Summer is here. If your summers are anything like mine they are insanely busy. It seems as though I am forever running from here to there, and that leaves so little time to enjoy the warm weather. In Canada summers are short, and where I live they are intense. This one in particular has been warmer than usual, 30 degrees before the humidity seems to be a regular occurrence this year. Between the heat and my lack of time my cooking has taken an unusual path; this week I reached for my slow cooker. In the cooler months my slow cooker makes an appearance at least once a week, but I don’t use it too much once summer hits. This past weekend I was feeling a bit pinched for time, so I decided to make some slow cooker chana masala.
Chana masala is chickpea curry. This one is extremely basic and the prep time is next to nothing. I understand that lots of people think of Indian food as something heavier that is eaten in cooler months. I however like to look at it this way, it’s hot in India and they still eat Indian food, so why shouldn’t I eat it in the summer?
Chana masala is my comfort food. The spices warm me from the inside out, and smooth my frazzled nerves. There is something so inviting about this dish. It feels nourishing both on a physical and on an emotional level. For a lot of people I know their comfort food is mac and cheese, but chana masala is my comfort food of choice. Given how busy things have been lately it was a perfect choice for weeknight dinners.
The amazing thing about this dish is how fast it comes together. There is very little prep work to be done here, which is one of the many reasons that I love this dish so much. I can throw it on in the morning with little fuss, and by dinnertime my house smells like exotic spices and I have a healthy and delicious meal ready. I use a spice blend called gram masala in this recipe. This is different from regular curry powder so you shouldn’t swap one for the other. Gram masala is made from a different blend of spices and is warmer and tends to be milder. If you would like to add heat to this mild dish add some ground cayenne. You will notice that I have used spinach, this you can substitute for other greens if you prefer. I have used kale in the past and it worked out fine, but my preference is still spinach. This recipe does make a fair bit, but it freezes very well. I often have a batch ready to pull out of my freezer for last minute lunches.
4 Fresh, Large Tomatoes
2 TSP Minced Garlic
2 TSBP Gram Masala
.25 TSP Ground Cayenne (more if you want it spicier)
1 Can Coconut Milk
2 Cans Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
2 Cups Spinach
1 TSP Salt
6 Cups Cooked White Rice
1 Bunch Cilantro, Washed and Chopped
Start by washing and chopping your tomatoes into a large dice
Chop the onion into a medium sized dice
Add the tomato, onion, garlic, spices, salt, coconut milk and chickpeas to the slow cooker
Cook on low for 5.5 hours
Add the spinach and cook for another 30 minutes
Serve hot with rice and cilantro