Chana Saag – Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

25 Jun

Our chilli plant on the roof terrace has loads of green chillis on it all of a sudden. I’m sure it grows about 5 centimetres overnight. It’s been so hot here  so we have been watering it really well every evening when the sun goes down. It seems to be very happy there.

This is my cue now for putting chilli in everything. Not that I need another excuse. The Washer Up loves anything with chilli in it especially Indian food. Apparently eating chilli cools you down in hot weather too. Like having a cup of tea is supposed to. I don’t know about that but I’m willing to give it a try, this heat is unbearable.

Chana Masala (chickpeas in a spicy sauce) is one my favourite dishes. I always order it, along with Tarka Dal (spiced lentils), and Saag Aloo (potatoes with spinach) when we go out for Indian food. I borrowed this recipe from Dani at Moderate Oven which combines two of my favourite dishes. Chana Saag is spiced chickpeas with spinach. I’d never tried it before and couldn’t wait to debut our homegrown green chillis.

Chana Saag-  Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach Recipe

serves 2-3, adapted from Moderate Oven

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300 gr frozen spinach (not defrosted)
  • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus some leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cardamom pods and cook for a minute until they start to pop, don’t let them burn. Add the onion and cook for around 4 minutes. When the onion begins to soften & brown then add the ginger, garlic & green chillis and cook for another minute.

Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric & cayenne pepper until coating the onions then add the tinned tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring for 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the frozen spinach, stirring the tomatoes around and over it and simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the spinach until completely thawed.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or processor to (carefully) puree the spinach until smooth. Put the pan back on the heat with the spinach and add the rinsed chickpeas to it. Season with salt, pepper & garam masala and simmer, partially covered, for 8 -10 more minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Add boiling water if necessary.

Stir in the chopped coriander, squeeze over some lemon juice and check the seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon on the side.

That reminds me I must go and water the chilli plants, it has been another ridiculously hot day, they must be thirsty!

Things that made me smile today…..

I think it must be baby snail (caracolillos) season. They live on the wild fennel at the side of the road. You see people with buckets picking them off.

It looks like they like artichokes too. If I wasn’t  vegetarian I would make a Snail, Fennel & Artichoke Risotto. But I am, so I won’t. Don’t let me stop you though….

Buen Fin de Semana!

19 Responses to “Chana Saag – Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide June 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Those artichokes look amazing. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’d just eat them alone, give the snails a pass. What a wonderful recipe. Love the photos too.

  2. Dani June 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Beautiful photos! Your version looks nice and red from the extra tomato; I’ll have to try it that way. My chili plants just went into the ground about a month ago, and are still only knee high to a grasshopper. I can’t wait until they’re ready to harvest.

    • foodblogandthedog June 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

      Once they start growing they go mad! Thanks so much for the inspiration! 😀

  3. Maris (In Good Taste) June 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    This looks like something I would enjoy alot! Your garden is growing so well and the pictures are terrific!

  4. Priya Sreeram June 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    lovely pics there and enjoyed the post thoroughly, make somethg similar- your platter looks smashing !

  5. BestOodles June 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Chickpeas huh! I love them, just plain, salad or cook with other ingredients. Great artichokes you have there too!

  6. thefooddoctor June 26, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I ove your plates 🙂 and your pictures are always stunning
    as for the snails..never have never will thank you very much

  7. Medeja June 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Mmm..flavorful chickpeas.. I love such food! Good job! Looks delicious.

  8. Saveur June 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    I love how you can squish in so many veggies into a dish like this! I will have to try this. 🙂

  9. tony ward June 27, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    SNAILS ?????? I find that hard to swallow( if you get the pun ! ). Thats our Monday meal sorted out….I’ll make a LOAD (as per.) and use it as an accompaniment for later in the week….waste not want not….listen to yer father. Like you princess, chick peas and spicy spinach(hate it creamy( are my two faves’. lol xx

  10. tiffany June 28, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    You’ve combined two of my favorite dishes… channa masala and saag paneer! I can only imagine how amazing this was!

  11. Caroline June 28, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    Yum, this looks so delicious! Minus the snails…they really creep me out haha. Gorgeous photos. 🙂

  12. Nami @ Just One Cookbook June 28, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    Hi Natalie! This looks delicious with all kinds of spices that I’m not familiar with. It’s really amazing to see the list of spices. Japanese have a few ingredients and that’s it. The seasonings are very complex and sounds very sophisticated! Looks delicious. It’s interesting how snails are hanging out on an artichoke. Looks like a nice resting plant for snails. 🙂

  13. sarah June 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Both you and Dani always have the best recipes! Chana Masala is one of my favorite dishes so I’m sure this Chana Saag is right up my alley. And your chile’s are gorgeous!

  14. tony ward June 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Was an absolute winner, thanx princess. xx

  15. 4otomo July 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Hi! Thanks for visiting and leaving the lovely comments on my site 🙂 Tried out this recipe, worked out really well, thanks 🙂 ,

  16. dustedoff July 22, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    This is such a coincidence… I was thinking, just the other day, about how much I enjoyed your broccoli and bean recipe, and ended up being reminded of another of my favourite veggie-noodle combinations: chana with spinach and pasta.

    For that, you simply heat a little olive oil, throw in loads of minced garlic and let it soften a bit (ideally, not even turn golden). Add blanched chopped spinach and cooked chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper (I like experimenting, though – so the last time I made this, I also added a bit of dried oregano and some red chilli flakes). Add the water in which the chickpeas were cooked – or, if you’re taking them out of a can and there isn’t much of that, you can add vegetable stock to make a more ‘saucy’ sauce. Toss with cooked pasta such as penne or fusilli. If you do eat cheese, a good sprinkle of parmesan is highly recommended!

    • foodblogandthedog July 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      Thanks so much, I’ve never thopught of using it a s a pasta sauce but it sounds delicous! I made an Indian spaghetti dish once with a walnut, chilli & coriander pesto, why not?!

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