Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew

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A hearty, filling meal that’s 100% wholesome, this Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew is the best of healthy comfort food. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and made with whole foods like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, warming Indian spices, and greens, but it feels like a cozy hug in a bowl!
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
5 from 4 votes

Since my Instant Pot Chana Masala recipe is one of my most popular recipes (and one of my personal favorites), I decided to do a riff on that with this Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew. But since I know a lot of you don’t have an Instant Pot, I developed this recipe to be a stovetop recipe.

This stew is my favorite kind of food for many reasons. It’s bold yet well-balanced in flavors, packed with aromatics and spices (like any good Indian food), and is really hearty and comforting yet wholesome and nutritious. It’s vegan, gluten-free, plant-forward, and boasts a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and protein from the chickpeas, sweet potatoes, garlic, Indian spices, Swiss Chard.

But at the same time, it’s also the kind of recipe that sticks to your ribs and satisfies your savory comfort food cravings. In other words, it’s the perfect winter comfort food!

Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Ingredient Rundown

Chickpeas

This is a chickpea stew, after all! I prefer to use chickpeas cooked from scratch—I like the texture a bit more than canned chickpeas, and cooking beans in the Instant Pot is literally as easy as opening a can of beans. That said, I have also made this recipe with canned chickpeas and it’s still very delicious, so canned chickpeas will work just fine.

I use 3 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas, which is equivalent to two (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas.

Indian Spices

Okay, pardon my repetition, but this is an Indian-spiced stew, after all! Like most truly delicious Indian recipes, I use both whole and ground spices. I know, it can be a bit of a pain to use all these spices, but if you like Indian food, it’s almost certainly because Indian food is so well-spiced and most good Indian dishes use both whole and ground spices!

Plus, once you stock up on some basic Indian spices, they’ll last you a long time, provided you store them in a cool, dark, dry place.

In the video around the 05:12 mark, I show you the Indian spice box I use to store the Indian spices I use most commonly—garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric, red Indian chili powder, whole cumin seeds, and black mustard seeds.

This spice box is really convenient because then I don’t have to take out seven different spice bottles and stick a measuring spoon down each bottle. For Indian spices I use less commonly—fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, etc.—I store them in individual bags or bottles in the fridge to preserve their shelf life.

For the whole spices, I use black mustard seeds and whole cumin seeds. If you can’t find black mustard seeds, you can substitute the more commonly available brown mustard seeds. You should be able to find whole cumin seeds at most grocery stores. The recipe begins by dry toasting these seeds for a minute or two until they become really aromatic and start to pop.

Later in the recipe, you’ll add the ground spices, which are all essential spices in Indian cooking: garam masala, coriander, turmeric, and Indian red chili powder. You can find the first three spices in most grocery stores, but Indian red chili powder is really only available in Indian stores or online. If you can’t find it, substitute it with cayenne pepper but use roughly half the amount since cayenne pepper is spicier.

Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Aromatics

My mother starts most of her Indian dishes with a powerhouse of aromatics: yellow onions, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and green chilies. And since I learned how to cook Indian food from my mother, that’s how I often start my Indian recipes as well.

However, I didn’t want this chickpea stew to be too spicy, so I omitted the green chiles. There is some heat in this stew from the red Indian chili powder, but I didn’t want to go overboard with two types of chiles.

Regarding the other aromatics, I’ve been asked a few times if fresh ginger and garlic are necessary in my curry/soup/stew recipes, or if ground ginger/garlic would be fine. The answer is YES, they are NECESSARY.

I understand it takes a few extra minutes to chop garlic and ginger, but that’s where so much of the flavor lives. Sauteing aromatics in oil before adding the rest of the ingredients infuses layers of flavor into the dish in a way that ground garlic or ginger will never be able to match.

Plus, ground ginger and garlic taste somewhat different than their fresh counterparts. For instance, ground ginger has a much more potent pungency than fresh ginger, and is better used in baking applications and beverages rather than in savory dishes. And ground or granulated garlic just doesn’t have the same vibrant, bold flavor of fresh garlic.

Additionally, you lose some of those beneficial antioxidants found in fresh ginger and garlic when you process them into powders.

If the thought of peeling and grating/mincing garlic and ginger every time you make an Indian recipe overwhelms you, you can prep a big quantity at once and freeze what you don’t need. This is exactly what my mother has done for the last 35 years and her food is delicious.

