Channa Masala

Channa Masala, a dish of chickpeas in a spicy Indian tomato sauce, has been one of my favorite dishes for a long time. As a poor college student I made a version of this with a boxed spice mix from a local international food store in Philadelphia. It was good, but this is wayyyy better. This recipe with real spices makes the flavor really pop, and the addition of some coconut milk adds a creaminess that cuts some of the spice. It's a party on the palate!

Channa Masala
2 cans chick peas (drained, rinsed several times)
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 large tomatoes (diced)
2 dried chilis (whole)
pinch curry leaves
1 Tbsp garlic paste
1 Tbsp ginger paste
2 C water
3/4 C coconut milk (this should not be sweet)
1/2 lime
2 tsp coconut oil
salt, to taste

Spice Mix
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp amchur powder (this is mango powder for tartness)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 Tbsp whole coriander
3 whole cloves
1/2 inch stick cinnamon

1. In a spice grinder grind whole spices. Add powdered spices and set aside.
2. In a saucepan heat coconut oil to medium. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add chilis, curry leaves, garlic and ginger pastes. Add about 1 tsp salt. Sauté, stirring frequently until beginning to brown (if sticky add a little water).
4. Add spice mix and stir until onions are well coated. Cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring well.
6. Add chickpeas and water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 15 minutes. Turn down to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 35 minutes.
7. Add coconut milk and let simmer for another 10 minutes (check salt level and add more if needed). Add handful of chopped cilantro in the last minute and the lime juice (reserving some for garnish). 
8. Remove the chilis and curry leaves. Serve with naan or basmathi rice and garnish with cilantro.
Channa Masala served with grilled garlic naan