Confession: I never used to like Indian food. Or Thai food, or sushi, or anything except what I was used to eating growing up. The most exotic we ever got in my house was ordering from our local Chinese takeout place down the road. Regarding Indian food, it was a texture thing – I love crisp, crunchy, and drier-leaning foods, so the curries and stews of Indian cuisine didn’t really appeal to me. But I didn’t have my first real experience with it until college, when my friend and his boyfriend asked me if I wanted to order Indian takeout with them. I refrained, imagining those soup-y curries. But when their takeout finally came in, it smelled AMAZING. A tantalizing mix of spices I couldn’t identify, subtle hints of heat on the air mixed with the fragrant scent of basmati rice.
I thought of that experience while I was developing this recipe, sautéing the onions and garlic with the tomatoes, mixing in the curry powder with the cumin and turmeric. The smell coming out of my kitchen was incredible.
It got me to thinking about trying new things and experiencing other cuisines. Food is such an AMAZING gateway to another culture. And if you dive deeper into the history behind various cuisines, you’ll learn even more. For example, the use of spices in India is connected to the Ayurveda, a system of medicine thousands of years old, and the Spice Trade between the East in the West. Kerala, known as the “Spice Garden of India”, was actually the place Columbus was trying to reach in his travels.
But I digress. I maintain that the best way to learn about the world is through traveling, but that’s a something that’s not always available to all people. Next best thing? Trying new foods from different countries or cultures. So if you’ve never tried Indian food before, take it from a former skeptic – you’re going to love this vegan chana masala!
Warming Vegan Chana Masala
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion diced
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic minced
- 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
- 1 Can Chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock
- Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
- 1 1/2 Tsp Curry Powder
- 1 Tsp Turmeric
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Tsp Salt
- Pinch Cayenne
- Small Handful of Cilantro chopped
- Basmati Rice for Serving optional
Bring a large soup pot to medium heat. Add in the diced sweet onion with a drizzle of olive oil, and sauté until onions are soft - about 7-10 minutes.
Then, add in the minced cloves of garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Be sure to watch the garlic so it doesn't brown!
Then, add in the diced tomatoes and sauté for another 1-2 minutes, so the flavors can really meld.
Add in the vegetable stock, chickpeas, lemon juice, spices, and cilantro, and bring to a simmer.
Simmer chana masala for 5-10 minutes, so the flavors can meld together.
When done, serve in bowls over basmati rice (if desired).
Quote of the Day:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.