My favorite tool for grating ginger is a microplane. I recently purchased this microplane after using the same one for the last 10 years, and it has made it so much easier to grate ginger. If you don’t have a microplane and don’t feel like buying one, you can mince the ginger with a sharp knife, but be sure to use ginger that is fresh and not ginger that has been sitting in your fridge for weeks on end. The latter will dry out and get stringy, making it extremely difficult to slice through with a knife.

Sweet Potatoes

I absolutely love adding sweet potatoes to curries and dals. It brings a pleasant sweetness that balances the spiciness in a natural, wholesome way.

I have to admit that I do prefer using the Instant Pot over the stovetop for these kinds of recipes because the high pressure of the Instant Pot almost melts the sweet potatoes into the liquid, naturally thickening the texture. You can see this in action in my Jackfruit Sweet Potato Curry or in the Easy Sweet Potato Dal recipe from my cookbook.

Since this is a stovetop recipe, the sweet potatoes won’t quite melt into the stew, but they will get nice and soft and bring a nice subtly sweet balance to the spices. But you need to make sure you dice your sweet potatoes up pretty finely. No random big chunks, please.

If your sweet potatoes aren’t diced finely enough, they won’t fully cook through in the time noted in the recipe, and you’ll end up with some partially cooked, hard sweet potato chunks. To see what size I dice the sweet potatoes, be sure to watch the video starting around the 05:00 mark.

Swiss Chard

I love finishing hearty dishes like stews and curries with some greens. Just toss them in towards the end of cooking until they’re wilted. It’s an easy way to eat more greens that won’t make you feel like you’re eating yet another kale salad. TBH, I do like kale salad a lot, but in winter, it feels like a lot more work and my body naturally gravitates towards cooked greens instead.

Swiss chard is packed with Vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. But, you could easily use any green you like—kale, spinach, collard greens, etc. Keep in mind that collard greens might need a few extra minutes since they are tougher, whereas a delicate green like spinach will just need a minute or two to wilt.

Garnishes and Finishes

If you’ve been to an Indian restaurant (at least a North Indian restaurant), you’ve likely noticed that they bring a range of “extras” along with your main dish. Usually a lemon wedge and some yogurt, sometimes sliced red onions, tomatoes, or cucumbers. That’s because these “extras” help balance the spicy flavors found in most Indian food.

A spicy biryani is much more balanced with a spoon of raita, an Indian cucumber yogurt dip. A thick, creamy curry is freshened up with a squeeze of lemon juice, and pungent onions or fresh tomatoes cleanse the palate bring a nice tart crunch to every bite.

That’s why I finish this Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew with lemon juice, cilantro, and mint, and why I recommend serving it with some coconut yogurt and sliced red onions. The acidity of the lemon juice and the cooling, slight sweet flavor of fresh mint balance the spiciness of the stew. Serve alongside a bit of (vegan) yogurt and you get even more cooling contrast.

Watch! How to make Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew

The recipe for Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew starts at the 4:20 mark.

That’s all you need to know about this Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew. If you make it, leave me a comment below or over on Youtube!

Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

5 from 4 votes
A hearty, filling meal that’s 100% wholesome, this Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew is the best of healthy comfort food. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and made with whole foods like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, warming Indian spices, and greens, but it feels like a cozy hug in a bowl!
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Indian-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: chickpea, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, stew, sweet potato
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds*
  • 1 1 ⁄2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1 ⁄2-inch piece fresh ginger grated or minced
  • 3 bay leaves

Ground spices

  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon Indian red chili powder or 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper**
  • A generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (equivalent to 3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups peeled and finely diced sweet potatoes****
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or half of 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 ounces Swiss chard****, finely sliced into ribbons
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint*****, finely chopped

Garnishes (optional but recommended)

  • Thinly sliced red onions
  • Coconut yogurt

For serving

  • White rice or brown rice
  • Indian flatbread or pita bread

Instructions

  • Heat a large, deep nonstick frying pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir occasionally and toss the seeds around for 1-2 minutes, or until they start to jump in the pan and smell very aromatic but not burning.
  • Add the coconut oil and once it’s melted, add the diced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and start to turn golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes until very aromatic, stirring frequently to prevent burning and sticking.
  • Add the bay leaves and ground spices, and then add the chickpeas and stir them around to coat around in the spices. Allow them to cook for 5-6 minutes, turning only once after a few minutes, to allow them to get a bit browned and crispy.
  • Pour in the water, stirring around to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, diced sweet potatoes, crushed tomatoes, and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and the stew has thickened.
  • Add the chard (or kale) and cover the pan. Cook for 5 more minutes until wilted. Remove bay leaves.
  • Stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Serve with fresh mint, sliced red onion, and coconut yogurt.

