Chickpea Curry

January 9, 2021

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

Chickpea Coconut Curry  – a healthy, vegan recipe made with hearty chickpeas, rich and creamy coconut milk, an abundance of earthy and warm spices, sweet tomatoes and fresh lime and cilantro. It’s a lunchtime favorite!

Photo of Chickpea Coconut Curry shown atop rice garnished with cilantro in a serving bowl. Also shows naan bread to the side as a serving suggestion.

Chickpea Coconut Curry

This Chickpea curry is such a hearty and flavorful Indian dish that really packs in that crave-able flavor! It’s made without any meat and you won’t even miss it in the slightest!

The best part, in my opinion, really is the sauce with it’s vibrant taste and perfect smoothness (no chunks thanks to a quick blend).

Though it may seem like an incredibly long list of ingredients here, don’t be alarmed because the majority of it is spices you likely already have on hand (plus I’ve even included a few as optional).

Some of you may be thinking, but wait, there’s no curry? Here we make our own curry spice blend which gives us far more overall control in flavor and heat level.

And this recipe uses plenty of them for an exciting, rich depth of well rounded flavor.

Serving suggestions are of course the classic basmati rice or cauliflower rice, but if you really want to go all out serve with warm buttery naan bread. Roasted vegetables are a great side to it as well just ditch the Italian seasoning and use spices like those here instead.

Overhead photo of chickpea curry in a stainless steel pan set over a blue cloth.

Chickpea Curry Recipe Ingredients

  • Spices: You’ll need coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel seeds, ground cinnamon, mustard powder, ground cloves, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, then optionally cardamom and smoked paprika. We make our own curry spice blend here because those at the store vary in spices and heat intensity.
  • Olive oil: This is used to saute the vegetables. Refined coconut oil will work fine too or ghee if non-vegan.
  • Yellow onion: Red onion can be substituted if needed.
  • Garlic: Only use fresh garlic.
  • Ginger: Only use fresh ginger.
  • Canned fire roasted tomatoes: Since we aren’t browning anything in the recipe other than vegetables it helps to build flavor to use “fire roasted” tomatoes.
  • Canned coconut milk: I prefer full fat for a richer option though you can use light coconut milk to cut calories and fat if preferred. Do not use “coconut milk beverage” as it’s far too watery.
  • Canned chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans.
  • Lime juice: Opt for fresh for best flavor. Lemon works great too.
  • Cilantro: I like to add plenty of this but you can add to taste.

Photo of ingredients used to make chickpea curry. Includes chickpeas, coconut milk, canned fire roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lime, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, fennel seed, mustard powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper.

How to Make Vegan Chickpea Curry

  • 1. Measure out spices: Add spices to bowl including coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel, cinnamon, mustard, cloves, cardamom, paprika, pepper to taste*, and cayenne pepper to taste*.
  • 2. Saute vegetables: Heat olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan or a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until lightly golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute 1 minute.
  • 3. Briefly saute spices: Reduce heat to medium, add spices and saute 30 seconds.
  • 4. Add and simmer tomatoes and coconut milk: Pour and stir in tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 10 minutes.

Collage of six photos showing the first six steps of preparing curry sauce for chickpea curry in a pan.

  • 5. Puree mixture in blender: Carefully pour mixture into a blender. Cover blender with lid and remove center insert from lid and cover with a kitchen towel or several folded layer of paper towels. Blend on low speed until smooth..
  • 6. Return sauce to pan, add chickpeas and simmer: Return mixture to pan, add chick peas, season with salt to taste. Cover while leaving lid partially open for steam to escape. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced slightly and chick peas have absorbed some flavor, about 10 minutes.
  • 7. Add lime and serve: Stir in lime. Serve warm over rice if desired, garnish with cilantro.

Collage of four photos showing how to blend curry sauce in blender then adding chickpeas and saute to pan to simmer together.

Can it be frozen?

  • Yes chickpea curry freezes well for up to 3 months.
  • Freeze in an airtight container and allow a little room at the top for liquid to expand.
  • Either freeze in one big batch or individual portions to thaw a single serving at a time.

What about using freshly cooked chickpeas?

  • Fresh cooked chickpeas work well too instead of canned.
  • If going this route use 3 cups cooked chickpeas.

Can I use a spice blend?

  • I know it’s a long list of spices and it can be expensive to buy them if you don’t already have them.
  • You can try using 2 tsp of each garam masala and curry powder (or more taste) in their place.
  • Just keep in mind it may be a bit spicy because you can’t adjust the heat level and it will be a different final flavor/not quite as flavorful because each spice blend varies in what is added.

Chickpea curry in a saute pan shown from a side angle.

Variations

  • Vegetables: Cauliflower, peas, green beans, red bell pepper, sweet potatoes or red/yellow potatoes would be great here. Though with potatoes I would almost fully cook first before adding.
  • Add lentils: Cooked or canned, and drained lentils will work well just add near the end.
  • Use other spices: Curry powder is a blend of flavorful spices commonly used in Indian cooking and I used a blend I like here but there are more great options. Others you can include are chili powder, curry leaves, fenugreek leaves, bay leaves, nutmeg, etc.
  • Use freshly ground whole spices: If you have a spice grinder you can begin with whole spices for more flavor. Just grind them, then from there measure spices as listed.

Helpful Tips

  • You can use a meat mallet to crush fennel in a small resealable bag.
  • Brown onion slightly to build flavor.
  • Saute and bloom spices briefly to also increase flavor.
  • Depending on how runny you like the sauce you can simmer covered or uncover slightly after adding chickpeas. I like it a little thicker so I crack it open about an inch.
  • For a thinner soupier sauce you can thin with a little vegetable broth or chickpea liquid from can.

Overhead photo of single serving of chickpea curry with rice, naan, cilantro and limes.

More Delicious Chickpea Recipes to Try

Photo of chickpea curry in a bowl served atop basmati rice with naan bread to the side.
5 from 3 votes

Chickpea Coconut Curry

A healthy, vegan recipe made with hearty chickpeas, rich and creamy coconut milk, an abundance of earthy and warm spices, sweet tomatoes and fresh lime and cilantro. One of my lunchtime favorites
Servings: 5 (or 4 larger)
Prep15 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger (1-inch knob)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (or lemon)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Instructions

  • Measure spices into a bowl including coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel, cinnamon, mustard, cloves, cardamom, paprika, pepper to taste,* and cayenne pepper to taste.*
  • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan or a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until lightly golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add garlic and ginger and saute 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, add spices and saute 30 seconds.
  • Pour and stir in tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring just to a simmer then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 10 minutes.
  • Carefully pour mixture into a blender. Cover blender with lid and remove center insert from lid and cover with a kitchen towel or several folded layer of paper towels. Blend on low speed until smooth.
  • Return mixture to pan, add chick peas, season with salt to taste. Cover while leaving lid partially open for steam to escape.** Cook over low heat stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced slightly and chick peas have absorbed some flavor, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in lime. Serve warm over rice if desired, garnish with cilantro.

Notes

  • *I suggest using about 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to desired heat level).
  • **For a thinner sauce cover fully with lid. You can even thin with some liquid from chickpea can or vegetable broth.
Nutrition Facts
Chickpea Coconut Curry
Amount Per Serving
Calories 421 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Sodium 444mg19%
Potassium 587mg17%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 482IU10%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 138mg14%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.