Grad Student Friendly Recipe #1: Chickpea Curry

I told you before about my friend Yoshi who is in grad school and who wants to start cooking more and eating healthier but in the cheapest and most simple way possible. I know it’s taken me awhile to post this, but here you go: grad student friendly recipe #1, Chickpea Curry. This curry will satisfy you with flavors, protein, fiber and veggies. Being milder in taste than some curries, you could easily eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you want it spicier, add some cayenne. If you feel like getting a little fancy, use fresh ginger and add a bit of garam masala at the end. Have veggies to use up? Throw them in. Want more beans? Do it. This recipe is really just a canvas for whatever you have around/feel like eating. For a few pennies and minutes more use brown rice which is higher in protein and fiber than white and has a bunch of vitamins and minerals and stuff in it. Oh yeah, and it’s about $1.50/serving including rice and using organic ingredients (and assuming you already have oil, salt, and water, and are buying little bits of spices in bulk). Or, serve with naan (I’m a big fan of the frozen garlic naan at Trader Joe’s) or pita or quinoa or cous cous or whatever. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or in freezer bags in the freezer.

Have a crock pot? Use it! I’ll give directions below for using a slow cooker or the stove.

Finally, as Mark and I were devouring this for dinner last night, we agreed that it might benefit from some crushed peanuts. So do that if you feel like it. And speaking of Mark, he is not a fan of the texture of cooked greens. I’m sure many of you can relate. If that’s the case, blend up the greens (I used a stick blender like this one and added enough water so that the blades weren’t spinning) before adding them. If you want a little more food and protein, go ahead and add another can of chickpeas. Not familiar with garam masala? It’s an aromatic spice blend that adds distinctive flavor to many Indian dishes. If you’re spice-shy, maybe start out without it. Or just grab a tiny bit in the bulk department at the store and smell it before adding it to your curry. Oh, and speaking of spices, have I mentioned how much I love the bulk aisle? Spices are crazy expensive to purchase by the bottle and spoil before you’d ever be able to use most of them (I only use chili powder and cumin quickly enough to warrant buying a bottle at a time and even so it’s about $4 cheaper to buy a bottles worth of bulk than a new bottle, and you save a bottle if you reuse the old one! Huzzah recycling.) 

Chickpea Curry

Time commitment: about an hour for the stove, between two and 6 hours for the slow cooker

Makes: about 12 one-cup servings


  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 whole white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced (or 1/4-1/2 t. granulated garlic)
  • 1/2-1 t. ginger powder (or an inch grated)
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained (or just drained)
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted crushed tomatoes)
  • 1 lb. red potatoes (about 2 medium/large) diced
  • 2 c. loosely packed fresh spinach or kale, chopped or blended (or 1c. frozen chopped spinach)
  • 2 c. frozen veggies (I used 1 c. cauliflower and 1/2 c. each corn and peas)
  • 1/2 t. garam masala (optional)
  • cooked rice or naan for serving

Directions for the stove top:

  1. Heat a pan of at least 4 quarts over medium heat. Add oil and heat till shimmering. Add onions and stir. Saute till almost transluscent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, spices and salt. Cook stirring till fragrant, a couple of minutes.
  2. Add water and stir, scraping bottom of pan to deglaze. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, greens and potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking on low heat uncovered for about 30 or 40 minutes. (The longer you cook it the more developed the flavors will be.)
  3. About 10 minutes before serving, add frozen veggies and garam masala (if using). Stir, increase heat to bring back to a simmer, and then return heat to low. Serve over rice or with naan when veggies are tender.

Directions for the slow cooker:

  1. Combine all ingredients listed before frozen veggies in the slow cooker. Set timer for 1 1/2 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low. Cover and cook.
  2. 15 minutes before serving, increase heat to high and add veggies and garam masala. Stir and cook on high till veggies are tender. Serve over rice or naan.
This entry was posted in dinner, do-ahead, gluten-free, Grad Student Friendly, lunch, recipe, slow-cooker, using up old veggies, vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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