Cinnamon-spice chickpea curry

  • 3 x 400g tins of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 teaspoons sunflower oil, plus 75ml
  • 15g coriander seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick (7–8cm long)
  • 3–6 dried red chillies
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 6 dried Indian bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 medium cooking onion, chopped or blended to a smooth paste
  • 4cm root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes, finely chopped or blended
  • 1¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon medium red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 handfuls of fresh coriander, finely chopped
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

  1. Place the chickpeas in a large pan with 500 millilitres of warm water and boil for about 5 minutes over a high heat. Remove from the heat and set aside, still in their cooking water.
  2. Heat 4 teaspoons of oil in a small pan for 30 seconds over a low heat, then stir in the coriander seeds, cinnamon, red chillies, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Fry the spices for five minutes or so, until dark brown, stirring continuously so that they don’t burn, then set this garam masala aside to cool.
  3. Heat the remaining 75 millilitres of oil in a large pan for a minute over a medium heat, then add the other teaspoon of cumin seeds and fry until they start to brown. This only takes a minute or two, so be careful not to overcook or burn them. Stir the onion paste into the cumin seeds (watch out, as the oil may spit) and fry until dark brown, stirring regularly to avoid sticking or burning – I usually stir, cover the pan, and leave the mixture to cook for a minute before stirring again, repeating this five or six times until the onion is done.
  4. Crush the ginger using a pestle and mortar (or a blender), to make a fine pulp. Stir the tomatoes into the onions, followed by the ginger, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and sugar, then increase the heat to high. Stir in the chickpeas with their cooking water, along with an additional 300 millilitres of warm water, then cover the pan and leave to simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the chickpeas are cooking, finely grind the cooled roasted spices in a blender or with a pestle and mortar. Add to the chickpea mixture, stir, then remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander, then cover the pan again and leave to rest for around 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Reheat over a medium heat until piping hot, and serve.


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