golden chana masala

golden chana masala // via thefirstmess.compin it!my yellow tomatoes // via thefirstmess.compin it!golden chana masala // via thefirstmess.compin it!
When the tail end of tomato season and sweater weather collide? It’s pure magic if you’re askin’ me. I’ve still got a bunch of things to pick/pull out of my veg garden, the farm stands are packed to the gills, there’s no urgent need for a/c, my somewhat expensive La Croix habit can finally subside, jeans can be worn with total comfort, the cozy-crisp duvet has emerged from the closet, and I can sip a hot beverage at any point of the day without getting a hot flash (I’ll take 6 coffees, please). Win on top of win. Oh, and the perfect timing of this album? It’s total alignment.

I’m pretty much up to my neck in cookbook-related endeavours, just did about 3 days in California with lots of tomatoes and minimal sleep (missin’ these babes), and we’re heading to Montreal this weekend with friends. There’s some Fall projects around the house that also need squared away before things get too brisk. Even if I spend full days cooking and getting all my bizness lined up, I still make an effort to just clear the decks and start dinner from a clean slate. No recipes or plan aside from using up what we have and getting the vegetables in. Structured spontaneity sort of? (says the fierce Type A) It’s been putting me in a calm place.

I hauled the slow cooker up from the basement and let an unreasonable amount of chickpeas simmer away on the counter the other day. This slow-cooking method from The Kitchn has become my go-to for all manners of beans. It’s low maintenance, easy to micro-manage if need be, and it doesn’t take up precious stove real estate. So I had buckets of chickpeas to use up. While there’s a lot of recipes for them here on this site, I think a lot of us can agree that the queen bee of chickpea dishes is chana masala. I think it was one of the first definitively vegetarian foods I ate as a youth.

My dad’s been growing these beautiful roma/plum-style yellow tomatoes for a couple years now. They’re so mellow, lightly sweet, firm, and plenty juicy. I have some type of golden/blush heirloom tomato variety out back at my house, but I like his better. They have a sharper acidity that works when there’s some heat application in the works. I thought about using them in a slightly soup-y version of a typical chana masala, bumped up with an extra bit of turmeric to really bring out that deep gold. Some minced lemon peel and juice rounds out the flavour with sourness and a slight bitter edge.

I’m sort of a wuss and generally find restaurant/take-out chana masala a touch too spicy. Obviously if I’m making it at home, I get to moderate the heat level and make the dish work for me. Like I said, my version is definitely a touch more soup-y than what is typical. I made some quickie pan-fried flatbreads from my favourite spelt dough to serve along with. This stew has so much good stuff going on, all at the same time. It’s spicy, sour, earthy, herbal, and even meat-y at times. Hope some of you get to make it before the tomatoes go away for another year ;)

One last thing: I’m in the latest issue of Chickpea Magazine! Aileen and Keara put together a bang-up piece about veganism and possible associated observations of elitism and privilege, and I’m just grateful to have taken part in the discussion they put forward (along with Bryant Terry and the folks behind S + M Vegan Chefs). You can get a digital or print copy here.

for golden chana masala // via thefirstmess.compin it!via thefirstmess.compin it!golden chana masala // via thefirstmess.compin it!golden chana masala // via thefirstmess.compin it!

Golden Chana Masala recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Madhur Jaffrey, The BBC, and Slate.
Print the recipe here!
Serves: 4
Notes: Fresh yellow tomatoes give this stew that “golden” hue, but if you’re making it out of season, some canned + diced tomatoes will work just fine. I tend to prefer the fire-roasted ones from Muir Glen.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon refined/unscented coconut oil
1 cooking onion, fine dice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled + minced
1 small fresh chili, seeded + minced
1 strip of lemon peel (white pith and all), minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups diced fresh yellow tomatoes (or red!)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 a lemon)
chopped cilantro, for serving
warm brown rice or flatbread, for serving

In a dry, medium soup-style pot, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Dump the toasted spices out of the pan into a spice grinder. Grind up the toasted spices to a coarse powder and set aside.

