Braised Indian Chickpea Stew

Jump to Recipe
This Indian-inspired chickpea stew features lots of warming spices, chickpeas, cabbage, and carrots. Everything gets braised in the oven and the result is a rich and hearty yet wholesome stew that will satisfy the heartiest of appetites.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 50 mins
5 from 40 votes

Say hello to your new favorite hearty and flavorful winter meal, this one-pot Braised Indian Chickpea Stew!

A few weeks ago, while testing recipes for my next cookbook(!), I made an oven-braised bean stew. It felt very French, and it was delightful. There was a bouquet garni involved, a white wine deglaze, and maybe some vegan butter. After eating it, I thought: wouldn’t it be fun to try this technique of cooking with an Indian dish?

Oven braising isn’t too common in Indian cooking and cooking with wine certainly isn’t either, but I thought I’d give this hybrid mashup a go. The result is this hearty, well-spiced Indian-inspired chickpea stew that will keep satisfied for hours. It’s not a traditional Indian recipe and not quite a curry, hence the name “stew,” but it has all the bold flavors you love about Indian food in a wholesome plant-based package.

dutch oven with ladle of chickpea stew and cutting board with garnishes

Why you’ll love this Indian chickpea stew

Well-spiced and flavorful. Like any good Indian dish, this stew is packed with warming spices and bold flavors. The dish starts with toasting whole spices (cumin, coriander, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves) and then gets hit with some ground spices as well (turmeric, Indian red chili powder, and nutmeg).

Hearty and sticks to your ribs. Even my omnivore boyfriend called this dish “extremely hearty winter food.” If there was a thing such as “vegan hunter food,” this would be it. It’s the kind of meal you await after a long, hard day. It warms you up from the inside and fills you up for hours.

Excellent for meal prep. As with many Indian curries, the flavors develop even more after resting. This makes this chickpea stew fantastic for meal prep. I recommend stretching the meal out by serving it over rice or with Indian flatbread. It’s also freezer-friendly!

Nourishing: This chickpea stew might feel like “hunter food,” but it’s also nourishing. The garlic, ginger, and turmeric boast antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The cabbage and carrots are nutrient-rich. And the chickpeas make this a hearty, protein-packed meal.

If you’re looking for even more nourishing yet comforting Indian food, highly recommend my fan favorite Red Lentil Curry or my Dal Tadka!

braised indian chickpea stew in bowl with yogurt

Ingredient spotlight

Chickpeas. I use canned chickpeas for convenience, but if you’re in the habit of cooking chickpeas from scratch, definitely use your home-cooked chickpeas. And if you love chickpeas but are tired of just eating them straight out of the tin, be sure to check out this post on 12 fun ways to use a can of chickpeas.

Cabbage and carrots. While I love chana masala (you can find my recipe here, or in my cookbook), I often wish it had some veggies in it. Adding cabbage and carrots to this chickpea stew is my half-baked solution. If you’re skeptical of cabbage, just know that once it gets cooked down (sautéed, then braised), it releases its sugars and becomes slightly sweet and almost buttery rich. It also contributes to the heartiness of the stew.

Golden raisins, aka sultanas. Raisins are fairly common in Indian cuisine, especially rice dishes and desserts. They’re less traditional in curries, but they nicely balance the spiciness. Also, when cooked in liquid, they plump up beautifully, adding a slightly chewy but soft texture.

ingredient flatlay of chickpea cabbage stew with text

Cooking method spotlight: how to make a flavorful stew

The careful layering of flavors is one of the secrets behind really flavorful food. And Indian cuisine does a masterful job of this.

In this dish, start by grinding whole spices (cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, fennel). Grinding releases the delicate oils that give the spice their essence. Then, briefly fry the whole spices in a bit of oil until fragrant. The next layer comes in by shallow frying the aromatics – onions, cabbage, carrots, garlic, and ginger.

More flavor comes from cooking tomato paste down (something I love doing to boost the umami notes, but not very common in traditional Indian cuisine though). Next, briefly cook a few ground spices and stir them into the aromatics.

Once the spices and aromatics are cooked, deglaze the pan with a dry white wine. Wine is not traditional in Indian cooking, but I like this additional element, as it fortifies the flavors and releases flavors that might otherwise lie dormant. Don’t drink/cook with wine? Not to worry, it can be omitted.

