Thursday 26 March 2020 4:15 pm

Cupboard Love: Our new daily column on isolation cooking – today, chickpea curry

Chickpeas are a mystery to science. At some indeterminate point in modern history, every household in the UK was issued with between one and six cans of chickpeas, which were arbitrarily distributed at the back of their cupboards.

Nobody knows how they got there, and most people don’t even know they exist, but search your larder and you will find them, lurking beside some solidified gravy granules and some dangerously out of date tinned tomatoes. My best guess is they were placed there by some benevolent force for a crisis such as this.

Personally, I horde dried pulses rather than the tinned variety, and some of mine are way past their recommended use by date – ignore that, so long as they’re dried, they will outlive every man woman and child on earth. In response to Covid-19, I have moved my stash to the front of my larder, ready to grab at a second’s notice.

So here’s how to turn those chickpeas into a delicious curry. I’ve included the whole recipe but if you’re missing any ingredients, especially the fresh ones, have a rummage for alternatives or just leave them out altogether and hope for the best.

Chickpea and coconut curry

(serves 4-6)

• 150g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water Salt

• 1⁄2tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the curry

• 4tbsp vegetable or corn oil or Ghee

• 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

• 2 green chillies, trimmed and finely chopped

• 3 medium onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped 3cm piece of cinnamon stick

• 2 cloves

• The seeds from 6 cardamom pods

• 12 or so fennel seeds

• 1tbsp freshly-grated turmeric or 1⁄2tsp powder

• 2tsp mustard seeds

• 1tsp fenugreek seeds

• 1tsp ground coriander

• 1⁄2tsp garam masala

• 4 medium tomatoes, chopped

• 200ml coconut milk

• 4-5tbsp chopped coriander


• Drain and rinse the chickpeas and then place them in a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt and the bicarbonate of soda and cover well with water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about an hour, or until they are tender, then drain.

• Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the garlic, chilli, onions and all of the dried spices and cook on a low heat for about 6-7 minutes.

• Add the chopped tomatoes, about 600-700ml water and the chickpeas. Add a couple of good pinches of salt, bring to the boil and simmer over a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is just coating the chickpeas. Add the coconut milk and continue simmering for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the coriander. Season to taste and serve.