Channa Masala

Last week, DC was hit by a killer storm. Trees fell down across the city and took the power lines with them. Julia lost power on Friday, along with 443,000 other DC/MD/VA residents. Miraculously, my house stayed lit all weekend, so we were able to cook up our favorite Indian dish, channa masala.

This channa masala recipe from Eat Live Run was the first real meal I learned to cook for myself. I was living in DC after my freshman year in college, trying to find healthy recipes that I could make that weren’t too hard. I loved chickpeas and tomatoes but was never passionate about Indian food. I had none of the spices the recipe called for, but I went out and bought them anyway. I remember thinking “I just spend 30 dollars on spices. This recipe had better be good.”

And it was. 

Channa masala quickly became my go-to comfort food. When Julia visited me that July, it’s the first thing we made. We sat in the sunroom with my roommate Andrew and ate giant bowls full of it. We went back for seconds and thirds until we couldn’t even think about eating another chickpea. Now, whenever Julia comes to visit me, it’s the first dish we make.

This recipe inspired us to start collecting other recipes. We sent links to delicious sounding food to each other all summer and I compiled them in a giant binder for safekeeping. We were physically so far apart, but sharing recipes made us feel closer.

We’ve always gotten closer by sharing the same interests. When we were younger it was theatre and choir, then Spring Awakening and MAC makeup. Food was just the next shared obsession, but this recipe marks the turning point in our transformation from sisters to friends.

Adapted from Eat Live Run

Serves: 4 (or 2 really hungry sisters)
Cook time: 30 minutes

2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1 inch knob ginger, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
½ lemon


In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, or until golden brown.
Once the onions have caramelized, add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add the tomato paste and pince (check out Eat Live Run’s recipe for a great tutorial –this step is essential to a good channa masala).
Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and turmeric and stir well. Then, add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and garam masala.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until the chickpeas have heated through. Top with fresh lemon juice and serve with plain yogurt or goat cheese. 

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