Once the remaining ingredients are added, braise the stew in the oven. Braising involves cooking ingredients in a small amount of liquid (moist heat) on the stovetop or in the oven. Usually, the liquid is flavored (e.g., vegetable broth, wine, juice). Braising the chickpeas fattens them up and infuses them with lots of flavor.

Finally, incorporate a fat source into the stew – the coconut milk tempers the heat of the spices and brings a welcomed creamy texture. Shortly thereafter, finish with freshness and acidity (here, in the form of cilantro and lemon juice). And balance the spiciness with a bit of sweetness (if you added the raisins earlier, and/or add a pinch of sugar at the end) and more acidity (vegan yogurt).

indian chickpea stew in a ceramic bowl served with rice

How to make braised Indian chickpea stew

First, add the whole cardamom pods, cloves, cumin/coriander/fennel seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and very roughly grind to release their aroma. The texture should be quite coarse.

roughly ground spices in a bowl

Next, heat a bit of the oil in a Dutch oven (this is the pan I use, but I’ve also made this in my Le Creuset Dutch oven) or a stove-to-oven braising pan like this. Add the roughly ground spices and cinnamon sticks and cook briefly until aromatic. Then add the chopped cabbage, carrots, and onion.

Cook the vegetables for about 6-8 minutes. Then add in the sliced garlic and minced ginger and cook another 2 minutes.

Add in the tomato paste and cook 2 minutes, stirring vigorously to coat. Add in the ground spices (turmeric, nutmeg, Indian red chili powder) and cook 1 minute.

Pour in the white wine, scraping up the browned bits and fond from bottom of the pan, and deglaze the pan.

Add in the vegetable broth, canned chickpeas, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, raisins, and salt/pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan with the lid, and transfer to the oven.

Braise for 1 hour until the chickpeas and vegetables are soft.

Pour the coconut milk into the pan, return to the oven, and braise for 10 minutes.

Finish the stew with lemon juice, garam masala, cilantro, and salt/pepper to taste.

You can see a web story of me making this chickpea stew here.

Substitutes for this chickpea stew

Don’t have Indian red chili powder? Use half the amount of cayenne pepper. Or, use 2 serrano peppers (remove seeds for a moderate heat) and sauté with the garlic and ginger.

Don’t cook with wine? Simply omit it and use 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth to deglaze the pot. Cook until it’s mostly evaporated/reduced.

Not a fan of raisins? You can omit them, but you’ll want to serve this chickpea stew with some plant-based yogurt to temper the heat of the Indian chili powder. 

Can’t have coconut milk? Try cashew milk (but don’t add any extra broth during braising, as cashew milk is thinner than coconut milk). Or, better yet, make your own cashew cream. Soak 1/2 cup raw cashews overnight or in boiling water for 1hour. Blend with 1/2 cup – 3/4 water and a few pinches of salt until smooth.

indian chickpea stew in a bowl with naan and yogurt

How to substitute ground spices for the whole spices

Converting whole to ground spices can be tricky because ground spices are much more concentrated, so it’s easier to overdo them. Also, you’re going to lose some nuance and complexity of flavor by using ground spices.

You can find all of these whole spices at South Asian grocery stores, at well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts, or online.

But if you can’t get some or all of the whole spices, here are some conversions. Add these when you add the other ground spices.

  • 6 green cardamom pods = heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • 4 whole cloves = scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds = scant 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds = scant 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cinnamon sticks = 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds = scant 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin or omit, as ground fennel is harder to find than fennel seeds
dinner scene with indian chickpea stew, rice, yogurt, and cilantro

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the whole spices?

Use the side of a cleaver, or heavy chef’s knife on a cutting board. Or, place the spices in a ziploc bag and use a rolling pin or a coffee mug to smash down. 

How to serve Indian chickpea stew

This stew is hearty enough to eat on its own, but to stretch it further, serve over white basmati rice or brown rice. Or pair with Indian flatbread, such as roti or naan (pita bread works in a pinch too). Naan is traditionally made with ghee and/or yogurt, but many grocery stores (Sprouts, Whole Foods, Trader Joes) now sell vegan naan. I recommend serving with a dollop of coconut yogurt or other plant yogurt to balance the spiciness.

How do you store this stew?

