This is the best chickpea spinach curry recipe made with simple ingredients, basic pantry spices and it only takes 20 minutes. Perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner!
This recipe is suitable for vegans and plant-based dieters, and is packed with flavor, protein, and iron while being low in calories.
While it’s not an authentic Indian recipe by any means, it’s an Indian-style curry that’s been simplified for people who don’t have a wide variety of spices in their pantry and need a quick and easy dinner recipe.
This recipe is also great for vegan meal prep as it keeps well in the fridge and also freezer and thaws beautifully.
Chickpea curry without coconut milk
As much as I love coconut milk, sometimes I just don’t feel like a creamy curry and I’m often asked how to make coconut-free curry.
Since the majority of google searches for chickpea curry return results with coconut milk, I set out to create a recipe that can be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t like coconut or can’t eat it due to allergy.
(I noticed the same with lentil curry recipes and also created a coconut-free red lentil curry.)
This chickpea spinach recipe is also free from gluten, tree nuts, dairy, soy, and animal products.
Ingredients you’ll need
While Indian curry recipes are insanely delicious and complexly flavored, we don’t all have the long list of exotic spices called for in a lot of recipes.
In the interest of making this chickpea spinach curry recipe simple and accessible, I call for just a couple spice mixes that are readily available in any supermarket.
Neutral oil: A neutral oil is one that does not have a strong flavor. Sunflower, canola, vegetable or avocado oil are good choices. Avoid olive oil for this recipe.
Onion, garlic, ginger: The flavour base of this curry begins with finely diced aromatics.
Chili pepper: You can make this curry as hot or as mild as you like by adjusting the amount and variety of chili pepper you use. I use just a basic jalapeño, since that’s all I have access too. You can use and Asian chili variety and add as much or as little as your tolerance for spicy food allows.
Spices: This recipe calls for three basic spiced: curry powder, garam masala and cumin. Every brand mixes their spices differently and I suggest finding high-quality ones that don’t use a lot of cheap filler spices like fennel, cumin and chili powder. The garam masala I use is not spicy at all.
Tomato paste: The addition of tomato paste makes this a thick and rich curry that sticks wonderfully to the rice. It also adds a bit of sweetness to counteract the acidity of the diced tomatoes.
Diced tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes are great when fresh tomatoes are not in season. They add a burst of juiciness to the curry. You can substitute for fresh tomatoes if you’re making this in the summer.
Vegetable stock: Vegetable stock adds more flavor and dissolved the tomato paste to form the base of the sauce.
Chickpeas: For convenience this recipe uses canned chickpeas. Be sure to drain and rinse canned chickpeas before use. To make this recipe more budget-friendly, you can cook dried chickpeas from scratch and add them to the curry.
Spinach: I use larger, mature spinach from this recipe instead of the more expensive baby spinach. Personally, I think baby spinach is better saved for salads. You can also use frozen spinach instead of fresh. No need to thaw it first, just drop it in after adding the vegetable stock and allow it to simmer in the curry.
Salt: I added half a teaspoon but it’s a good idea to taste the curry before adding salt since different brands of vegetable stock will have more or less sodium.
How to make chickpea spinach curry
This chickpea spinach curry recipe is super easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes!
Prep: This recipe has minimal prep. Just dice an onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. If you don’t want your curry to be too spicy you can remove the seeds from the chili pepper. Also drain and rinse the chickpeas, and rinse and chop the spinach.
Fry: Start by frying the aromatics in oil over medium heat until they are translucent and tender.
Spices: Add the curry powder and cumin. Frying them with the aromatics allows their full flavor to come out. Be sure to stir them frequently so that they don’t burn. There’s nothing worse than bitter spices!
Add the tomatoes and chickpeas: Next add the tomato paste and give it a few minutes to cook out. It will darken slightly in color. Then add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and vegetable stock.
Once the pan comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the spinach and stir it in. Allow to simmer until the spinach has wilted into the curry - just a couple minutes.
Final spices and seasonings: Add the garam masala and salt. It’s always a good idea to taste the curry before adding salt since some vegetable stocks are saltier than others.
Finally, turn off the heat and stir through some fresh chopped cilantro and serve your curry over rice or with naan.
Substitutions and variations
Other vegetables: You can add in other finely-diced veggies like cauliflower, peas, or potato. In order for them to cook through, add them after the onions and give them a couple minutes to soften.
Grains: Instead of white rice rice, serve this chickpea spinach curry over brown rice or quinoa.
Spinach and tomatoes: You can substitute the fresh spinach for frozen spinach. Add a few cubes of frozen spinach along with the chickpeas, no need to thaw first, it will thaw as the curry simmers. If tomatoes are in season, swap the diced canned tomatoes for fresh.
Make it creamy: If you prefer creamy curries, you can add some coconut milk or cashew cream made from blending cashews and water. It’s not a good idea to boil coconut milk so add it at the end.
Sugar: If you find your canned tomatoes to be a little too acidic, you can add a pinch of sugar to help balance it out and enhance the flavors.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are very healthy and an important component of your diet. They’re high in fibre (and most people are deficient), protein and folate. While canned chickpeas are often packed in salt water, you can reduce the sodium content significantly by simply rinsing them.
Yes, canned chickpeas are cooked and ready to use.
Chickpea curry is very healthy; it’s high in fibre, protein, iron, and many vitamins while being low in fat and calories. Because this chickpea spinach curry doesn’t have full-fat coconut milk, it’s low in saturated fat.
Yes, this vegan chickpea curry is gluten free.
Yes, chickpea spinach curry can be made in the Instant Pot. First sauté the onion, ginger, garlic and chili pepper. Stir in the curry powder, cumin and tomato paste and fry for a couple minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and stock. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release the pressure then stir in the spinach, garam masala, fresh cilantro and salt.
To make this recipe in a slow cooker, start by sautéing the onion, ginger, garlic, chili pepper and spices in a pan over medium heat. Add these to the slow cooker along with the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, stock, and chickpeas. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. Once cooked, add the spinach, garam masala, fresh cilantro and salt.
What to serve with chickpea spinach curry
Rice: Basmati rice is the go-to for Indian-style curries but you can use any type of rice that you have on hand. If you don’t want rice, try quinoa or cauliflower rice instead.
Bread: Naan is perfect for dipping in this chickpea spinach curry. You can make vegan naan at home by using vegan yogurt and vegan butter.
Storage and reheating tips
How long does curry last in the fridge?
Store curry in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.
Can you freeze chickpea curry?
Yes, this chickpea curry is great for freezing. Store in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 6 months.
How to reheat curry
To reheat frozen curry, first allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight.
Refrigerated curry can be transferred to a microwave-safe bowl and reheated in the microwave. You can also transfer the curry to a pot and reheat it on the stove over medium heat.
Chickpea Spinach Curry
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 - 2 spicy green chili peppers minced (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can (15 oz / 425 grams) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (15 oz / 425 grams) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable stock
- 1 ½ packed cups (45 grams) chopped spinach
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until soft and transparent - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chili pepper and fry for another couple of minutes until soft.
- Add the curry powder and cumin and fry, stirring continuously, for about a minute to bring out the flavors.
- Add the tomato paste and stir well. Fry for about 2 minutes until the tomato paste darkens in color slightly.
- Add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a gently simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes to heat the chickpeas through.
- Stir in the spinach and allow it to wilt. Stir in the garam masala and salt and cook for another minute to allow the flavors to meld.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.