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Sweet and Sour Chana Saag

Recipe by The Spiced Life
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian
Keyword sour
Author TheSpicedLife


For chickpeas:

  • 3 cups dried chickpeas
  • water to cover by 2 inches, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t salt

For curry:

  • 5 T grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 T dark mustard seeds
  • 1 T urad dal, split and skinned
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 25 curry leaves
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t paprika
  • 2 T ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 T amchur powder
  • 3 large mangoes, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T tamarind concentrate
  • chickpeas with cooking liquid
  • 1 9-oz box of frozen chopped spinach, NOT squeezed dry
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 T garam masala, to taste
  • juice of one lime, or lemon


  1. To make the curry, heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the grapeseed oil with the mustard seeds and cover the pot. Let the seeds pop--when they slow down, add the urad dal and stir. Roast for a minute or so and then add the cumin seeds and curry leaves (be careful--the curry leaves will splatter!). Continue stirring and let roast until the cumin seeds and urad dal are a shade or 2 darker and fragrant. Do not let the cumin seeds burn.
  2. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Toss into the spices and caramelize for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the onions start to scorch or stick, add about a quarter cup of water and let it cook off, scraping the pan clean. When the onions are brown, add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, paprika, ground coriander, cumin and amchur powder. Add another pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the tomatoes, mangoes and tamarind concentrate. Stir into the onions and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, to concentrate flavors. Add the cooked chickpeas with their cooking liquid and aromatics. Add the spinach (I don't even bother defrosting) and cilantro. Stir into the vegetables until the spinach is defrosted and mixed into the curry. Bring to a simmer and let simmer quite gently for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours. Before serving, add 2 tablespoons of garam masala and the juice of 1 lime. Check for more salt, lime juice or garam masala.
  4. Serve with flatbread or basmati rice, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. I also serve with red chile pepper flakes on the side for those who like things hot.