Return the soup pot to the heat with the tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the onions to the pot and stir. The pot should be quietly sizzling. Sauté and stir the onions for a good 6-7 minutes, or until very soft and translucent.

Add the turmeric, curry powder, and ground cumin and coriander mix to the pot. Stir it around to get the spices fully mingled with the oil and onions, for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, ginger, minced chili, and minced lemon peel to the pan. Stir the pot for about a minute or until the garlic is very fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir a few more times.

Dump the diced tomatoes into the pot and stir, scraping up the traces of spice on the sides of the pot. Then, add the vegetable stock and chickpeas. Bring the chana masala to a boil, and then lightly simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down significantly. You can help this process along by smushing the pieces of tomato with the back of your spoon here and there.

Right before serving, stir in the fresh lemon juice. Garnish the chana masala with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve hot with cooked rice, flatbread etc.

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  • Kathryn23/09/2015 - 5:10 am

    Every year, I think that I’m going to be sad about the end of summer but then you get the most perfect autumn days when there’s just a hint of crispness in the air and the nights start getting darker and bowls of comfort just seem so right and I wonder why I ever thought I’d miss the summer. I think this is the perfect kind of dish for these liminal weeksReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 10:59 am

      I’m the same way, always defending summer to the bitter end and resisting any sort of season-pushing. After one cool night with a cozy blanket though? I can’t turn back. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Erica23/09/2015 - 7:25 am

    By far my favorite Indian dish, and your channa masala looks incredible. I love the color, it’s so appropriate for the change in season!ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 11:01 am

      Yes! I have to order it every time we get Indian food. Thanks Erica!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar23/09/2015 - 7:30 am

    So crazy gorgeous! I love the colour and the warm spices you used. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Tori23/09/2015 - 8:00 am

    This looks fantastic! Your pictures are as stunning as always and the food is making me super hungry! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Well and Full23/09/2015 - 9:41 am

    This is such a beautiful stew! Unfortunately my local farmers’ markets have pretty much stopped offering tomatoes, but to be fair we had a great season so I can’t complain. Still, I’ll keep my eye out in case I can make this beauty of a recipe! :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 11:03 am

      Our season always runs late because, well, it starts later than everyone else it seems. This recipe is really bangin’ with canned tomatoes too :)
      xx LReplyCancel

  • Traci | Vanilla And Bean23/09/2015 - 9:46 am

    Sadly I’ve never tried Chana Masala, but have run across recipes many times and absolutely adore the ingredients. I think you’ve pushed me over the edge with this one! Congratulations on your feature in Chickpea; I’m looking forward to reading. Thank you for this, my dear!ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 11:04 am

      Hope you try it out! The ingredients are pretty simple/easily available, and I think that’s why I like this one so much. Thanks Traci!
      -LReplyCancel

  • This chana masala is absolutely beautiful! I just made a traditional recipe this weekend but the next time I make it I will be making it “golden!” :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 11:05 am

      Hope you give goldy a try ;) Thanks Lauren!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Ashlae23/09/2015 - 10:07 am

    I’m so bummed I missed that trip + the opportunity to hang with you babes. IT LOOKED SO FUN. Also? Whole Paycheck was running a deal on La Croix earlier this summer and you can bet your ass I stocked our entryway closet with 20 cases.. that I had delivered via Instacart because I couldn’t be bothered with making THAT many trips on my two-wheeled method of transportation. I need a slow cooker soooooo bad. Gotta good one you can recommend? XOReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 11:08 am

      I’m bummed that you missed it too, but I think you had some better things to do ;) I wiiiiiiiish we had Instacart in Canada! I’m pretty sure you will vibe to a slow cooker. I made a tempeh and walnut chorizo-ish spiced taco filling in mine recently and it was crazy good. I use this one, and I love it mainly because it cooks faster than most slow cookers. I’m an impatient girl sometimes, what can I say. xoReplyCancel

