This is the best and easiest Chickpea Curry, made in 20 minutes! Creamy, flavor packed and full of plant protein, this will become one of your go-to dinners when you barely have time to cook. The perfect weeknight dinner plus it’s budget friendly!

bowl of white rice and chickpea curry with tomatoes and basil

Chickpea Curry has become one of my favorite meals. It’s super quick to make and packed with flavor! Chickpeas make a wonderful base for curry because they are ready immediately, plus they’re full of plant fiber and protein.

Just like my Chickpea Tikka Masala, this coconut chickpea curry recipe uses canned full fat coconut milk for a creamy curry sauce. And it’s ready in 20 minutes or less!

If you love flavorful plant based curries, make sure to also check out my Roasted Eggplant Curry with Chickpeas.

close up of a bowl of curried beans, tomatoes and basil

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Olive oil – For sautéing, you only need a few tablespoons. May use water/broth for oil free.
  • Onion – A yellow or sweet onion chopped is perfect.
  • Garlic – About 3 cloves minced. Use pre-minced garlic in a jar to skip peeling and chopped it yourself!
  • Mild curry paste – My favorite is Patak’s Mild Curry Paste. It has mellow Indian-inspired spices and adds so much flavor and depth to this curry. May sub with dried spices instead (see recipe or text below -FAQs section).
  • Coconut milk – Full fat canned coconut milk is best here for a creamy vegan chickpea curry. May also sub cashew cream or light coconut milk. Homemade almond or cashew milk would work as well.
  • Chickpeas – I use canned, but you can use from scratch cooked beans as well. Of course you could go a different direction and substitute pan fried tofu or cauliflower.
  • Lime juice – Adds a pop of flavor that would be missed!
  • Salt – To taste.
  • Sugar – Just a teaspoon, to bring out the flavors in the curry.
  • Cherry tomatoes – I love fresh halved cherry tomatoes here, but you could use a can of diced tomatoes (drained), or simply leave them out, if desired.
  • Baby spinach – Optional, but an easy way to add some dark leafy greens to your meal.
  • Fresh basil – For the best flavor, use fresh chopped basil. May omit if needed.
curry paste in a jar with a tablespoon

How to make chickpea and spinach curry

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Sauté the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and stir, cooking for a minute or two.

onions with paste in a pan

Add coconut milk and chickpeas and stir. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often.

chickpeas, cream and other liquid in a pan

Lastly, stir in the lime juice, salt to taste, sugar, tomatoes, spinach and chopped basil. Cook for a minute or so, until the spinach wilts. That’s it!

Meal prep

This is the perfect meal prep recipe, because it lasts for several days and reheats well. Divide into containers with rice and refrigerate for 4-5 days. When it’s time to eat, simply reheat in the microwave until warm. Alternatively, warm on the stovetop in a small pan.

Variations

  • More vegetables – Feel free to add more veggies to the mix, such as cauliflower florets, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato or kale.
  • Use light coconut milk or cashew cream instead of full fat coconut milk.
  • Add a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained) instead of fresh tomatoes.
  • For a thicker curry, add cornstarch slurry at the end until thickened. Stir 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/4 cup water, then stir it in to thicken.
a pan with a curry, spinach and tomatoes being added

Frequently asked questions

  1. Is chickpea curry the same as chana masala? This curry is not the same as chana masala, which is an authentic Indian dish consisting of chickpeas in a heavily spiced tomato sauce. My chickpea curry is inspired by Indian flavors, but is different than chana masala because there is no tomato sauce, it’s a creamy coconut curry base.
  2. Can I used homemade chickpeas? Of course! I just use canned beans for convenience, but if you love to cook beans from scratch at home, go for it!
  3. What can I use instead of curry paste? I love curry paste in this particular recipe, but if you must use dried spices, you can. I suggest 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  4. Can I make chickpea curry in the Instant Pot? Yes. Sauté the onion, garlic and curry paste in the inner pot first, then add the coconut milk and chickpeas and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Do a manual release, carefully, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
  5. How about a crock pot? Sure! Cook for 7 hours on low or 3-4 on high. Stir in the last ingredients right before it’s done.
  6. Does it freeze well? It freezes very well. Transfer to a freezer friendly ziplock bag or small containers and freeze. To reheat, use the microwave or cook in a small pot until warm.

Serving suggestions

Serve this easy curry with basmati rice, vegan naan and perhaps another vegetable side, such as steamed kale.

I also like a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and sometimes some chopped peanuts or cashews on top.

bowl of vegan chickpea curry with tomatoes and basil

Want more quick and easy vegan dinners?

See my collection of 30-minute-or-less dinners. These are a few of my favorite fast weeknight meals:

square image of curry in a bowl with rice

20 Minute Chickpea Curry Recipe

This is the best and easiest Chickpea Curry, made in 20 minutes! Creamy, flavor packed and full of plant protein, this will become one of your go-to dinners when you barely have time to cook. The perfect weeknight dinner plus it's budget friendly!
5 stars (22 ratings)

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cups baby spinach, sliced into ribbons or thrown in whole
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil

For Serving:

  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • lime wedges, chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lime juice, salt to taste, sugar, tomatoes, spinach and chopped basil. Cook for a minute until the spinach has wilted.
  • Serve with rice and/or Easy Vegan Naan. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. You may use full fat or light coconut milk here. Full fat coconut milk will obviously make the dish creamier and richer, but both are good options. Or sub cashew cream, or even a plant based unsweetened milk, such as cashew or soy milk.
  2. The kind of curry paste you use will make all the difference here, so make sure to use a good quality brand. I love Patak’s Mild Curry Paste.
  3. Don’t have curry paste? Substitute 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and sauté along with the garlic, adding oil if needed to de-glaze the pan.
  4. Add more vegetables: Sometimes I like to add more vegetables, such as diced sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini or broccoli. Add these kinds of vegetables when you add the coconut milk and chickpeas, and cook until tender. Or add a few handfuls of baby spinach or kale at the end of cooking, until they wilt.
  5. Instant Pot: Use the sauté feature to cook the onion, garlic and curry paste, then add the coconut milk and chickpeas. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes, then carefully release any pressure, stir in the remaining ingredients and serve.
  6. Slow cooker: In a pan on the stove, sauté the onion, garlic and curry paste. Then transfer to a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours.
  7. It will last for 4-5 days in the refrigerator, and freezes well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 197kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 4mg, Potassium: 108mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1181IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg

*This post was last updated October 2021. It was first published July 2019.

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