04 April 2012

Butter(less) Chickpeas

On Monday morning I got a call from a client, warning that my services would be needed soon. The threat of labor makes me pretty efficient. I filled and ran the dishwasher, cleaned the sink, took the boys grocery shopping, got the groceries put away, fed the boys lunch, emptied the dishwasher, made snack and dinner for the boys, filled the dogs' water, cleaned the dog' ears, and put the flowers in the vase. I spent the rest of Monday at the birth, watching a skilled nurse-midwife facilitate the VBAC my client wanted despite circumstances that might have sent some providers running for the operating room. It was a great birth, the baby was perfect and I'm glad I was there to witness it. But it meant that I didn't get to bed until 2:00 in the morning. When I say that I am a morning person, I do not mean 2:00 in the morning.

A mere five hours later the sun was up and my children were up and my husband was getting ready to leave for work. I had a follow-up scheduled for the afternoon, my regular Tuesday night dinner guests, and an interview in the evening. Oh, and I had the remnants of a cold that would have been kicked if I'd only had a good night's sleep.

As I left my afternoon appointment I texted the usual Tuesday night crew. “Who's coming tonight, and who can bring me a big can of chickpeas?” If you're going to start hosting people on weeknights, I strongly recommend that you choose people who are more than happy to stop at the grocery store on the way to your house. Also choose people who show up 20 minutes early to take your kids to the playground.

While the kids and the very good and patient friends were at the playground, I made Butter Chickpeas. You might remember the butter chicken from my whole wheat naan post. It was delicous, and I recommend it, but when you only buy the expensive chicken, and your husband objects to bone-in chicken, and your older son objects to chicken in all forms, well, it's just not going to be in your weekly repertoire. A week or so ago I dumped some chickpeas into the sauce so older son would have something to eat, and it worked so well I decided to leave the chicken out entirely. If you love butter chicken but are a vegetarian or want to feed a vegetarian or it's a Friday in Lent, give the butter chickpeas a try. If you want to go vegan, try some coconut milk instead of the sour cream.  


Butter Chickpeas
adapted from Dinner with Julie
Serves 6

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
1 teaspoon salt
4-6 cloves garlic
1” piece fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons garam masala (You can mix these around as you prefer/ your pantry allows. I always buy salt free blends.)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 29-ounce can chickpeas
1/2 cup sour cream (or coconut milk for a vegan meal.)

Place a skillet over medium heat.

Halve and thinly slice the onion.

Add the oil to the skillet, then stir in the onion and salt. Cook, stirring occaisionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, mince the garlic and grate the ginger.

When the onions are soft, add the garlic, ginger, and spices to the pan. Stir until fragrant.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste and chickpeas. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes until sauce is the right texture. You can put the lid on and keep it on low heat for quite some time until ready to serve.

Just before serving, add the sour cream and stir to combine. Serve over hot brown rice. Naan optional. 


  1. Ooh, yum. This looks very much like a storecupboard meal for me.

    1. It is quite pantry friendly, so long as one has not forgotten the chickpeas during one's most recent shopping trip.

  2. I seriously don't think I can pick which version I like better. The chickpeas are so good in this sauce. It was delish. And you should let people hire your kids for playground trips for the stress relief. It was so fun!

    1. Chickpeas are a great sub for meat in saucy dishes. They have wonderful texture and flavor. You're welcome to come borrow the kids for stress relief anytime.

  3. Yum. I think I actually like the sound of the chickpea version better! I'm Pinning you. ;)

    1. Is that because of your deep and abiding love of chickpeas or because you have a fear of chicken thighs? Chicken thigh phobia is sadly widespread.

      But if you will come visit I will make the chickpea version. And if you bring your husband I will make the chicken and chickpea version and everyone can be happy.

  4. Made this today. I only used half the chilli powder (because we are spice wusses) and subbed some cumin for the curry powder. It was good, with plenty of heat and flavor, but I feel it lacked an element of sweetness, perhaps. Maybe the original butter would have provided that. Any suggestions? Or will it have mellowed for the second half tomorrow?

    1. The butterless chicken recipe Julie posted included a couple of pinches of cinnamon. I skipped it because both my curry powder and my garam masala had cinnamon. If you're not using the curry powder perhaps you could use some cinnamon. I think just cumin would be too much cumin, maybe

  5. I don't know exactly what's in my garam masala because the jar broke and I transferred it to another. But that's a good point. I'll add some cinnamon when I heat it up tonight (though I know that's not exactly the same as frying the spices... hmm, if I fried some cinnamon in butter and then added the result to the finished product... would that be gross or possibly delicious?)

    1. This is well past any usefulness for you, but I would bet on delicious. Was it?



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