This easy Chickpea Curry is super delicious, satisfying and can easily make it to the top, on your weekly menu. This coconut chickpea curry comes together quick, with little effort and can satisfy everyone with different dietary needs – vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or high-protein. Packed with protein, vegetables, and spices, it will tantalize your taste buds and leave everyone’s bellies full and happy. All it really needs is some sort of grain or flatbread on the side and you have a delicious dinner that gets even better as lunch leftovers the next day.
Chickpeas have been cultivated, or at least eaten, in the Middle East for nearly 10,000 years. They were eventually brought to and cultivated in the Mediterranean and South Asia, where they remain important to local cuisines.
In fact, there’s a few very famous spiced chickpea dishes from the Indian subcontinent called Chana masala and Punjabi Chole.
About Chickpea Curry
This is not a Chana Masala and not a Punjabi Chole as well! Coconut Chickpea Curry is a simple & fast one pot dish of curried chickpeas made with coconut milk, tomatoes and store-bought ground spices. That said, you can absolutely change up some of the flavors of this beautiful curry. Make it authentic coconut chickpea curry by following my recipe notes below.
This fast recipe is simple and straight forward, where we simmer the prepared chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients for a delicious curried dish bursting with flavors. Even with such a simple and crowd-pleasing recipe, there are so many ways to personalize it and make it really special.
To make this Chickpea Curry recipe fast, grab a can or two of chickpeas, canned tomato puree (passata), and coconut milk. If you love to work with all fresh ingredients from scratch (including coconut milk) you can also do that but takes time. Do check my pro tips section for that.
Love to work with dried chickpeas instead of canned? Rinse 1 cup dried chickpeas and soak overnight in warm water. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then add them to a stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot along with 1½ cups of water.
For the electric pressure cooker, pressure cook them for 17 minutes; for the stovetop pressure cooker, wait for 3 to 5 whistles depending on the model.
Above all, make sure the chickpeas, whether canned or pressure cooked, are really soft before adding them to the curry or else you risk the acidity in the tomatoes turning them hard. I have more tips in the Pro tips section below.
One of the best parts of this recipe is it comes together in a flash, if you have the ingredients ready. Here’s how to put it together.
How to Make Chickpea Curry (Stepwise Photos)
In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add 1 ½ cups of chopped onions. Cook the onions until they turn golden, stirring every 2 minutes to prevent burning.
Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic. Sauté with the onions until you can smell the garlic and ginger, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remember to stir to prevent burning.
Turn the heat to low and add 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ to 1½ teaspoons red chili powder or mild smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 ¼ teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 tablespoon curry powder.
Toast the spices for 30 to 40 seconds and stir to keep them from burning.
Once the spices become aromatic, stir in the 1 ½ cups fresh or 1 cup canned/bottled tomato purée.
Cook it on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes to remove the raw flavor of the tomatoes.
Add the 3 cups of canned or pre-cooked chickpeas, 1 ¼ cup water or chickpea stock, and 1 ¼ cups coconut milk. If using canned chickpeas, make sure they’re tender and you’ve drained and rinsed the chickpeas before adding them.
Cover the pan and simmer the curry on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes so the bottom of the curry doesn’t burn.
You’ll know it’s done when the chickpeas are melt-in-your-mouth soft and have absorbed the flavors of the curry. If they taste bland or too firm, cook at least another 5 to 10 minutes or until ready.
Stir in ½ teaspoon garam masala and 1 teaspoon sugar (optional), then taste test and add either more garam masala (up to another ½ teaspoon) or salt to taste. If you want you may add more coconut milk to your taste. Turn off the heat and keep the curry covered until serving time; this helps retain the flavors of chickpea curry.
Once the curry cools slightly, garnish with ¼ cup cilantro leaves. Top the curry with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve.
Great! You’ve made a delicious coconut chickpea curry. But how do you turn it into a rounded meal that can be spaced out over several servings?
You serve it with grains or bread! One of the best parts of the curry is the sauce, and a great way to soak up every bit of it is with some simple steamed or boiled grains and seeds such as white or brown rice, quinoa, or millet alongside deep-fried poppadoms if you feel fancy. Their mild taste allows them to absorb flavors beautifully.
Chickpeas: Check if your chickpeas are tender by squeezing a chickpea between your fingers. Does the chickpea smash easily? Then it’s ready to go into the curry. If your canned chickpeas are undercooked or have too much bite, boil them in plain water until soft.
Liquid: While I prefer to use plain water or chickpea water (aquafaba from the pressure cooked chickpeas) to make the curry. But you can replace the water in the curry with vegetable stock.
