Curried Chickpeas and Peanuts

Curried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and peanuts is one of our favorite foods. The recipe is pretty flexible — I am writing the rough contours here, but you can always add or subtract ingredients to suit your preferences.

This dish can be made in either the crock pot or on the stove. We tend to like the stovetop version better. It requires a fair amount of forethought due to the bean prep, and about 15 minutes of prep for the crock pot and 30-60 minutes of prep & cooking for the stove.

I haven't indicated quantities on most of these ingredients. Again, this is flexible! Put together a quantity of food that seems right, and adjust the spices to taste. I have yet to have it come out terribly.

  • Garbanzo beans, either dried or canned; we use a full 1lb bag in the crock pot, half a bag on the stove
  • Peanuts (we use lightly-salted roasted peanuts; raw peanuts work as well)
  • Jalapeño, chopped finely
  • Onion, chopped
  • ½ block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • Broccoli (frozen is fine)
  • Salt
  • Curry spices
  • Vegetable (or other) stock (can be omitted — we make good curry just with the milk for liquid)
  • Milk-like substance (we have had good success with unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk)

Additional ingredients such as hot oriental peppers, shallots, cashews, and whatever else sounds good work nicely.

Bean Prep

Soak the garbanzo beans for several hours or overnight.

Rinse beans.

If you will be cooking the curry on the stove, cook the garbanzos and peanuts. I usually cook them together in a pressure cooker, using the instructions for garbanzos.

If you will be using a crock pot, no further prep is necessary.

Curry Spices

Use the ones you like ☺. Note that the generic curry powder you can get in U.S. grocery stores is often about as bland as possible. The ingredient list of both the HEB bulk curry powder and the McCormick's is coriander, cumin, and turmeric. These are all useful spices in curry, but are a pretty boring combination.

Also note that ‘curry’ is not a particular kind of spice. All the word really means is ‘sauce’; in the west, it has come to mean a family of Asian spice blends. There are, however, many different kinds of curry spice blends that are wildly different! Different regions of India have their own typical blends, which are different from Sri Lankan curry, which is different from Thai curries, and so forth.

I have found Spice Trekkers' Madras curry to be a good ‘typical’ blend. Their Singapore curry blend is also excellent, but I don't know that I would use it for this dish. You can also likely find good blends at an Asian food store, or possibly the Asian food section of a supermarket.

These days, I am making my own curry blend, inspired by Spice Trekkers' blends. I start by making a base blend with the following spices:

  • Coriander
  • White pepper
  • Small amount of mixed peppercorns
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Mustard seed
  • Grains of paradise
  • Ground cayenne pepper (for heat)

I work with whole spices, grinding them in a mortar & pestle.

When seasoning, I use the base blend along with ground turmeric (a generous quantity — it is what's responsible for the yellow color typical of many Indian curries that have made their way to North America) and paprika.

The heat level of the final dish depends greatly on how much spice is used, as well as additional added peppers. Crock pot curry tends to be less spicy.

I've been learning how to blend & use spices from The Golden Rules of Spices. I highly recommend this book.

Crock Pot Cooking

Put all ingredients except tofu in the slow cooker. If the beans are already cooked (e.g. canned), leave it on low all day; if they are not cooked, cook on high for a few hours.

Add tofu towards the end of the day, and continue cooking until warmed. Taste & consider adding more seasonings.

This is probably best as a half-day crock-pot recipe, as cooking it all day tends to resulting a relatively mushy final product. It's still good, we just prefer a bit more firmness to the beans.

Stovetop Cooking

Cover bottom of large skillet (e.g. cast iron) with olive oil. Add curry spices or base spice blend and begin to heat, toasting the spices.

Add cooked beans, nuts, and liquids, and bring to a simmer. Add turmeric, paprika, and salt. Stir occasionally.

While it's simmering, cut up onions, jalapeño, shallots, and whatever else, and add.

Finally, cut, press, and add the tofu. Add additional spices as needed to taste.

We generally simmer it for about 30–45 minutes. When it's all vegetables and the beans are pre-cooked, there aren't safety issues, so you just have to heat it to temperature and let the flavors blend nicely.