Notes

* If you can’t find black mustard seeds, feel free to substitute brown mustard seeds - they’re a bit less spicy.
** Omit for a mild version.
*** This is equivalent to 3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes. Make sure to finely dice the sweet potatoes - otherwise, they won’t fully cook through in the stew (or you’ll need to cook the stew longer). To see what size I dice them, be sure to watch the video starting around the 05:00 mark.
**** You can use other greens, such as kale or spinach. Spinach will cook very quickly and won’t need as much time.
***** The fresh mint adds a really nice cooling complement to the spiciness of the stew.

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14 comments on Indian Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew

  1. Stephen

    Made this last night for dinner and it was fabulous! The Swiss chard rather than spinach really was an amazing upgrade in heartiness and texture! I make a lot of Indian dishes (my wife is Indian) and this recipe is a keeper! Thank you!

  2. FRANCES MURPHY

    Hello Nisha,
    Thank you for the delicious recipes. Is it possible for you to list the calories for your meals for those of us trying to keep track?
    Thanks,

  3. Candace

    I came across this recipe a couple of weeks ago. Not a vegan but wanting to incorporate more meatless meals. Had to buy a couple new spices… garam masala, and cumin seeds (thought it came only ground!) I followed the directions exactly. I will say the prep took me closer to 40 minutes than 25 but it was worth it. So delicious!! And adding the coconut yogurt etc on the side was worth it too. Definitely will be making this often in the future. Thank you!!

  4. kristin

    Made this yesterday, and it was absolutely fantastic! Very easy to follow recipe. The flavor was very multifaceted, I can’t wait to make this for my other vegan family members. Thank you!

  5. Carolann

    Ok, this one took me out of my comfort zone for sure!! I had never tried Indian Food before!! All the spices were foreign to me and I didn’t know what to expect for scent, etc! Let me just tell you…..THIS STUFF IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! I left the "hot spices" out and I couldn’t get black mustard seed so I subbed with yellow seed! Anyhoooooo THIS IS SO GOOD!!! Will be amazing this fall and winter to make!!! TRY THIS RECIPE!!! It’s awesome!!!

  6. Neha

    This is literally so delicious, I am out of words! This will definitely be made again and again! I love incorporating sweet potatoes in foods I make at home, but they have never tasted so good before. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  7. Leigh

    Hi Nisha. A huge shout out to you and of course most importantly your Mom for your amazing Indian food and recipes. They are spot on and so authentic and my husband and I ate most grateful that they taste exactly the way we would hope they would. I am from South Africa and few hours in Durban living in Indian Food. Soooo nice to eat it again home made by myself, Per kind favor both you wonderful women…. much love and yumminess for our tummy’s. We’ve tried a couple of your recipes and love them all. 😘

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Leigh, aww you are so sweet! Thank you for your lovely comment. My mom definitely deserves a huge shoutout for not only teaching me how to cook Indian food but also feeding our family for years :) I am so glad that you and your husband are enjoying my recipes and you’re able to make Indian food food at home. Thank you for your lovely note. I have a really exciting new Indian recipe coming this weekend so stay tuned :)

  8. Michelle

    I also enjoyed the recipe delicious thanks

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Michelle, so nice to hear that you did! Thanks for letting me know :)

  9. Lynn

    Nisha as always your recipes are an absolute hit at home ❤️ This ones going on rotation especially during the wicked Canadian winter 😅

    1. Nisha Vora

      Aww thank you, Lynn! That makes me so happy to hear :) Thank you for the lovely feedback and so happy this recipe helped you stay cozy!

  10. Marcel Schüttau

    Hey Nisha,
    I really enjoy your recipes and also got your Instant Pot cookbook. For an European (I’m from Germany) it’s really confusing dealing with US metrics. Inches and ounces are not a thing here. Could you consider including metric units into your recipes?

    1. Candace

      Hi
      I can’t see that Nisha replied to you. You posted awhile ago so don’t know if you’ll see this but as a Canadian we use metric too…
      there is an app in the Apple App Store and I expect in android too called gUnit. It converts almost everything. It’s very helpful.

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