Love coconut milk? Add as much as you want! Just keep in mind that it will dilute the other flavors of the curry. All you will taste is only the coconut milk! If you prefer, you can either substitute the 1 ¼ cups canned coconut milk with homemade coconut milk or extract from 2 cups fresh or frozen coconut.
To make your own homemade coconut milk, grind 2 cups of fresh or frozen grated coconut with 1 cup of water in a food processor or blender.
Curry Leaves: If you want you may throw in 1 to 2 sprigs of curry leaves to the hot oil before adding the onions.
For spices, you can substitute the 1 tablespoon curry powder for 1 teaspoon garam masala, pav bhaji masala, or misal masala.
Authentic Coconut Chickpea curry : To make the authentic version, make your own spice blend by using the ingredients I mentioned in the recipe notes below.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 2 tablespoons oil (or ghee for flavor)
- 3 cups canned chickpeas (or precooked , 2 – 15 Oz cans, 1 cup dry chickpeas, refer notes)
- 1½ cup onions ( fine chopped, 1 large or 2 medium onions)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (1 inch fresh root, peeled & fine chopped)
- 1 tablespoon garlic (4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled & fine chopped)
- 1½ cups fresh tomato puree (or 1 cup canned/bottled tomato puree)
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ½ to 2 teaspoons red chili powder (adjust to taste, or mild smoked paprika)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1¼ tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (or pav bhaji masala or 1 teaspoon garam masala)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon garam masala (start with ½ teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1¼ cups water or stock (refer notes)
- 1¼ cups coconut milk (canned or first pressed, refer notes)
- ¼ cup coriander leaves (chopped cilantro)
How to Make Coconut Chickpea Curry
- Pour oil to a large pot & heat on a medium flame. Add chopped onions and cook until golden, stirring every 2 mins.
- Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 1 to 2 mins until the aroma of ginger garlic comes out.
- Lower the heat completely. Add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder and curry powder.
- Give a quick stir, taking care not to burn them. When you smell the spices aromatic, stir in the tomato puree. If using fresh tomato puree (not bottled), cook for about 4 to 5 mins, on a medium heat until the tomatoes cook down and loose the raw flavor.
- Add chickpeas (Preboiled or canned), 1 ¼ cup water (or stock) and coconut milk. Mix well. If using canned chickpeas, make sure they are tender and not hard. Drain the liquid away in your sink from the can and rinse them well before adding to the coconut curry.
- Cover and simmer on a low heat for 15 mins, stirring every 5 mins so the curry doesn’t burn at the bottom. When done the chickpeas should have a soft and melt-in-the- mouth texture with all of the flavors absorbed. If they taste bland cook them a little longer.
- Stir in the garam masala and sugar. Taste test and add more salt & garam masala if required.
- Turn off the heat. Keep the coconut chickpeas curry covered until served, this helps to retain the flavors of the garam masala.
- When the temperature comes down a bit, garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Squeeze in some lemon juice and serve over steamed rice, quinoa & millets or with roti, naan or any flatbreads.
- If you want you can throw 10 to 12 curry leaves to the hot oil before adding the onions.
- Substitute curry powder with 1 teaspoon garam masala. You can also use pav bhaji masala or misal masala (homemade or store bought).
- Use 1 cup dried chickpeas in place of canned. For this rinse and soak them overnight in warm water. Later drain the water and rinse them well. Pour 1 ½ cups water and pressure cook in Instant pot for 17 minutes. To cook in the stovetop cooker, pressure cook for 3 to 5 whistles depending on the type of your cooker.
- Chickpeas must essentially be soft and tender before adding to the curry. Undercooked chickpeas will turn hard after adding to the curry due to the acidic ingredient – tomatoes. Test by squeezing the chickpea, it should get mashed easily.
- If your canned chickpeas are undercooked or have a bite to them, boil for a while with plain water.
- The stock referred to in the ingredients is chickpeas cooked stock (aquafaba). If using canned chickpeas, discard the liquid from the can & rinse them well.
- You can use as much coconut milk as you want. But you may taste only the coconut milk in the curry with diluted flavors of spices.
- Substitute coconut milk with 2 cups fresh or frozen coconut. To make fresh coconut milk, grind 2 cups fresh or frozen grated coconut with 1 cup water).
- To make the authentic coconut chickpea curry, roast and blend the following ingredients. You don’t need to use curry powder or any coconut milk. 2 sprigs curry leaves ¾ cup fresh coconut (loosely measured) 3 green cardamoms 1 teaspoon fennel seeds ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper 4 to 5 cloves 2 inch cinnamon ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds 1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds ½ to ¾ cup water to grind
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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