March 28, 2016
At Home with Friends


Chana Masala

When I was growing up, my Mother never made beans. I only ever ate them when we went out for Mexican food (refried beans) or occasionally with hot dogs (canned baked beans loaded with brown sugar). I was used to seeing garbanzo beans and kidney beans at salad bars but I never chose them. There were so many other good things to eat, why bother with beans?

And then I attended cooking school with Lorenza di Medici. One of the things we made was garbanzo bean soup. I read the recipe and thought it would be boring until I tasted it. It was life changing and introduced me to the world of beans. I moved on to white bean garlic puree, creamy rustic white beans with gremolata and even a Moroccan vegetable bean stew.

I had already loved Indian food, but again with so many great things to eat, I never ordered Chana Masala, until someone else did and I tasted it. And now I always order it. These beans are so flavorful and work as a savory side dish with so many different meals, from eggs at brunch to baked fish, to roasted chicken.

I use canned organic garbanzo beans because they shorten the cooking time. If you prefer to buy a bag of uncooked beans, wash them thoroughly, soak them 10 hours and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Me, I always use canned beans that I drain and rinse. One less step that doesn’t affect the taste.

The spices are vital to this dish. They create subtle layers of flavor which make these beans almost addictive. You’ll want to put them under fried or poached eggs, roll them up in a burrito, puree them and smear then on flatbread when making a lavash sandwich. So many uses — so simple to make!

Oh, and there’s lots of nutritional value in beans which is a side benefit from something so yummy.


EVENT: New Year’s Day Brunch

SERVES: 6-8 People


2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1-2 tablespoons neutral oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, mashed

1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1-2 teaspoons chili powder

1 cup canned, peeled and chopped tomatoes, drained (retain liquid!)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 serrano pepper, seeded and cut into slivers (optional)

Fresh cilantro, for garnish


1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder and Garam Masala. Mix spices with onions.

2. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook stirring until onions are soft. Add some liquid from canned tomatoes to keep mixture well moistened.

3. Add garbanzo beans and mix until thoroughly combined.

4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Taste, add salt and pepper.

5. If using serrano pepper, add now and cook covered 5 minutes. Top with fresh cilantro and serve.


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