To store this stew, cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For the freezer, portion out into glass containers or freezer bags (plastic containers will likely stain due to turmeric). Portioning it out makes it easier to defrost. Freeze for 3 to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight to retain the best texture. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

bowl of indian chickpea stew with yogurt and naan

I hope you give this hearty and satisfying Braised Indian Chickpea Stew recipe a try! If you do, please leave a rating and review below with your feedback and tag me on Instagram with your remakes :)

braised indian chickpea stew in dutch oven - dinner scene

Braised Indian Chickpea Stew

5 from 40 votes
This Indian-inspired chickpea stew features lots of warming spices, chickpeas, cabbage, and carrots. Everything gets braised in the oven and the result is a rich and hearty yet wholesome stew that will satisfy the heartiest of appetites.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free
Serving size: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced on the bias*
  • ½ of a medium cabbage, roughly chopped (16-18 ounces or 450-510g)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2- inch (5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Indian red chili powder**
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) dry white wine***
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 mL) vegetable broth (plus a little more as needed)
  • 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup (55g) golden raisins (sultanas)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce/410g) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup (240 mL) full-fat canned coconut milk, stirred well

Whole Spices

  • 6 whole green cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (2-3 inches long)

For finishing

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¾ cup (9g) cilantro leaves chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Lemon juice (a few squeezes)
  • 1-2 teaspoons organic cane sugar, as needed

For serving

  • Coconut yogurt or other vegan yogurt
  • White rice, brown rice, or Indian flatbread such as naan or roti

Instructions

  • Roughly grind the whole spices. Add the cardamom pods, cloves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds to a spice grinder or mortar or pestle. Coarsely grind (just a few pulses with an electric grinder) – you want some texture to remain. Remove the empty cardamom pod shells.
    Note: If you don’t have either of these tools, see the blog post section “Frequently Asked Questions“
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • Heat a Dutch oven or stove-to-oven braising pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the roughly ground spices *and* the cinnamon sticks. Sauté for 60 seconds or until very fragrant, tossing frequently to prevent burning.
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Next, add the onions, carrots, and cabbage. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir frequently for 2 minutes to coat everything. If things start to dry out or seem like they might burn, add a splash or two of water and scrape up the browned bits. Add in the Indian red chili powder, turmeric, and nutmeg, and stir frequently for 1 minute.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the browned bits and fond from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated and the smell of alcohol has dissipated, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth, chickpeas, bay leaves, raisins, tomatoes, and 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well to combine and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes, stir again, and then turn off the heat.
  • Put the lid on the pan, or if it doesn’t have a lid, cover tightly with foil. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and braise for 1 hour, until the chickpeas and vegetables are soft.
    At the halfway mark, check to see if the liquid has evaporated somewhat. If so, add additional vegetable broth or water (about 1/4 cup).
  • Pour in the coconut milk and return the pan to the oven to braise for another 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and discard the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.
  • Stir in the garam masala, cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt or pepper as needed. If it's slightly too acidic, stir in a teaspoon or two of sugar.
  • Serve warm with Indian flatbread or over a bed of rice. Dollop on some vegan yogurt before serving or serve on the side.

Notes

* Don’t slice too thinly or thickly (see the ingredient photo in the blog post for a visual reference). 
** Use less Indian chili powder for a milder heat; or use up to 2 teaspoons if you like it very spicy. If the latter, highly recommend pairing with yogurt to balance the heat.
*** A dry white wine such as Pinto Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc works well. Use Barnivore.com to find vegan-friendly wines. 

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @rainbowplantlife and hashtag it #rainbowplantlife

Leave a Comment & Rating

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider giving it a star rating along with your comment! It helps others discover my blog and recipes, and your comments always make my day :) Thank you for your support!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe




39 comments on Braised Indian Chickpea Stew

  1. RonP

    Thank you for this recipe! It was wonderful. I modified a bit. I added boneless chicken thighs, which I browned in a little of the ground spice mix with the one tablespoon of oil. I added the chicken in when i added in the chickpeas. I also used dried chickpeas, which I soaked for about six hours then boiled for 45 minutes before using. Since I used the dried chickpeas, i added an extra half of a cup of water. It turned out perfect. I will definitely make this again.

