This easy, flavorful coconut chickpea curry is ready in no time and packed with flavor!
Okay. I still have a couple MORE Thanksgiving recipes coming for you in the next couple of weeks, but right now I sort of need another break. As you may have realized, I eat all of the recipes that I make and test for this site and two straight months of Thanksgiving food is *a little much*, even for this potato lover.
I realized that I haven’t yet shared a basic coconut chickpea curry recipe here and it seemed like the perfect easy, budget-friendly, not-weird meal to break up the comfort food monotony. This healthy but comforting dish is inspired by Indian cuisine and easily customized with whatever nutritious vegetables and accompaniments you prefer.
Sometimes I see curry recipes on food blogs that basically amount to stirring together chickpeas, coconut milk, and curry powder*. We are not making our coconut chickpea curry like that today. We are building together several layers of seasoned umami flavor that will not leave you disappointed. Not to worry – this naturally vegan, gluten-free stew is still VERY easy to make, just follow the instructions and you will be good to go.
Tomatoes are a crucial part of the sweet, tangy, and savory background notes for the garbanzo beans here, so please don’t leave them out – if you do, your coconut curry chickpeas will taste a little blah. Fresh tomato season is finally over here in Maryland but canned tomatoes are perfectly fine in this recipe.
Anticipating another question I might get, you can adapt this to the slow cooker if you want to, but because there’s only about 10 minutes of simmering time anyway, I question whether the crock pot is really going to add anything. Same goes for the Instant Pot. This recipe is already quite fast and easy on the stovetop!
See the recipe notes for instructions on how to incorporate a few other common veggies like sweet potato, cauliflower, and spinach! For even more veggie power, you can also serve this with cauliflower rice!
*If I could change one thing about the way people make curries, soups and stews, it would be that everyone should STOP stirring raw spices into liquid, and instead toast them in the oil with the aromatics, which releases their flavors and allows them to be infused uniformly into the rest of the dish.
Easy Coconut Chickpea Curry
A classic easy coconut curry with chickpeas, inspired by Indian flavors. This garbanzo bean curry skips the complicated steps but doesn't skimp on flavor! Naturally vegan and gluten-free. Also free of grains, soy, and nuts.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large red onion thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and pinced
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (reduce to 1/8 tsp if freshly-ground)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 and 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (equal to 1 14-oz. can; drain before using)
- 1 and 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk (equal to 1 14-oz. can)
- 1 and 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (equal to 1 16-oz. can; drain and rinse before using)
- 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice (1 lime) (lemon also works)
- chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) for serving
In a large pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and starting to brown.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and ginger; stir and cook for 60 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in the garam masala, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook for 30 seconds more to toast the spices.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to break down and dry up a little bit. Stir in the coconut milk and chickpeas. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
Simmer the coconut chickpea curry for about 10 minutes or until reduced slightly. Stir in the fresh lime juice. Season to taste with additional salt (I used about another 1/2 teaspoon at this point). Serve hot, over rice or other accompaniments of choice, and garnished with chopped fresh cilantro.
TO ADD HEARTY VEGETABLES LIKE SWEET POTATO OR CAULIFLOWER: Cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces, and add them after the initial step of cooking the onion, but before adding the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the vegetable is softened a little bit. It can then finish cooking when the chickpea coconut curry is brought to a boil and simmered.
TO ADD QUICK-COOKING VEGETABLES LIKE SPINACH: After simmering the chickpea curry, turn off the heat, stir in the spinach, and cover the pan. Remove the lid after 2 minutes, or when the spinach is wilted to your liking.
Pictured with my vegan coconut curry with chickpeas is a blend of forbidden rice, black quinoa, and black lentils (also featured here in my chickpea burrito bowls).