Better-than-takeout creamy tomato chickpea and cauliflower masala from Smitten Kitchen Keepers – a richly spiced curry that’s easy to make at home even on busy nights.
Creamy Tomato Chickpea and Cauliflower Masala

In today’s edition of The Winter That Never Ends, it is March 14th and we are getting our FIRST snow of the year.

As I say (literally) daily: I quit. (Usually screamed in a fit of rage after one or both of my children has done something so egregious that resigning as a parent feels like the only logical option.)

But then I’ll do what I always do, which is pick myself back up by my bootstraps and make dinner.

Creamy Tomato Chickpea and Cauliflower Masala

Curry is a favorite at any time of year but especially at that point of winter when I feel like I will go crazy if there is even one more second of one more day with a temperature below freezing. The spices lift my spirits in a way that is matched only by ice cream (ironically) and feel almost like eating a warm hug.

Since I’ve made it my life’s mission to try every version of anything butter masala-esque that’s out there I pretty much ran to the kitchen when I saw this recipe for creamy tomato chickpea masala in Smitten Kitchen Keepers, the latest cookbook triumph by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen fame. Because I know someone will be mad about this – no, it’s not particularly authentic and ends up as kind of a mash-up between channa masala and makhani chole (butter chickpeas).

That being said: it gets the job done, in one pot, and with ingredients I almost always have on hand. AND it is really delicious with a well-balanced depth of flavors. Can’t argue with that.

Creamy Tomato Chickpea and Cauliflower Masala

While the original recipe calls only for chickpeas, Deb mentions in the headnote that her husband loves it best with a half chickpea/half cauliflower adjustment. Since I am always looking to include more vegetables in our day and happened to be one can of chickpeas short with a head of cauliflower languishing in my fridge when I went to make this, I made the alternative version. That being said, if you want to keep this as a wholly pantry-based meal you can omit the cauliflower and just add in an extra can of chickpeas.

The recipe is pretty standard as far as making curries goes. Onion, garlic, and ginger are sauteed in ghee or butter until tender and aromatic. A slew of spices are added to the pan and cooked until lightly toasted. Next come the tomatoes and tomato paste, which form the base of the sauce, and are simmered with the spices (and cauliflower, if using) to allow the flavors to meld together and sing in harmony. Chickpeas are added for the last ten minutes of cooking so that they absorb a bit of the sauce’s flavor and soften in the hot liquid. The pan is finished with a drizzle of heavy cream and this heady, lush dish is then served over rice or with naan (or both!) if you’re feeling so inclined.

Creamy Tomato Chickpea and Cauliflower Masala

Creamy Tomato Chickpea and Cauliflower Masala
Better-than-takeout creamy tomato chickpea and cauliflower masala from Smitten Kitchen Keepers - a richly spiced curry that's easy to make at home even on busy nights.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 3 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced or grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1¾ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2-4 tbsp heavy cream
  • cooked rice or naan, for serving
  1. Heat ghee or butter in a large pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through and starting to brown at the edges. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Saute for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  2. To the pan add 1 tsp salt, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and kashmiri chili powder. Saute for 2 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan to release anything that is stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in another 1.5 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until saucy, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup water and cauliflower. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tbsp heavy cream. Season to taste. Divide among serving bowls and drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp heavy cream over the top of each bowl. Serve with rice or naan, as desired.


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3 Responses to Creamy Tomato Chickpea and Cauliflower Masala

  1. Sarah Frost says:

    This was the first recipe I tried out of Deb’s new cookbook. SO good!

  2. Pam says:

    My mouth started watering as I read the title for this one. It sounds & LOOKS SO tasty and comforting.

  3. This is the perfect dish to make during the weekday when you’re feeling burnt out and in need of serious comfort. I for one love the idea of subbing cauliflower for some of the chickpeas as I love cauliflower.

    We’re having bitter-cold weather and I am done with it. If I could have the snow and get a snow day I’d be all for it, but if there’s no snow day then spring needs to come on.

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