This is actually an adaptation of a delicious chicken tikka masala recipe I got from Cook’s Illustrated. Without the chicken and with chickpeas instead it becomes more like channa masala, so that’s what I’m calling it. I almost completely re-wrote the chicken tikka masala recipe after I made it the first time, quadrupling the garam masala, using tomato paste instead of tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, adjusting the cream, adding more cayenne, etc. (That’s why I have no qualms about re-posting a recipe that you’d have to pay for online—trust me, this version bears relatively little resemblance to the original.) It’s fairly quick and easy, aside from cooking the brown rice, which takes about 45 minutes. If you have chicken legs/thighs (or lamb!) on hand, marinate it in some yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger, then bake it until cooked through and throw it in instead of the chickpeas. (Then it’s chicken tikka masala again…) Either way, this is scrumptious. Makes the house smell amazing too!
2 T. canola oil
1 small onion
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped finely
3-4 T. garam masala
2 t. grated fresh ginger
1 t. cayenne (omit for the faint of heart)
1 t. dried cilantro
3 T. tomato paste
1 1/2 c. water or low salt chicken broth and omit salt
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 c. cooked rice
fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
In a medium saucepan, heat canola oil, then add onion and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add garam masala, ginger, cayenne, cilantro and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Continue stirring and cooking for 2 minutes. Add water, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir in heavy cream and return to a simmer, then add chickpeas. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then serve over rice (long grain brown or basmati). The longer the chickpeas are in the sauce the better they'll be, and the leftovers are excellent the next day.
For a nicer presentation, omit the dried cilantro and send the sauce through a blender before adding the chickpeas. Garnish each plate with fresh cilantro and decorate with a sprinkling of cayenne.