mini prep for the aromatics, since the rest of the prep is mostly opening cans, but yeah, what's 5 minutes on some nights can sooo easily be 10 on another. Anyways, I'm really glad you like the dish -- thanks for your note! : )
food52fan January 18, 2019
What a tasty recipe! I found this in my email this morning and knew it would make the perfect dinner after a busy day. I followed the recipe with the exception of kaffir lime leaves (didn't have any so I adopted the tip about using a bay leaf) and to keep it vegetarian I used mushroom sauce, which is my go to sub for fish sauce. Thanks for the tip about not throwing in the whole can of tomatoes, I agree that doing so would compromise the rich curry flavor. The thick broth was delicious so I did not add the brown sugar or the chili flakes. Served it with a side of warm garlic naan and have enough left over for tomorrow night's dinner! Thank you for sharing this wonderful, quick & easy recipe!
EmilyC January 19, 2019
I’m so glad you found, tried, and liked this, food52fan! Great tip on the mushroom sauce, too! Thanks so much for your feedback—really appreciate it!
Miss C. September 27, 2018
I had a little trouble making the paste as it didn’t have any liquid in the bender... I think next time I’d use a mortar and pestle. Also I had to add some store bought curry paste. Which was fine.
EmilyC September 27, 2018
Hi Carolyn: I usually use a mini food processor for this recipe, though I’ve made similar pastes before in my blender. But not all blenders are created equal, so I’ll add a note that the paste can be made by chopping and smearing everything together with the back of a knife, or with a mortar and pestle. Thanks for your note.
K.Hebert September 26, 2018
I made this dish for dinner tonight. It was very easy to make, and it was very tasty!!!!!! I will definitely put this dish in our regulars. Will be making it again soon!
EmilyC September 27, 2018
Wonderful—thanks for trying it and your note!
Eric C. September 25, 2018
I happen to have amchur powder, so I used that instead of brown sugar and it worked really well.
EmilyC September 25, 2018
Oh nice—I’ll bet it added a nice tangy note! Thanks for the tip, Eric!
Trisha V. September 24, 2018
Oh and if you can’t find the kaffir lime leaves, I read somewhere that you can use a couple of bay leaves and the zest of a lime to substitute. It used to work for me
EmilyC September 24, 2018
Wow, what a great tip! I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks so much for sharing! So glad you and your husband enjoyed the curry!
Trisha V. September 24, 2018
My husband and I loved this recipe! The only change I made was I added lots of cayenne pepper in the beginning cuz we like it spicy. Definitely a keeper. All I had to buy was fresh cilantro...oh and I finally got to use my kaffir lime leaves I found at Whole Foods a while ago!!