  2. Rod B

    Hi Nisha,
    Will definitely try this recipe… already salivating :) Just one question though, the suggestion that 2 cinnamon sticks (i.e. 4 to 6 inches of cinnamon stick) can be substituted by only 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon just doesn’t seem right – is this a typo?
    Cheers
    Rod

    1. Nisha

      Hi Rod, glad to hear it! The recommended ground to whole cinnamon stick conversion varies depending the source, but in my experience, ground cinnamon is much more potent than whole cinnamon sticks (the sticks bring a subtle warm aroma that perfumes the dish; the ground tastes exactly like cinnamon), so I like to err on the side of using less ground because I don’t want it to overpower a savory dish.

  3. stacie garza

    Amazing! So flavorful- savory, spicy, and sweet! I loved it! Subbed the white wine for veggie broth.

  4. D Herrick

    This dish was excellent! I’m trying to eat less meat and this dish made it feel like a meat night! It was so hearty and satisfying. Can’t wait for leftover night :)

  5. Kelly Machonis

    Absolutely love this recipe! I only had red cabbage, but it worked beautifully! So many flavors exploding in my mouth. My favorite part is getting that little bit of golden raisin in every bite. Love Love Love!

    1. Nisha

      Hi Kelly, so great to hear that you loved this chickpea stew and it worked with red cabbage! I also love that golden raisin bite! Works so well with the spicy flavors.

  6. Britmarie Witkowski

    This was incredible. We made it to the recipe. It was so flavorful. I am looking forward to having it as leftovers to let the flavors settle together. It was so so so good!! Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Haley

    This was so delicious! Thank you!

  8. Melissa

    Delicious…and it’s a good thing because it makes a lot and I am the only one eating it! Next time ( and there will definitely be a next time) I will cut the ingredients in half so it is more manageable for one. Thank you for sharing!

  9. LynnieD

    Really loved this recipe – Didn’t have a lot of the “whole” spices but had some… Improvised as much as I could and even used some madras curry seasoning which complemented several of he recipe ingredients. It was a bit time consuming though and found that just pouring in the coconut milk at the beginning was perfectly fine. Served with naan and husband loved. Thank you for being here online!

  10. Danielle

    I never though to cook chickpeas in this way. Sounds so amazing. And the color of this dish is just stunning… I’d love to even have those photos framed and up in the kitchen! :)

  11. Emese

    This is truly amazing! Very complex flavors but be forewarned it is a lot of work, and takes at least 2 hours. However, it is well worth it! Grinding the spices by hand in a mortar took at least 10 minutes because you have to do it in batches usually. Peeling, grating the fresh ginger took about 5 minutes, and so on. So, these steps, and the multitude of ingredients, do add up. For reference, I am an experienced cook, and for my palate, we did not add any lemon juice or sugar at the end. I actually think the garam masala is what cinches the deal. D not omit!

    1. Rif A. Saurous

      Agreed. This was absolutely delicious, but the “20 minutes prep time” was a massive underestimate. (I do have a spice grinder, but by the time you dig it out, dig out all the different spices, measure them out, grind it, and clean the spice grinder, that’s at least a few minutes.)

  12. Nancy Vogt

    This dish was absolutely amazing. The flavors are so rich and complex and yet so smoothly woven in the entire dish. I made this twice and it was even better the second time- I think it was because I used the whole spices and ground up in mortar and pestle like Nisha suggested. I also used 1 tsp of Indian red Chili powder this time (couldn’t find the first time I made it) and it gave it just the right amount of heat for anyone who likes heat but not too too much. All I can say is Nisha has captured the authenticity of Indian cooking! oh, one other thing: I highly suggest prepping all the ingredients before you start cooking!

  13. agatha

    Made this last night and my carnivore husband loved it and raved about it. My picky daughter even ate the chickpeas. I also only had 1 can of chickpeas so I added 1 cup of red lentils to it. So delicious (and tasted better for lunch the next day).

  14. Leila

    This was delicious :)

  15. Jen

    I was a little weary of this one because of the cabbage – but I figured I would give it a shot for meal prep this week and I am SO happy I did. This is SO delicious and the cabbage is not weird at all. The spice level is great – there is so much going on with this. I made basmati rice to eat with it. I omitted the wine and added some extra veg broth in its place.

    1. Nisha

      So happy you enjoyed this chickpea stew and the cabbage was a great addition for you :) Thanks for sharing, Jen!

  16. Elisa

    Delicious, I made it yesterday and everybody was delighted!!
    Tks

  17. Maria

    I came across this recipe while searching for meatless meals for Fridays in Lent. Made it tonight and it was delicious! My children were begging for more. Definitely NOT a meal of sacrifice 😀
    We will be adding this to the menu rotation year round.

