Indian cuisine is one that makes use of a huge range of what are, on the face of it, expensive ingredients. This recipe for Chana Masala, for instance, uses a total of five spices plus a few other fresh ingredients; garlic, ginger and chilli. While the initial outlay for these flavourings may seem quite the investment, shopping carefully could mean that the spices you’ve bought will be enough for perhaps 40 similar dishes. Indian cuisine is probably the most frugal culinary avenue out there!
In Britain, at least, every supermarket has a spice aisle that stocks a fairly comprehensive array of commonly used spices in small jars. This is actually a very expensive way to purchase your spices; 38g of whole cumin will set you back at least 68p (£1.84 per 100g). However, if you visit large supermarkets or, preferably, your local Asian supermarket you can pick up a 400g bag of whole cumin for as little as £1.88 (47p per 100g). Shop carefully, spice buyers. Oh and always buy whole spices to toast and grind yourself, they will retain their flavour and stay fresh for longer.
Being so simple and frugal, Chana Masala has become one of my favourite curries. However, as you can see from the spice list below it also possesses a great deal of flavour, from the base of cumin and turmeric all the way up to the fragrance of garam masala. The other benefit of Chana Masala is, of course, the short amount of time it takes to prepare. Indeed, you could be enjoying this fantastic curry a mere 20 minutes from now… the clock is ticking.
• 2 red onions, finely sliced
• 3 tbsp vegetable oil, or similar
• 2 tsp whole cumin
• 1 tsp whole coriander seed
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 1 tsp paprika
• 2 dried red chillies, ground
• thumb sized piece of fresh ginger,finely minced
• 1 tin of whole plum tomatoes
• 100ml water
• 2 tins of chickpeas, or equivalent dried and cooked
• 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced
1. Gently fry the sliced onions in the vegetable oil. Meanwhile, toast your whole spices and grind them into a fine powder along with the dried red chillies.
2. Once the onions are translucent tip in the ground whole spices, turmeric, garam masala, paprika and fresh ginger. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavour.
3. Tip in the water and tomatoes, cook for a further 5 minutes. Break the tomatoes down into small pieces before tipping in the chickpeas, garlic and salt. Allow to reduce for 10 minutes over a low heat.
4. Sprinkle with fresh green chillies before serving with rice or flatbreads and mango chutney/pickle.
Cost: As mentioned above, once you’ve purchased all of the spices necessary to make delicious Indian food there is little further investment to be made for quite some time. This is particularly true when making a curry like Chana Masala because chickpeas are incredibly cheap compared to meat or even paneer. As such, this recipe should set you back no more than £1.50.
42 replies on “Chana Masala”
Beautiful – I think it’s my favourite curry! I should make it more often and your version is lovely.
It’s definitely up there for me – it’s very frugal!
One of my favourite curries too….NOM!
Lots of people say the same 🙂
Looks very tasty! Beautiful photos 🙂
Thank you very much!
Indian food is one of my favorites to throw together on a moments notice… I love the intensity of the spices, and many of the dishes (like this one) are super healthy, too. Your chana masala has my mouth watering!
Great tip about spice buying, also. I typically buy my spices in bulk from a spice shop. It’s cheaper that way, fresher, and I can get the amount I want/need without having to buy a whole jar of something I don’t use very often. Fresh spices make all the difference!
Good to hear other’s buy their spices sensibly too – it just doesn’t make sense to buy them in small quantity!
Quite a lot of people seem to say the same – I didn’t realise it was so popular!
What a great use for chickpeas. It looks delicious, and SO frugal!
Thank you – yes, it’s very frugal indeed!
Haha, I guess that’s the point 😆
Love this! Make it often! But the most important part of the send is the fact of how to buy the spices!!!!!! DO shop around for the best spice merchant around you [and that need not be the best known one] and buy in bulk and use ‘in bulk’ 🙂 !
Exactly – bulk is key here!
I am quite fond of Chana Masala and will be trying your recipe in the new year.
Fantastic – I hope you enjoy it when you get around to it.
Oh my gosh, Indian food is one of my FAVORITES!!!!! Especially when chickpeas are involved. 😉
I make a lot of Indian food – it is probably my favourite cuisine.
One of my favorite foods of comfort Nick! You’ve done her proud!! Good on you my friend!
So comforting… Thank you very much 🙂
I love the big (cheap) bags of whole spices you can buy here. Definitely making this soon!
Me too – I’ve got a cupboard full of them. Still haven’t found dried mango powder though.
I’ve never seen dried mango powder, either — though I can’t say I’ve actively looked for it. What would you use it for?
You just use it in recipes like this for a bit of added flavour.
Cool. I tried this recipe last week and it turned out really well — I added cauliflower, which worked well with the chickpeas.
I’d say that sounds delicious, but I hate cauliflower 😀
Really?! You are missing out — or not, if you really hate it.
I really do 😀 – my apologies!
Mmm, this looks goooood! Btw, you may already know, but often mango powder is labelled as amchoor, perhaps your local asian supermarket does sell it after all 😉
I do indeed and it doesn’t stock it for some reason 🙁 – thanks though!
OMG! It looks YUMMY! I have to try it out! Thankfully, my hubby doesn’t like Indian food, I’ll have seconds! BINGO! Haha!
Thank you! He doesn’t like Indian food… weird :D. Lucky you.
Just love things like this, totally delicious and perfect for this blustery weather.
Me too – it’s so windy today!
Oh the flavor you can add to the inexpensive legumes! This looks fantastic!
Exactly – thank you, it was delicious!
I just found your blog via The Little Loaf, intrigued by the name of your blog I came over for a visit. Love the concept of being more frugal, something I am definitely trying to adopt. Great recipe, I buy all my spices from our local Indian supermarket – so much cheaper than the supermarket.
Awesome – good to see you here. Great to hear you’re already savvy about purchasing spices!
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