An easy and lusciously creamy chickpea curry recipe that is packed with flavor, but comes together quickly in one pan with supermarket staples including canned chickpeas and dried spices. You’ll love this for an easy midweek dinner or alongside other curry dishes in a larger Indian style meal. It’s kid friendly and endlessly adaptable, with room for spinach or other veggies to be added as you wish.
Introducing my best family friendly super simple chickpea curry…
So, no big deal, but this curry got both my kids eating chickpeas and it’s legit delicious. This is such a perfect midweek meal, and please allow me to state my case:
- Easy, one pan, minimal ingredients, minimal chopping – all of these important boxes are being ticked.
- Really tasty with a sweet, luscious, creamy curry sauce. So it feels like a treat.
- Endlessly versatile. No chickpeas? Use another bean. Bag of spinach in the fridge? Throw it in! It’s pretty saucy so it can handle having extra stuff added to it.
- Kid friendly! As written, the recipe is very mild in heat but big on the sweet flavors of garam masala which my kids enjoy. The sauce is smooth and creamy and I did not add any whole spices, only ground. Which also means…
- Pantry friendly! You don’t need an extensive spice collection. Just turmeric, chili powder and/or smoked paprika, ground cumin and garam masala. (With an option to just use curry powder if you prefer.) I do usually love to use whole spices, and I tried this recipe both ways, but this simpler version was really just as good without the seeds.
Top Tips for a perfect chickpea curry
Just a few things you should know…
- This meal can come together with no chopping whatsoever if you use frozen diced onion, ginger and garlic.
- Garam masala is the biggest flavor source in this curry, and it ends up with a really nice sweet taste, which we balance with some cumin and turmeric. If you don’t have all of these ingredients, you could simply replace these three spices for a curry powder blend of your choice (you would use 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of curry powder). Ideally a sweeter curry powder blend, but as long as you like the one you choose you can’t go too wrong.
- Let’s talk onions because you have some choices here. I use a whole diced medium onion and there’s lots of onion bits in the sauce. You can use half an onion if you don’t want that (this is what I do if I’m making it for my daughter who has a low onion threshold). You can also finely slice and slightly caramelise your onion, which is nice too, if you’re happy to have longer strands of caramelised onion going on in the curry. It just adds another 15-20 minutes to the process.
- We use passata in this recipe which is called tomato puree in the US. You could replace this with canned diced tomatoes, but the texture would no longer be super smooth, so it depends how important that is to you.
- Make this vegan by using coconut or oat cream instead of dairy cream.
- I suggest chopped cilantro (fresh coriander) and lemon wedges for serving, which are a great way to brighten up your plate, but if you’re coming to this recipe because you lack fresh ingredients and were promised a pantry friendly recipe, please know that it’s fine without them!
- Alternative garnish ideas would be crispy fried onions or toasted cashews for crunch.
Additions to the Recipe
With one can of chickpeas in this recipe, it’s left saucy enough that there’s room for more to be added without the ratios going awry. So dig around in your fridge and freezer if you wish. Some ideas:
- Add spinach! Either mix in a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach just before serving, or add some thawed and drained frozen spinach alongside the passata.
- Add any other veggies you like. Throwing in some frozen veggies alongside the chickpeas makes sense. Peas, broccoli, or a simple veggie mix.
- Paneer or halloumi cheese, cubed and pan fried, will never not be welcome in my vegetarian curries.
Pair me with…
Creamy Chickpea Curry
- 14 oz (400 g) canned chickpeas, drained
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp mild chili powder, smoked paprika or a mix of both
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 6 tbsp passata, aka tomato puree in the US
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy (double) cream
- 1 handful cilantro (fresh coriander), optional, for serving
- 4 lemon wedges, optional, for serving
- In a large, deep saucepan or saute pan, heat a little butter or oil and saute the onions over a medium heat until soft and starting to brown at the edges.1 medium onion
- Add the garlic and ginger, saute for another minute until soft and fragrant.1 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp garlic
- Add the spices and a little extra oil or butter if the pan feels dry. Stir through until the spices are all well mixed into the onion and fragrant – this shouldn't be more than a minute, as we don't want the spices to burn.1/2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp mild chili powder, smoked paprika or a mix of both
- Add the passata and sugar. Over a low heat, saute this mixture for 3-4 minutes allowing the passata to mix with all of the spices. It should thicken up a little and turn sticky.6 tbsp passata, 2 tsp sugar
- Whisk in the vegetable broth and keep this over a medium-high heat until the mixture starts to bubble.1 cup vegetable broth
- Add the cream to the pan and bring the heat down to its lowest setting. Mix through – it will be fairly runny at this point. Add salt and pepper to taste. Depending on how salty your vegetable stock was, you may not need much.1/2 cup heavy (double) cream
- Simmer on a very low heat, partly covered, for about 10 minutes or until it's at the thickness you prefer. Open the lid to stir it every few minutes to prevent sticking, but during this time you can prepare your garnishes, heat your naan breads, and get everything else ready.
- Add the chickpeas to the pan and allow it to simmer for a further 5 minutes.14 oz canned chickpeas
- Serve with a handful of chopped cilantro and a wedge of lemon for squeezing over the top.