  • Allyson23/09/2015 - 11:21 am

    I love the changing of seasons, but my favorite might be when summer slides into fall. This chana masala looks perfect for now, warming and hearty and fresh. That article sounds fascinating, btw.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 12:19 pm

      This micro season is just the best for so many reasons. Keara and Aileen knocked it outta the park with that article, seriously. A great read and an awesome magazine, too. Thanks Allyson!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Tyra23/09/2015 - 1:19 pm

    The picture was so inviting I had to come over from Instagram. A good curry is such a warm fall staple and I haven’t made traditional Channa Masala in a long time. I’ve been making sweet and spicy with tamarind. Thanks for giving a use for the chickpeas I always keep stored in the freezer.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 8:20 pm

      I loooove tamarind with chickpeas. Such a beautiful pairing. Hope you give this one a try! ;)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Keara McGraw23/09/2015 - 4:05 pm

    Reading this RIGHT as I just bought some (kinda sad) canned chana masala from the grocery store for a janky dinner to-go. If I close my eyes while I eat it and think of these stunning photos, it’s almost homemade, right? Once again, all of my gratitude for sharing your story with Aileen and I. Real honored to have you amongst that all-star lineup.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 8:20 pm

      Oooooh we do the janky dinners too. No one is immune! Wish I coulda food-faxed you a bowl though ;) Grateful for Aileen’s and your talents. A boat load of inspiration for real. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Emily23/09/2015 - 5:52 pm

    Hey Laura! How could I adapt this to work for a slow cooker? I just got one and I’m v excited about it :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 8:09 pm

      Hey Emily, I’m honestly not sure on that one! My guess would be to sauté the onions and spices on the stove until everything’s soft and cooked out, then transfer that to the slow cooker, add everything else and then set it to “high” for 3-4 hours maybe? If you try it, please let me know how it goes. Very curious now ;)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist23/09/2015 - 7:01 pm

    These photos are stunning. I love your style. So much color! I was happy t see a new post from you today. I’ve loved following all of your gorgeous photos and adventures on Instagram. Looking forward to trying this recipe.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 8:16 pm

      Thanks for following along here and on Insta! Your compliments are so kind :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Karen @ Seasonal Cravings23/09/2015 - 7:49 pm

    Oh my gosh I have been obsessed with chickpeas lately and this looks divine. I just roasted them with carrots and maple syrup and they were delicious. Can’t wait to try this out. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/09/2015 - 8:10 pm

      Your dish sounds amazing. Love those cozy flavours :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • genevieve @ gratitude & greens23/09/2015 - 8:57 pm

    I’m always sad to see summer go but I’m ready for some stew and sweather weather! The weather has been so lovely and I’m very happy to be reunited with my jeans. This chana masala looks perfect for celebrating the end of summer!ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Snyder | Faring Well23/09/2015 - 11:05 pm

    Ryan Adams? I knew I liked you. And this dish. You are singing to my heart’s cravings this week, and the fact I have the majority of these ingredients on hand means my heart’s wish just might come true ;). Big autumn-y hugs to you. And that slow cooker method is brilliant. Slightly regretting giving mine away! Maybe I’ll acquire one again one day and put it to use just for this reason (brilliant!). xoReplyCancel

    • Laura24/09/2015 - 7:48 am

      Sending an autumn-y hug right on back, babe :) xoReplyCancel

  • Anna24/09/2015 - 4:56 am

    looks absolutely scrumptiouuus!! yumy

    https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/ReplyCancel

  • Julia Graham24/09/2015 - 7:32 am

    will be making this asap. please visit while in Montreal!! :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura24/09/2015 - 7:47 am

      We’re driving up tomorrow morning! Maybe a snack stop on our way in? Messaging my road trip partner right now ;) xoReplyCancel

  • Shira24/09/2015 - 10:08 am

    It’s all Ryan all the time in this house…couldn’t agree more about the timing – perfect cozy fall listening (and man it’s so good!). Jeans. I loved reading this Laura! Beautiful recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Heather24/09/2015 - 11:19 am

