Chickpea Stew with Coconut Milk, Spinach and Turmeric

(jump to recipe)

Ever since Alison Roman’s “The Stew” became all the rage on Instagram last year (have you made her cookies “The Cookies” yet?) I have been obsessed with this stew. I’ve made it several times with my own tweaks and updates, and verbally shared the recipe with many. I also typed up my version of the recipe for my mom few months ago, when I should have just written this post to make it easier to share.

Because, The Stew is absolutely worth sharing and making, and making again! It is so nourishing, indulgent, warm and satisfying, not to mention easy, quick enough for a weeknight and do you see how gorgeous? Over the past year, I’ve made it with canned vs home-cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), with canned vs boxed (lite) coconut milk, in chicken broth vs vegetable broth vs water, with kale vs spinach vs chard, and inhaled it with grilled naan, or basmati rice, or just by itself. It is vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, and definitely one of the best things I’ve learnt to make from Instagram.

The original recipe comes from the New York Times (by Alison Roman, of course) but there are a lot of copycat versions of the recipe out there, simply because not everyone (myself included) has a subscription to the NYTimes. I glanced upon this from a screenshot someone was kind enough to share, and gathered the recipe from watching Alison make the stew on Instagram stories. Pathetic, I know, but such is the glory of this stew.

Without further ado!

Ever since I got the Instant Pot I haven’t bought canned beans of any kind. It requires a teeny bit of thinking ahead but since I thrive on over-planning, it is a no-brainer. Most weekends I’ll make a big batch (starting with 2 cups of dry beans) of some bean or another, to put into soups, salads and curries. This batch in particular is mildly flavored with whole dry bay leaves and Garam Masala whole spice mix in a teabag!

Whole Garam Masala (spice mix) can be found in Indian grocery stories and is totally worth the investment. You can grind it up as needed, and use it to infuse flavors in meat, beans and vegetables!
I use my trusty disposable tea-bags for these applications, worth every penny. 

After cooking in the Instant Pot or on the stove, cool and drain the beans. These stay in the fridge for upto a week or in the freezer for upwards of 3 months!

The prep for this soup is very minimal – see below, that’s all the chopping you need to do! It seems like a lot of ginger and garlic but it lends a brilliant flavor to the broth, so go with it!

Cooked chickpeas (Instant Pot), chopped red onion, finely chopped ginger and garlic

Start by sautéing the finely chopped ginger, garlic and onions in extra virgin olive oil until very fragrant. To this, add salt, red chilli pepper flakes and turmeric, and sauté for another minute. Add the cooked garbanzo beans, and stir well. The ground turmeric is really the star of this recipe.

Good ‘ol Indian Ground Turmeric. One of the most essential ingredients in Indian cookery, now making its way around the world!

Sauté until chickpeas are slightly softened and can be easily mashed with the back of a spoon. Don’t mash them just yet! They’ll take on a gorgeous hue at this point.

Have I abandoned the stew and consumed these chickpeas straight from the pan? I admit nothing.

Reserve about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of this mixture to use as topping later.

I set aside a lot more chickpeas for garnish than the original recipe asks for; when you make this, you’ll see why!

After this step, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or a wooden spoon to cream the stew. Don’t overmash, the texture is everything here. Add 2 cans of coconut milk, or 1 can of coconut milk and 1 1/2 cup of Lite coconut milk (boxed), or 2 1/2 cups of Lite coconut milk, or any combination thereof (based of course on your caloric preferences). In my experience, the stew tastes extremely indulgent even when exclusively using Lite coconut milk. Using the canned variety is not required, and that’s what I am recommending below.

Also add 2 cups of vegetable broth or water, or any combination thereof. Give everything a good stir and let it cook for 20-25 minutes until chickpeas are almost completely falling apart. Adjust salt and spice levels.

Add a few handfuls of your choice of greens (if using chard or kale, chop into strips; baby kale or spinach can be kept whole; heartier/tougher greens should be blanched separately, then squeezed dry and chopped), and cook for another 3-5 minutes until greens are wilted but not discolored.

Submit to the stew.
Just the right color.

Add the reserved chickpea mixture back into the soup and mix, or use as garnish after ladling into bowls. Serve piping hot with toasted/grilled naan or steamed basmati rice.

Ready to be devoured!

• Recipe •

Chickpea Stew with Coconut Milk, Spinach and Turmeric

Makes 4-6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 large (or 2 medium) red onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon red chilli pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 cups cooked chickpeas (from 1 1/2 cups dry), or 2 small cans chickpeas; drained and rinsed
2 cups Lite coconut milk (such as Silk)
2 cups vegetable stock, broth, or water (adjust salt content accordingly)
2-3 cups baby spinach or kale leaves (or roughly chopped swiss chard or kale with stems removed)

Serving accompaniments:
Cooked Basmati rice
Toasted or grilled naan

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and red chilli pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add turmeric and stir well. Then, add red-pepper flakes and chickpeas, and sauté lightly for about 5 minutes, until chickpeas take on a slight color. Reserve about 1 to 1 1/2 cup of this chickpea mixture and set aside for garnish (keep warm).

Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, crush the chickpeas slightly to cream the soup, and mix well. Add coconut milk and broth, along with additional salt and red chili pepper flakes (to taste) and bring everything to a simmer.

Lower the flame and cook for about 30 minutes until stew is of desired thickness. You may choose to add more or less of the liquid depending on the consistency you prefer. Check and adjust salt/spice levels.

Add greens to the stew and cook for additional 3-5 minutes until wilted but not discolored. Adjust seasonings one last time.

Ladle into bowls and serve hot with Basmati rice or toasted Naan wedges.

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