Easy Chickpea Curry with coconut milk and spinach is a versatile plant-based meal of Indian inspiration that you can build into your own healthy vegetarian curry recipe.
Having to carb count with diabetes is hard enough, but it's harder as a vegetarian because today's vegetarian diets bulk up the carbs to fill the absence of meat.
But managing blood sugar is more than just cutting back on the carbs. It's balancing your nutrient intake.
That's one of the reasons why this chickpea and spinach recipe is great for diabetes: protein, healthy fats, carbs and fiber at work together without any extra effort.
Why this Recipe Works
I love this recipe for all the above reasons, PLUS the amazing flavor. Both my mom and I never liked curry we tried before this one, and my nephew who eats nothing but fast food went back for seconds!
- Nutrient packed
- Versatile and buildable
- Made with pantry staples (minus the spinach)
- Ready in 30 minutes!
- Plus, the recipe is written to save you time while cooking!
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are of the legume family. In terms of diabetes, beans fall into both the protein and carbohydrate categories. A half-cup serving of canned chickpeas gives:
- 120 calories
- 6 grams of protein
- 20 grams of carbs (16 net carbs)
- 2 grams of fat
You're also getting a:
- good source of fiber - great for blood sugar management
- superb source of iron - critical for women and pregnancy due to historical lows
- great source of magnesium - great for blood sugar management
An Incomplete Protein
By themselves, chickpeas are an incomplete protein. Incomplete proteins lack all nine essential amino acids, or have them in a negligible amount.
When eating incomplete proteins like beans, pair them with complimentary proteins. The easiest way to compliment beans is with grains or seeds. For diabetes, grains with more protein, like quinoa, barley, wild rice, etc., are ideal.
Just watch those portions!
The full ingredient list is in the recipe card, but here are a few notes:
- Dry or Canned Beans? - Canned beans make this recipe easy. Dry beans can be used but they need to be cooked first per the package instructions.
- Full fat Coconut Milk was used for extra richness, but you can use lite coconut milk if you prefer.
- Baby spinach is best here because of its delicate texture.
- Fresh or Frozen Spinach? - The recipe calls for fresh spinach, but frozen can be used. Frozen spinach has more water, so it'll thin the sauce and water down the flavor a bit.
- Chili Powder - This curry has a mild spiciness, but you can remove the kick by omitting the chili powder.
- Add-Ins - You can add any veggies you want to this recipe. Just remember to watch the carbs. The denser the veggie, the earlier you put it in the pot so it can cook through.
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini are all great in this dish. Chop them into bite-size pieces and simmer for the last 10 minutes of the cook time.
- Fresh cilantro is listed as an optional garnish, but it's a must if you ask me.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
How to Make Chickpea Curry with Coconut Milk
- Heat a pot on medium-low heat. While it's heating, chop the onion.
- When the pot is hot, add the oil and onions and cook until they start to turn clear.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook.
- Throw in your spices and stir it up. Let it cook for a few minutes, until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato sauce (or passata) and coconut milk. Bring it to a boil.
- Add the chickpeas and reduce it to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Fold in the spinach (in batches if necessary) and let it wilt. If you keep gently stirring, it doesn’t even need to be on the heat. The residual temperature will allow the spinach to wilt into the curry seamlessly.
- It's ready to serve, but the longer it sits, the better it tastes!
- A small serving of brown rice or quinoa, if you have room for the carbs.
- Crack an egg on top and broil it for breakfast or brunch.
- Low Carb Naan - I haven't tried either of these recipes but what I like about them is that they are high in protein!
- More protein? Stir in nutritional yeast or add tofu.
- Garnish with toasted sliced almonds, cilantro, or extra coconut milk.
How long does chickpea curry last in the fridge?
This recipe will last for 4 days, refrigerated in an airtight container.
It freezes for 3 months. Reheat in a pot on low heat, or in the microwave, stirring occasionally in both methods.
- Freeze in small containers or baggies so you can defrost in portions.
No. Canned chickpeas are already cooked and ready to eat.
This recipe has 455 calories in one serving. Each serving is 1.25 cups.
Since chickpeas are so mild, even bland, in taste, they easily adapt to just about any recipe. They can be added to any soup or curry, used as a bulking agent/meat texture substitute, used in dense desserts like brownies or bars, commonly used in vegan desserts, made into vegan tuna fish or chicken salad, seasoned and roasted crispy, added to salad soft or crispy, eaten hot or cold: the list goes on.
First, rinse them with water to wash away some of the aluminum taste. Next, season them along with the rest of the dish and they'll adopt the flavors. I think chickpeas are best when mashed, then seasoned, because the whole chickpea becomes flavored, not just the outside.
Related Chickpea Recipes
Rate it if you made it, and tell me how you liked it in the comments!
Chickpea & Spinach Recipe (Curry with Coconut Milk)
- 1 cup White or yellow onion, chopped (small to medium in size)
- 1½ tablespoons Oil (any non-fragrant, or coconut)
- 4 cloves Garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon Ginger, minced (or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger)
- ½ teaspoon Chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Garam masala
- 2 teaspoon Ground coriander
- 2 teaspoon Ground turmeric
- 1 (14-ounce can) Coconut milk
- 1½ cups Tomato sauce, no salt added (or passata)
- 2 (15-ounce cans) Chickpeas
- 3 to 4 cups Baby spinach (fresh)
- Heat a large pot on medium-low heat. While it's heating, chop the onion.
- Add the oil to the pot, then the onions in an even layer. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring once, halfway through.Meanwhile, mince the garlic and ginger if using fresh ingredients, and measure the spices (chili powder, cumin, garam masala, ground coriander, turmeric).
- Add the garlic, ginger and spices. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.Meanwhile, measure the tomato sauce.
- Pour in the coconut milk and tomato sauce (or passata). Turn the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil.Meanwhile, drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Add the chickpeas and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach (a bit at a time if needed). Gradually fold and stir into the curry until wilted. (Optional) Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Can be doubled or tripled if you have a large enough pot. Storage
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
- Freeze (in portions) for up to 3 months.
- Reheat in a pot with a lid on low heat, stirring occasionally, or in the microwave.
- Canned lite coconut milk can be used instead.
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini are all great in this dish. Chop them into bite size pieces and simmer them for the last 10 minutes of the cook time.
- The curry is mildly spicy. To remove the spice, omit the chili powder.
- If sodium is a concern, omit the salt while cooking. Instead, salt each portion just before eating. The salt is more potent this way, causing you to use less.