Palak Chana (or chickpea and spinach curry) is an incredibly satisfying and rich curry. It’s a great freezer meal, as well as packing in the flavour. With tender chickpeas, a tomato-rich gravy and earthy wilted spinach, it’s bound to be a winner. Great served with vegan roti and pilau rice.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Curry addicts – so, we love curry! It’s about time we added a palak chana to our repertoire. We know a lot about curries – just check out some of our most popular recipes to see what other curries we make. Vegan Butter Chicken, Red Lentil Dhal, Eggplant and Cauliflower Curry, Aubergine Curry and even a Vegetable Bhuna, to name just a few.
- Two perfect curry ingredients – Chickpeas and spinach are a match made in curry heaven. Spinach (AKA palak or saag), and chickpeas (AKA chana or chole) – are two staple ingredients that pack in not only essential nutrients but a lot of protein too.
- Simple spice mix – Cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic and ginger powder make for an amazing palak chana. It’s a simple mix but delivers a richness of flavour. A little chilli heat pairs perfectly with the more floral coriander and intense cumin. And with a strong curry base, featuring onions, garlic and ginger, this palak chana can’t go wrong!
- Quick – as far as curry goes, this is quite a quick one! With just a 20 minute simmer time, the chickpeas will become perfectly tender, the gravy will become perfectly rich and delicious and you won’t have to wait too long before your dinner is on the table. Plus, there’s minimal prep too.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Chickpeas – this palak chana uses white chickpeas which are known as chana. The chana that we use are tinned, so they’re already cooked. Therefore the short simmer time (just 20 minutes) cooks them until tender. If using dried chickpeas you should cook them according to packet instructions first.
- Spinach – we use baby spinach for this chickpea and spinach curry. Add them in at the end, and the heat can even be switched off (to save on those energy bills!). And the leaves will easily wilt into the palak chole, solely from the residual heat. We haven’t shredded the leaves before adding, but this can be an option if you would prefer. Alternatively, you can also use frozen spinach, but you’ll need to keep the heat on to make sure it defrosts and the curry is still piping hot for serving.
- Passata – using passata is a curry hack that we always come back to. Tinned tomatoes are great for a curry that ends up with a more chunky sauce. However, the passata creates a silky smooth final sauce. That’s because the blended and strained tomatoes in the passata don't have any chunks, so overall helps to make a silkier gravy. Having said that, tinned chopped tomatoes do still work well. It’s just a preference thing!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this palak chana recipe.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making a chickpea and spinach curry. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. In a large saucepan or heavy bottomed pan, heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Fry the onion for 5 minutes until they soften and start to brown.
2. Pop in the garlic and ginger. Stir for another minute.
3. Next, sprinkle over the spices and fry for another two more minutes until fragrant.
4. Pour in the passata and coconut milk. Bring up to the boil.
5. Add in the chickpeas, then reduce to a simmer. Keep it gently bubbling for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then, to make sure it’s not sticking. Lid off – to allow the gravy to thicken. Season with salt to taste.
6. Finally add the spinach (a bit at a time if needed) and gradually fold and stir into the curry. If you keep gently stirring, it doesn’t even need to be on the heat. The residual temperature will allow the spinach to wilt into the curry seamlessly.
7. Palak Chana is great serve with your favourite sides, our include aubergine bhaji, mushroom bhaji or naan bread.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Spice it up – this palak chana includes just half a teaspoon of chilli powder to make it mild and approachable, but feel free to add more chilli powder if you’d like it to be a bit more fiery!
- Lighten it up – switch out the coconut milk for light coconut milk to reduce the saturated fat content – it won't be quite as creamy, but it still works great.
- Storage – palak chana keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure to reheat until piping hot before eating.
- Freezing – chickpea and spinach curry is a great freezer meal. This recipe is for four portions but easily scales up. Just use the sliding tab in the recipe card below and you could easily make 8 or 12 portions at once – if your pan is big enough!
Yes, chickpea and spinach curry freezes well. Palak chana is actually great for meal prep or for freezer meals. Just defrost and reheat it when you want a nice easy meal that’s homemade but requires no cooking!
First of all, canned chickpeas are technically already cooked – compared to dried chickpeas, which need to be soaked and boiled before adding to a dish. However, for best results, cook canned chickpeas in a sauce for around 20 minutes, that way they will be delicious and tender. Just how I like them!
🍚 Serving suggestions
🍛 More recipes to try
We've featured some of our favourite curries below, but you can find even more inspiration in our list of the best vegan Indian dishes ever.
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- 1 onion – chopped
- 4 garlic – minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger – minced
- 0.5 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon turmeric
- 375 ml coconut milk
- 375 ml tomato passata
- 480 g chickpeas – drained and rinsed (800g before draining)
- 200 g baby spinach
- In a large saucepan or heavy bottomed pan, heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Fry the onion for 5 minutes until they start to brown.1 onion
- Pop in the garlic and ginger. Stir for another minute.4 garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger
- Next, sprinkle over the spices and fry for another two more minutes until fragrant.0.5 teaspoon chilli powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 2 teaspoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoon turmeric
- Pour in the passata and coconut milk. Bring up to the boil.375 ml coconut milk, 375 ml tomato passata
- Add in the chickpeas, then reduce to a simmer. Keep it gently bubbling for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then, to make sure it’s not sticking (pan depending). Lid off – to allow the gravy to thicken.480 g chickpeas
- Season with salt to taste.
- Finally add the spinach (a bit at a time if needed) and gradually fold and stir into the curry. If you keep gently stirring, it doesn’t even need to be on the heat. The residual temperature will allow the spinach to wilt into the curry seamlessly.200 g baby spinach
- This curry is mild. Double the chilli powder to make it a little spicier!
- Use light coconut milk to reduce the saturated fat content.
- Freezes well for up to 3 months. Refrigerate for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Add 200g cauliflower with the chickpeas for an option with more vegetables.
Just trying this now. I'm making 2 servings and using canned spinach, so it will be my fault if it ends in tears! You say chilli powder: do you mean powdered chilli or the blend they use in USA? I assumed the former and am using cayenne, but I reckon it will have plenty of heat (I like chilli) - I did chuck in an additional pickled green chilli. I usually use chilli flakes if I want to tone it down a little (for friends) 🙂. But maybe you could make it a little clearer what type of chilli you intended?
I love the way you do the reminder of ingredients for each instruction - it saves a lot of scrolling up and down. Great blog. Thank you.
Jess & Dan
Hey Annie, I'd love to know how it turned out! We just buy standard chilli powder (there's nothing more specific than that), it's not a blend, it's just called 'Chilli Powder' on the jar where we buy it in the supermarket in England. If we use specific chilli powders such as ancho or cayenne, we always specify. Glad that you like the reminder in each step of the instructions! We hoped that would be helpful. Jess 😊
Super easy and versatile. I tend to make this on Sundays and chuck in any leftover veg too. Then we have dinner ready on Monday after work with no effort!
Jess & Dan
What a perfect setup! So glad you like this one Katy x