Bill’s 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, To test on plan, 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. It’s a relatively simple curry, but surprisingly tasty. It’s somehow more than the sum of its parts. This curry is very fast and easy to make if you use canned chickpeas and pre-washed spinach.


  • 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.

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.

Derek really loved this dish, and I thought it wasn’t bad.

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.


  1. Carrie said,

    Is it just me, or is this curry missing- curry?

  2. captious said,

    Well, it has cumin, turmeric, ginger, and chilies, which are some of the most common ingredients in a typical curry. It just doesn’t have a pre-mixed curry powder.

  3. Hanaleah said,

    Hi Captious,

    I made Indian food last night and got all three recipes from your blog. This curry was so easy to make. I was really suprised. It also tasted great. I think next time I would use another Chili to make it spicier but that was really my only complaint. I would definatly make this again!

    • captious said,

      That’s very cool that you tried three recipes in one night. That’s a lot of cooking! Thanks for posting your comments.

      Did you use one chili or two? Did you follow the original recipe exactly, with 2 Tbs. of olive oil?

  4. austingardener said,

    I just printed up the recipe.Hanaleah made it over break and we all liked it.
    I will comment after I try it. But just for the record I plan on using turmeric and chilies.

  5. austingardener said,

    I made it last night
    I used 1/2 the garbanzos and the same amounts of everything else.
    Except no peppers(no heat per John)
    Very delicious
    I will make it again fpr sure.

    • captious said,

      Okay, clearly i have to make this recipe again, with half the beans. I haven’t made it in years now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: