Main Course/ Vegetarian

Vegan Chickpea Curry with Spinach

January 7, 2020
vegan chickpea curry with spinach in small bowl next to large pot with ladle

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to put more vegetarian and vegan meals on the table. My body feels better the more vegetable-forward dishes I eat, and reducing meat consumption is one small thing I can do to help the environment. Curry powders and pastes are one of my favorite tricks for adding so much flavor to a vegetable dish that you won’t miss the meat or dairy. This Vegan Chickpea Curry is a perfect example because it checks all the boxes: savory, warming, spicy, and filling. It’s a perfect meal for a chilly day in January, though I happily eat this throughout the year when I’m craving a big helping of nourishing veggies. 

The prep time for this chickpea curry recipe is fairly short—just a bit of chopping involved. Then you sauté onion slices followed by garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Once you add chickpeas, tomatoes, and vegetable broth, the rest of the cook time is pretty hands off. In fact, you don’t have to simmer this dish as long as I do in this recipe, as all of the ingredients are pre-cooked. But gentle simmering for 20 minutes will allow the ingredients to meld together and some of the extra liquid to boil off, adding flavor. Spinach wilts in at the end, and you have a delicious healthy meal which is also a great candidate for meal prep. Make a batch on the weekend, and eat it for lunch or dinner that week. See below for ideas. 

What kind of curry powder should I use? What can I substitute for curry powder?

A good curry powder is the key to this dish. Make sure your curry powder is not too old (all spices now have “best by” labels on them), because the flavor will really dissipate as time goes by. I love this curry powder from Penzey’s though there are lots of varieties to choose from. My curry powder has a pretty big kick when you use a full tablespoon, as I call for in this recipe. However, if your curry powder is not particularly spicy, you can always add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper to this dish. Also, if you do not have pre-made curry powder, you can create your own using a blend of garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and a touch of cinnamon.

ingredients for vegan chickpea curry: chickpeas, spinach, canned tomatoes, olive oil, onion, curry powder, ginger, garlic, vegetable broth

How do I make Vegan Chickpea Curry with Spinach?

Drain 2 cans of chickpeas in colander and rinse well. Heat 1.5 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté slices from 1/2 red onion for 5 minutes, until softened.

sautéed red onion in large skillet

Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of minced or grated ginger, and 1 tablespoon of curry powder, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.

sautéed red onion, ginger, garlic, and curry powder

Add chickpeas and 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes into small chunks with your spoon or spatula. Now add 1 cup vegetable broth and bring to a low boil.

chickpea curry without spinach in large skillet

Turn down heat on the stove until the curry is simmering gently. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until much of the liquid has evaporated. Taste, and add salt. (Because chickpeas, tomatoes, and vegetable broth can vary significantly in their sodium content, it’s best to taste your curry and add the amount of salt that your dish needs—if any.) Now stir in 4 cups of chopped spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Note that if your tomatoes are particularly acidic, you can add a bit of brown sugar to balance the flavors and add a touch of sweetness. 

vegan chickpea curry in large skillet

What should I serve with this chickpea curry? 

You can serve this dish with basmati rice, brown rice, naan, or cauliflower rice. You can also eat it just in a bowl by itself as a chunky stew. If I’m going for a vegetarian but not vegan vibe, I’ll serve it with buttered toast and a fried egg on top. Mmmmm.

How long does this Vegan Chickpea Curry last in the fridge?

Because this chickpea curry is vegan, there are no ingredients in it that will go bad quickly. You can store this in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days. After that, I’d recommend freezing it (see below).  

Chickpeas vs garbanzo beans: what’s the difference?

Trick question! Chickpeas and garbanzo beans are terms often used interchangeably for the same legume, though garbanzo beans actually refers to a particular type of chickpea. Chickpeas are one of the oldest cultivated legumes in the world. In the Middle East, archeologists have found remains of chickpea cultivation dating back 7500 years!

You can use chickpeas in all sorts of dishes including hummus, falafel, and chana masala. They are a staple of Middle East and Indian cuisine, and are featured in many different soups, salads, pasta, and curry dishes. Spice and roast chickpeas for a tasty and healthy snack. You can buy chickpeas dried or already cooked. If you buy dried chickpeas, you will need to boil and then simmer them for 1-2 hours until tender. Cook time can be shortened by soaking them overnight before using. Best of all, chickpeas are quite inexpensive and available in most grocery stores. 

Where do chickpeas come from?

There are several varieties of chickpeas that take slightly different forms. The variety known as garbanzo beans are light colored and larger than the smaller and darker desi chana, which are grown mostly in India. Mediterranean countries, Northern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South America, and Southern Europe grow most of the world’s garbanzo beans, with India producing 67% in 2017

What are the nutritional benefits of chickpeas? 

Chickpeas are rich with vitamins and minerals, and are high in fiber and protein. They are relatively low in calories but contain folate, phosphorus, manganese, copper, and iron. Eating chickpeas can help with weight management, as the combination of protein and fiber slows digestion so you feel full for longer. In addition, the protein content can be extremely beneficial for vegetarians and vegans who aren’t getting protein from animal products. 

Can I freeze Vegan Chickpea Curry?

Yes, this is a great freezer-friendly meal. Seal your leftovers in a freezer-safe, airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. 

Looking for other great vegetarian or vegan dishes? Check out my:

Vegan Chickpea Curry with Spinach

Vegan Chickpea Curry with Spinach

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Vegan Chickpea Curry is packed with chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, and onions, and spiced with curry powder. Gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy, and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 15.5 oz. cans chickpeas
  • 1.5 T. olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 14 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 4 c. spinach, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt, to taste

Instructions

    1. Drain chickpeas in colander and rinse well.
    2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
    3. Sauté onion for 5 minutes, until softened.
    4. Add garlic, ginger, and curry powder and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
    5. Add chickpeas and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes into small chunks with your spoon or spatula.
    6. Now add vegetable broth and bring to a low boil.
    7. Turn down heat on the stove until the curry is simmering gently. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until much of the liquid has evaporated.
    8. Taste, and add salt. (Because chickpeas, tomatoes, and vegetable broth can vary significantly in their sodium content, it’s best to taste your curry and add the amount of salt that your dish needs—if any.)
    9. Now stir in spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.

Notes

If your tomatoes are particularly acidic, you can add a bit of brown sugar to balance the flavors and add a touch of sweetness.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 314 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 476mg Carbohydrates: 48g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 16g Sugar: 10g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 18g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes
    January 8, 2020 at 9:39 am

    This looks delicious – I love chickpeas and spinach! Can’t wait to try soon.

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      January 10, 2020 at 4:20 pm

      Hope you do! Really yummy, and you feel so good after eating!

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