Chickpea and Spinach Curry

October 12, 2006 at 4:30 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Beans and greens, Derek's faves, Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan) ()

After Derek returned from Australia he suggested I check out “Bill’s” cookbooks. Apparently he ate at Bill’s restaurants a number of times in Sydney, and really enjoyed the food. This recipe is from Bill’s Open Kitchen by Bill Granger.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 or 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 14-oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 100 g (3 1/2 ounces) baby spinach leaves
  • Serve with: plain yogurt


  1. Heat a large deep frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, chili and salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the chickpeas, 1/4 cup water, cumin, turmeric and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until the water evaporates.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to soften. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Stir through the spinach and top with yogurt.

Derek really loved this dish, and I thought it wasn’t bad. It’s a relatively simple curry, but surprisingly tasty. It’s somehow more than the sum of it’s parts. This curry is very fast and easy to make if you use canned chickpeas and pre-washed spinach.

This recipe makes about 4.5 cups and I found that 1.33 cups with 2/3 cup of nonfat yogurt makes a filling dinner. Together with the yogurt, using 1 Tbs of oil, one servings has 412 calories (18% fat, 21% protein, 61% carbs), and also 47% of calcium, 33% of iron, 43% of vit A, 67% of vitamin C, and 15.4g of fiber.

After making it a few more times, I recommend using only one can of chickpeas and 1 Tbs. of oil, and decreasing the salt. Alternatively, use 2 cups of chickpeas but increase the seasoning. For example, with 2 cans of chickpeas I’d probably use 8 ounces of spinach, 2 green chilies with seeds, more garlic, and a full tablespoon or more of ginger. This makes about 4 main course servings.

Rose: B+
Derek: A-

Update 8/8/2007: I made this last night, using only 1 Tbs. olive oil, and regular mature spinach from my CSA. I didn’t have fresh tomatoes so used one 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. I was also out of ginger. Despite my deficiencies, the curry was pretty good–and it even with less oil it was certainly rich enough in my opinion. I though it could use more spinach, since it seemed to be mostly chickpeas. Also, I think the yogurt (or something creamy and bland) is essential to balance the flavors.

To try next time:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced (or minced for Alma)
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced (or minced for Alma)
  • 1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger (Alma doesn’t like ginger, so better to finely slice it so she can pick out the pieces from her dish)
  • 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (omit for Alma)
  • 1.25 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1.5 large jars of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 250 – 300g (9 – 10.5 ounces) spinach leaves
  • Serve with: plain yogurt

Update March 2010: I made this using 125 grams of baby spinach, 1 can of chickpeas, and 1 can of diced tomatoes.  Derek thought it needed more chickpeas.  He didn’t like it with canned tomatoes as much as he does with fresh cherry tomatoes.  He lowered his rating to a B+.  I thought it was pretty similar to the previous versions, but I liked it with fewer chickpeas.  My main beef with this recipe is that it just doesn’t taste like a curry to me.  It’s pretty fresh and healthy tasting, and very easy to make.  But I just don’t love it.

Update August 2010: I made this using 200 grams baby spinach, a large can of chickpeas (about 450 grams of cooked beans), 2 very large cloves of garlic, just a small nub of ginger minced (not grated), 1 medium red onion, 3/4 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. cumin,  3/4 tsp. cumin, 3 very hot Thai red chilies, 1 Tbs. olive oil, and about 300? grams of cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market.  At the end I stirred about 1 cup of nonfat yogurt directly into the skillet with the chickpeas and spinach.  The curry came out very spicy but quite tasty.  I just should have waited to stir in the yogurt, because the curry was too hot and my yogurt separated.  This time Derek rated it A- again, and I quite liked it quite a bit as well.  I think it’s much better with cherry tomatoes.  They really add a nice texture:  B+.

Update June 2019: I made this recipe once last fall and Derek and I quite enjoyed it, and Alma ate it, albeit somewhat grudgingly. But today (at almost 4.5 years) Alma took one bite and burst into tears. “I don’t like it! I want something from the freezer! I want frozen peas or corn! I want a smoothie bomb!” She was distraught. She didn’t like the cooked tomatoes. She didn’t like the ginger. She didn’t like the spinach. (She generally likes greens but spinach is generally her least favorite green.) She didn’t like that it was all mixed together. I’m sure it didn’t help that the main ingredient was chickpeas. Chickpeas used to be a safe bet, but she hasn’t eaten them the last n times I served them.  She said she was just going to eat plain yogurt for dinner, but eventually threw some plain chickpeas and raw tomatoes into the yogurt as well.

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Grilled Millet and Butternut Squash Cakes (B)

October 12, 2006 at 9:06 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

This recipe is from Rebecca Wood’s The Splendid Grain.

Toast over high heat until the first seed pops:

  • 1 cup millet

then wash, drain and set aside (I skipped the washing step).

Toast for 1 minute, or until aromatic:

  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds (change to 1 Tbs?)
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (change to 2 tsp.?)

Combine in a medium saucepan the millet and spices, and:

  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger (change to 1 Tbs?)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, or until the millet has absorbed all the water. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat the grill. Add to the millet mixture:

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (increase to 3/4 cup?)

Wet your hands and blend the millet mixture to a fairly uniform consistency. Form into 12 cakes. Place on the grill and grill for about 3 minutes on each side until golden. Serve hot.

My Notes

I liked the texture and flavor of these “cakes”, but the flavor is very mild (my coworker snagged one then claimed they tasted like rice cakes). My favorite part was the outside, crispy, browned part. Wood says to grill them or pan-fry, but I baked them on a sprayed cookie sheet. I think if I was going to make this again I’d up all the seasonings a bit. Nonetheless, they’re very low calorie and make a pretty satisfying and healthy snack.

Rating: B

Nutrition Info for 1 Patty (with original ingredients):
Calories 67
Total Fat 1.4g
Saturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 99mg
Carbohydrate 14.4g
Dietary Fiber 1.1g
Sugars 0.6g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A 60% Vitamin C 7%
Calcium 1% Iron 8%

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