This quick skillet dish is kind of like the faster, vegetarian version of the Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala that I made a few weeks back. It’s a rich tomato sauce spiked with aromatic garam masala, this time poured over chickpeas and potatoes rather than slow cooked chicken. The combination of chickpeas and potatoes is very filling and both do a great job of absorbing those warm Indian spices. I kept this Chana Aloo Masala light by skipping the half and half and topping it with a dollop of Greek Yogurt instead.
There are a couple of fun variations on this recipe that I think would be fantastic, if you want to take it to the next level. Keeping the recipe quick and easy won out for me this time, but if I make it again I’m going to try some of these variations. Frying the potatoes in a skillet before adding them to the sauce (and after boiling) would add a wonderful layer of flavor. Likewise, topping the finished Chana Aloo Masala with fried onions would offer the same sweet/smoky contrast to the acidic tomato sauce. If you want to add a little green, tossing in a handful of frozen peas is a great option as well.
Don’t have any garam masala? No worries. This dish works equally as well with curry powder (although then it would be a potato and chickpea curry, not masala). Use what you’ve got, but be aware that all spice blends are not equal. You may need to use more or less depending on the potency of the blend you have.
Chana Aloo Masala
Chana Aloo Masala (Chickpea and Potato Masala)
- 1 lb russet potato ($0.37)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.24)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.31)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger ($0.14)
- 1 Tbsp garam masala (or to taste) ($0.50)
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes ($1.69)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.12)
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) ($0.02)
- 15 oz can chickpeas ($1.15)
- 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro (optional) ($0.20)
- 6 oz plain yogurt (optional) ($1.09)
- 4 cups cooked rice (optional) ($0.88)
- Peel the potato and cut it into one-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a sauce pot, add enough water to cover the potatoes by one inch, and bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for 5-7 minutes, or until they can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.
- Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and peel and grate the ginger (use a small-holed cheese grater). Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and ginger to a large deep skillet and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent (3-5 minutes).
- Add the garam masala to the skillet and continue to sauté for about a minute more to toast the spices. It's okay if the spices begin to stick to the surface of the skillet slightly, but be sure not to let them burn.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the skillet. Stir to dissolve the tomato paste into the crushed tomatoes and to dissolve the spices off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the sauce to heat through (about five minutes). Taste the sauce and add salt as needed (I added 1/2 tsp salt).
- Drain the chickpeas, then add them to the skillet along with the cooked potatoes. Stir everything to coat in the hot sauce, then heat through. Spoon the Chana Aloo Masala over cooked rice (or serve with naan), topped with chopped cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt (regular or Greek style).
Step by Step Photos
Peel and cut one pound of russet potatoes into one-inch cubes (this was just one large potato for me). Place the cubes in a sauce pot and add water to cover by at least one inch. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 5-7 minutes, or until they can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and set them aside. Cooking the potatoes can be done simultaneously with the following steps, if you’re good at multi-tasking!
Dice one yellow onion, mince two cloves of garlic, and grate about 2 Tbsp of fresh ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater to grate the ginger. For more info, check out my post on How to Cook with Ginger). Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a large deep skillet with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté them over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent (about 3-5 minutes).
Add one tablespoon garam masala to the skillet and continue to sauté for about a minute. This will toast the spices and magnify their flavor. The spices may stick to the surface of the skillet a little, just watch closely and make sure they don’t begin to burn.
The garam masala I had was from the bulk spice bins at Whole Foods and was very fresh and potent. If your spice blend is more subtle, you may want to use more (even up to 2 Tbsp). Or, if you can’t get garam masala, curry powder will also work well with these ingredients.
Add one 28oz. can crushed tomatoes and two tablespoons of tomato paste to the skillet. Stir to dissolve the tomato paste into the crushed tomatoes, and to dissolve any of the spices that were stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
Allow the sauce to heat through. Taste the sauce and add salt as needed. I added 1/2 tsp of salt to balance the tangy sweetness.
Drain one 15oz. can of chickpeas, then add them to the skillet.
Also add the cooked potatoes.
Stir until everything is coated in the luxurious sauce. Allow to heat through.
Top the dish with finely chopped cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt, if desired.
This dish is great served over rice, or with some naan to scoop up the delicious sauce.
Easy, filling, and FULL of bright flavors!