This tasty Chickpea and Spinach Curry is a healthy and comforting vegetarian dish that's packed with protein, fiber, and plenty of flavor. This easy Indian curry is a great way to introduce your family to new flavors and it can be made in 30 minutes!
This Indian Chickpea and Spinach Curry was inspired by my mom who grew up in a vegetarian household. She has always made the most delicious meatless Indian dishes including my personal favorite, Baingan Bharta (Oven Roasted Eggplant).
Now I'm excited to bring you this dish! Also known as Chana Palak Masala, this delicious Chickpea and Spinach Curry is definitely one of those dishes I turn to when I want a comforting dish that will deliver a taste of home. I even included it in my book, Natural Pregnancy Cookbook.
I simmer tender chickpeas and spinach together in a creamy tomato-onion sauce that's packed with flavor without being too spicy. It’s a great dish to introduce your kids to new flavors. Read my tips on how to prevent picky eaters and spice up your child's palate.
If you’re new to cooking Indian food, this easy chickpea curry is a good one to start with. You can make it in just 30 minutes with many common pantry ingredients.
Not only is this dish delicious, it’s also really good for you! It boasts plenty of plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
So make this dish the next time you’re looking for a wholesome and nourishing vegetarian weeknight meal. And be sure to make a large pot of it. Like many curries, the flavors will intensify overnight in the fridge so it will taste even better the next day!
Why You'll Love This Dish
- Easy- make it in 30 minutes!
- Great dish to introduce your family to new flavors- flavorful but not too spicy
- Budget-friendly- made with inexpensive ingredients and makes enough to feed 6 people!
- Healthy- good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free
- Good source of protein (10 grams of protein per serving!)- serve it with rice and its a complete protein
- Perfect for meal-prep- makes a large batch and stores well in the fridge or freezer
This dish is packed with superfoods!
- Chickpeas are an excellent plant-based source of protein. They’re packed with fiber, protein, and antioxidants as well as several essential vitamins and minerals including iron, folate and potassium.
They’re also versatile, affordable, sustainable, and delicious. Chickpeas and other pulses (like beans and legumes) are a staple of the Mediterranean diet.
- Spinach is an extremely nutrient-rich food! It's packed with several vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. These include carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.
- Herbs and spices- have been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
- Turmeric- an ancient spice long prized for its culinary uses as well as its medicinal properties and is probably best known for giving curry powder its bright yellow color. Turmeric's main active ingredient is curcumin, a substance that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, helping to boost immunity.
- Ginger and garlic- ginger and garlic have antiviral properties. Ginger also helps to ease digestive woes like nausea.
- Cilantro- a good source of vitamins and minerals and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, and antimicrobial properties and may help control blood sugar.
Ingredients for Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Olive oil- I like to use heart-healthy olive oil in my recipes but you can use any neutral oil like vegetable or safflower.
- Onion- I use yellow onion
- Aromatics- ginger and garlic- many Indian dishes start out with a combination of minced ginger and garlic. Fresh ginger and garlic will give a lot more flavor than dried. I like to use a microplane zester grater to grate my ginger and garlic cloves for this dish. You can also find ginger garlic paste at Indian grocery stores or online.
- Dried spices- turmeric powder, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala
- Tomatoes- I use canned crushed tomatoes for convenience; you can also use tomato puree. When I have time, I use diced, fresh tomatoes.
- Canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)- I like to use low sodium chickpeas to control the amount of sodium.
- Baby spinach- I use fresh baby spinach; you can also use frozen chopped spinach.
- Coconut milk- adds creaminess and rich flavor; I like to use full fat rather than light coconut milk so the curry doesn't get watered down. You can use any leftover coconut milk from the can in other recipes like my Curried Coconut Lentil Stuffed Sweet Potato Bowls or Raspberry Coconut Smoothie Bowl.
- Lemon juice- for acidity
- Salt and sugar- to balance out the flavors
- Cilantro- adds fresh, bright flavor to finish the dish
A Note On Spices:
This dish uses turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, coriander, and garam masala. You can use these spices to make many Indian dishes!