  18. Ruby Daniels-Schmidt

    I made this today and it is absolutely wonderful. It is the best thing I have made in a long time.

  19. Brian

    Hi Nisha, I am about to make this recipe and as I was reading the instructions, I came upon this phrase: “Heat a Dutch oven or stove-to-oven praising [sic] pan over medium heat . . .” Sometimes typos release wonderful, poetic images, like this. I have been pondering the idea of a praising pan and wonder if it might perhaps be a sacred or at least special pan that is only used to bear a particularly worthy dish to a table of honoured guests. We shall see if this recipe and, more importantly, my culinary skills can meet this test.

    1. Nisha

      Haha oops, that should say “braising” pan. I’m so glad the typo gave you a poetic image though :) I laughed out loud while reading that.

  20. Connie

    Absolutely delicious layers of flavor! I followed the recipe except for the wine. I didn’t have any white wine and thought the acidity of the tomatoes would deglaze the pot. Check! I also used dark raisins as that is what I had on hand.

    I have tried many of your recipes and they are all great!

  21. JenX

    Holy non-dairy cow this recipe is good! I tasted it before it went into the oven and it was delicious then. But after I added the coconut milk and braised for another 10 minutes, wow! I am new to your site and so far the three recipes I have made are awesome. Thank for this!

  22. Chuck

    I haven’t made this yet, but I am going to get everything I need to make it today. I won’t use wine. And I probably won’t use raisins, but I still expect this will be awesome as I have made someone else’s version before and it was great.

  23. Natalie

    I was transfixed by the aroma of this dish when I was cooking it, and now my tastebuds are too! The flavors are spot on, as they always are in your recipes. My whole family gave it an excited two thumbs up!

  24. Kristen

    This. Is. Amazing. I have to admit I am most often avoid recooked that take longer than 30min from start to finish simply because of my usual time constraints in the kitchen. But this recipient reminded me of how much I truly enjoy spending some time in the kitchen in a labor of love. The first bite had me feeling as if I was sitting at my favorite local Indian restaurant. The flavors of this recipe blew me away. My husband is quite avoidant when it comes to spiciness so I used a literal dash of cayenne in place of the Indian red chili powder that I didn’t have. It was perfect for our baby taste buds. The rest of the flavors came through like explosions in your mouth. Perfect for omnis too!

  25. Lisa

    Made this for a dinner with friends. They were making roasted veggies with quinoa and this Indian Cassoulet was a perfect accompaniment! I didn’t have all the whole seeds but was able to substitute the ground spices as recommended and it worked like a charm! Flavorful and rich, a great healthy comfort food! Nisha delivers as usual!

  26. Linda

    This recipe is a bit different from others I’ve used, and sounds amazing. I love Indian foods and I’m going to make this tonite! Thank you Nisha!

  27. Jeanine

    Wow wow wow. That’s all my tastebuds can say! We made this as soon as you posted it to instagram because we had almost all the ingredients and it sounded amazing. Talk about a party in my mouth! And perfect for the crazy cold weather we’re having.

  28. Carol

    Hi Nisha, this looks so delicious! I don’t currently have all of those whole spices. Can I simply sub the same amount of the ground spice for the whole or do I need to change the measurement?

    1. Nisha

      Hi Carol, I included a section in the blog post on how to substitute the whole spices for ground spices :)

    2. Giselle C

      Hi Nisha!
      I can’t wait to try this recipe. Unfortunately, no Cabbage in the house but I won’t let that stop me. I’m going to add kale instead, that’s how bad I want to have an Indian chickpea stew. Thank you for another great recipe, as well as including the conversion from whole spice to ground, I keep forgetting to pickup Cardamon pods on my Asian grocery excursion.

  29. Asmath

    This is such a unique twist to Chickpea masala curry. 💓

  30. JoJo

    Sounds so yummy, can’t wait to try today! Can we omit the wine?

    1. Nisha

      Hi JoJo, yes you can omit it. Here’s what I wrote in the post.

      “Simply omit [the wine] and use 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth to deglaze the pot. Cook until it’s mostly evaporated/reduced.”

  31. Sandra

    I love chickpeas and will certainly be trying this one. I’m printing it as I write. thank you very much for this well-presented and delicious recipe.

Development Alchemy + Aim