Honestly, some of the best meals are made from throwing together various things in the refrigerator that just need to be eaten up! This recipe is a result of just that, and it is just as flavorful and comforting as all can be.
I love cooking Indian-inspired dishes because I almost always have onions and tomatoes on hand, along with a majority of the necessary spices. It’s so easy to make a simple masala sauce, and you can put almost anything your heart desires into it, whether that be tofu, beans, or veggies! The versatility of Indian food is what I absolutely live for. I have made it so many times, it has become a no-brainer dish that I can easily throw together while using up essentially anything I have in the refrigerator.
On the other hand, the cauliflower mash was truly inspired by my reluctancy and laziness towards making rice. Plus I had a head of cauliflower that needed to be used up before going bad and stinking up my entire refrigerator, so there it is.
How to Make Indian-Inspired Chickpeas with Cauliflower Mash
Time to tap into your spice cabinet and make this dish as it is:
Prepare your ingredients
This recipe is heavy on spices, but it’s actually pretty simple when it comes to whole ingredients. The first thing you’ll want to do is prep all of your ingredients. This includes onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and cilantro. To prep my onions, I cut them into quarters and then placed them in the food processor. I pulsed the processor at high speed until the onions were chopped in a uniformly small size. Processing for too long will create a puree, which is good in some creamier dishes, but for this dish, texture from the onion is nice, especially when it’s placed on top of an already-creamy cauliflower mash. Place the onions in a separate bowl, clean out the food processor and follow the same method for the tomatoes, pulsing them just before they form a puree. Strain out some of the liquid from the tomatoes, and set them aside. Clean out the processor once again, and add the garlic, ginger and cilantro. Process on high speed until a paste forms, and set aside.
I love using my food processor! It saves me so much time, while also being easy to use and clean. It is quiet and powerful, and I can’t believe I went so long without it. It’s truly a game changer and I think it’s one of the most helpful tools one can have in their kitchen arsenal.
If you don’t have a food processor, that’s okay! You can still make this deliciously flavorful goodness. Instead of tossing everything in a processor, just dice up your onions and tomatoes, and finely mince the garlic, ginger, and cilantro(or use a mortar and pestle for these three ingredients – if you have one!)
Fry the whole spices
In order to enhance the bright and fresh aromas of the whole cumin seeds and bay leaf, fry them in the heated oil for 2-3 minutes, until they sizzle and become fragrant. Frying whole spices helps to maintain the original flavor, while simultaneously making them more bold and intense. This is such a crucial step and will really make the flavors of the dish pop!
Bay leaves are fairly common, however, if you can’t get your hands on cumin seeds, skip this step and add 1 additional teaspoon of cumin when adding the remaining ground spices.
Make the chickpea masala
Once the whole spices have been fried and become fragrant, it’s time to assemble the chickpea masala, which includes the prepped ingredients mentioned above, a combination of ground spices, and of course, chickpeas. Start with the onions and fry them with the whole spices for about 10 minutes, or until they become soft and turn a slightly brownish color. Make sure to stir this often as it cooks to ensure that nothing burns.
Once this is complete, add the ginger, garlic, and cilantro paste to the same pan, mix it up and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes.
The next layer of flavor comes from the addition of the ground spices, which get evenly incorporated and cooked for another couple of minutes until fragrant.
Once fragrant, add the chopped tomatoes, and two cans of unstrained chickpeas to the pan. Mix it up, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. You will know it’s done when it reaches a thick, stew-like consistency and the tomatoes have cooked down and released their moisture. If the mixture looks too dry, feel free to add a splash of veggie broth or water to loosen it up. If the mixture looks too wet, remove the lid while it’s cooking and allow it to reduce.
Make the cauliflower mash
This is my favorite addition to the recipe because it’s so simple and hearty! All it consists of is a head of cauliflower, vegan butter(or oil), onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil, and add the chopped cauliflower in until it is completely submerged in the water. Allow the cauliflower to cook for about 15 minutes until it is soft and can be easily mashed with a fork. Strain the water, and transfer cauliflower to a food processor or blender. Add the butter, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt, and blend away! If you are blending while the cauliflower is still hot, make sure to leave the lid slightly askew, so the steam can escape. Blend until the cauliflower is smooth, creamy, and fluffy.
The cauliflower mash is completely optional. In its place, you could use rice or any other grain you choose. The chickpea masala is wonderful even when eaten on its own, so the base is completely up to you.
Garnish the chickpeas and cauliflower mash with fresh cilantro, chili flakes, and a couple of wedges of fresh lime! This dish is perfect on cold evenings or just a night when you need some wholesome comfort food. This dish pairs well with a side of samosas, and/or alongside some creamy tofu tikka masala, for a full-on Indian-inspired feast.
This dish works great for meal prepping, as it can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator. It could also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months, making it the perfect dish to pull out as your appetite calls for it.
If you were feelin’ spicy and made this recipe, I’d love to hear about how it turned out!
Indian-Inspired Chickpeas with Cauliflower Mash
- Food Processor, Blender or Mortar and Pestle
- 2 cans chickpeas (reserve the juice from the can)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 inch ginger
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric cumin & crushed red pepper
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- Pinch of of asafoetida & cinnamon
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped
- 2 tbsp butter (or oil)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Heat oil in a large pan.
- Add the cumin seeds & bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until they soften/turn slightly brown(but not burnt).
- Create a paste with the ginger, garlic & cilantro(use a food processor, blender or mortar & pestle). Add to the onions & cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the dry spices & cook until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes & chickpeas(along with the juice from the can), cover & cook for 20-30 minutes until it reaches a stew or chili-like consistency.
- In the mean time, add the chopped cauliflower to a pot of boiling water & cook for about 15 mins.
- Once the cauliflower is soft, add it to a food processor with the butter and spices. Processes until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Add the cauliflower and chickpeas to a bowl, garnish with limes, fresh cilantro & red pepper flakes