    I will be making this tonight. It is exactly what I was looking for. I just made a batch of chickpeas and was wondering besides hummus what the heck I should make of them. This seems the best of both worlds since I love all the spices used here, I love tomatoes (although red it will be) and I love curries. Win Win. Thanks for another great post. Will let you know how it goes. xo – love and light. – HReplyCancel

  • Jessica DeMarra25/09/2015 - 8:49 am

    It is like a beautiful, warm, and delicious bowl of sunshine on these short cool days. My partner will like this, he claims he needs to be in a “soup mood” and it cannot be pureed. What a weirdo.ReplyCancel

  • Much different from the traditional Chana Masala I had in India, but I think I like it better because of the soupiness factor. It somehow makes it seem like the most comforting bowl of fall loveliness ever. And that color. Damn that is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • keto recipes26/09/2015 - 11:10 am

    What a beautiful masala dish! Love the shots :) PinnedReplyCancel

  • teri c27/09/2015 - 7:44 pm

    this recipe rocked! I printed it as soon as I saw the yellow tomatoes as I’d just been given the end of garden yellow cherry tomatoes-way more than I could eat. This is yummy, comforting and beautiful! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • genevieve @ gratitude & greens27/09/2015 - 9:47 pm

    I so agree with what Jessica said above- this is a beautiful bowl of sunshine! I’m also a fan of Ryan Adam’s 1989. Can’t. stop. listening.ReplyCancel

  • Cara29/09/2015 - 2:07 pm

    I just came across your blog and love it! I adapted your recipe for this masala last night and it was so good :) and these photos are stunning! xoReplyCancel

  • […] – Who can resist golden food?! […]ReplyCancel

  • Angela01/10/2015 - 7:53 am

    Oh, oh, a chickpea recipe! I’ve been looking for a good one for quite some time now. I’m on chickpea spree lately and this is almost all I eat. It really is delicious and goes well with lots of stuff. Your recipe reminds me of Mediterranean cuisine somehow.ReplyCancel

  • Rakhee@boxofspice05/10/2015 - 5:37 am

    Chana masala is very popular in India and in some parts you will even see it as street food! Your version looks lovely. :)ReplyCancel

  • Becca | Spices and Spatulas06/10/2015 - 2:29 pm

    Gorgeous shots of that garden, I want to move in there and stay forever. This chana masala looks fantastic, chickpeas have a place in every meal. Also, I love your turquoise stockpot! xoReplyCancel

  • Lindsey06/10/2015 - 6:03 pm

    Wow, so delicious looking. I really like the way you use natural/afternoon lighting. It makes me feel the warmth in the photo almost tangible! Gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Tessa | Natural Comfort Kitchen07/10/2015 - 12:25 pm

    I love the sounds of your dinner routine. Recipe testing and photography can sometimes suck the joy out of my total love for cooking, so I’ll have to try ending the day with some cooking “me time” :)ReplyCancel

  • Benilana11/10/2015 - 7:08 pm

    Such perfect timing! The end of my summer tomato garden yielded a big bowl full of yellow cherry tomatoes, plus I’ve been craving some Chana Masala. Your spice mixture is divine (I tripled the chills because I love extra heat), and I love that you included my favorite curry tip: dry roast the cumin & coriander seeds then grind them up. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Katie12/10/2015 - 3:20 pm

    I made this for my family after a long day of rain. It was absolutely delicious and we were quite delighted that it made enough for leftovers the next day.ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie|Roamingtaste14/10/2015 - 10:44 am

    This looks beautiful and warm and filling in the nicest possible way for these cooling days and longer nights with the simplest of ingredients. Yum.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn @ The Actor's Diet25/10/2015 - 9:26 pm

    La Croix can be a very $$$$ habit!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Davidge27/11/2015 - 1:24 pm

    One of my favorite recipes of the year, the flavors are just perfect. I especially think the lemon peel adds so much flavor and freshness. I even froze the extra orange tomatoes from my garden in specially measured portions so I can continue to make this recipe throughout the winter. Thanks so much for creating a beautiful and delicious recipe :)ReplyCancel

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