- Turmeric provides bright color and earthy flavor
- Kashmiri chili powder is an Indian chili powder with a smoky flavor and mild spice level. You can buy it online. If you can't find it, you can substitute a teaspoon of paprika with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Cumin and coriander- provide warmth and earthy flavor
- Garam masala is an Indian blend of dried spices commonly used in Indian cooking. Most varieties contain a mixture of spices that includes peppercorns, cloves, cumin, coriander, and cardamom. It can be found in grocery stores or you can buy it online. It is often added at the end of cooking to enhance the flavor of a dish.
- If you want to add some more spice to this dish, you can sauté a minced Indian green chili or jalapeño pepper along with the ginger and garlic.
- If you don't have all these spices, you can substitute a store-bought curry powder (which is a blend of spices) for the turmeric, chili powder, cumin and coriander.
Full recipe instructions in the recipe card below.
- Step 1- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion until softened.
- Step 2- Add the ginger and garlic and cook a minute until fragrant.
- Step 3- Add the turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and coriander.
- Step 4- Cook 1-2 minutes to toast the spices until they darken. This helps build flavor.
- Step 5- Add the tomatoes, salt, chickpeas, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine. Simmer 7-8 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken slightly. If desired, mash some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the gravy.
- Step 6- Stir in the chopped spinach. Simmer another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted.
- Step 7- Stir in the coconut milk, garam masala, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Step 8- Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve the curry with rice and/or naan.
- Toast the spices in oil in the pan for a minute or two before adding the rest of the sauce ingredients. This is known as blooming the spices. It gives the dish a deeper, more aromatic flavor.
- Use a microplane grater zester to grate the ginger and garlic so that there are no large pieces.
- Use full-fat coconut milk so the curry doesn't get watered down.
- If you want to thicken the curry, an easy tip is to mash some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon.
- You can add other ingredients to this vegetarian chickpea curry to make it even heartier. Diced potatoes or sweet potatoes, cauliflower, paneer (Indian cheese) or tofu would all make excellent additions to this dish.
My Latest Cookbook is Here!
Over 70 chef-created, doctor-approved recipes for delicious, healthy living. Take control of your health, starting in the kitchen!
What To Serve With This Dish
Serve this chickpea curry with basmati rice, jasmine rice or brown rice if you want to incorporate some healthy whole grains. For a low carb option, serve it with cauliflower rice.
I also like to serve this chickpea and spinach curry with warm naan, which is an Indian flatbread.
Yes! This chickpea and spinach curry can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Once you add the tomatoes, simmer the sauce for several minutes to thicken it. You can also mash some of the chickpeas with the back of spoon. This will help thicken it more. Coconut milk helps make the sauce creamy- use full fat rather than light coconut milk so the curry doesn't get watered down.
Yes, chickpeas are packed with nutrients! They are an excellent plant-based source of protein. They’re packed with fiber, protein, and antioxidants as well as several essential vitamins and minerals including iron, folate and potassium. Chickpeas and other pulses (like beans and legumes) are a staple of the Mediterranean diet.
Yes, you can leave the coconut milk out if you prefer. The coconut milk is not a traditional ingredient in Indian chickpea curry (chana masala) but I like to add it for extra flavor and creaminess.
More Vegetarian Recipes
Chickpea and Spinach Curry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated or minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder* (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes (about 4 plum tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 (15 ounce) cans low-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 container (5 ounces) baby spinach, roughly chopped or torn (can use frozen spinach)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons garam masala* (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until softened, 6-7 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.
- Add the turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and coriander and stir to combine with the onion. Cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the spices.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, chickpeas, and ½ cup water. Simmer 7-8 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken slightly. If desired, mash some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the gravy.
- Stir in the chopped spinach. Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted.
- Stir in the coconut milk, garam masala, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve the curry with basmati or brown rice and/or naan.