Lenten Recipe: Kenyan Chickpea Curry

Photo via MasterClass

If you’re abstaining from meat over the Lenten season, here’s another wonderful meatless dish you can make! Or, you can just make it because it’s delicious.

This is a vegetable curry typical to the Kenyan Indian community. The soaking step is a must if you desire soft and crunchy chickpeas, and to fully release the nutrients! In Kenya, this deliciously spicy dish is commonly referred to as “Chole” and is eaten with fried bread called “Bhature” made from soft wheat flour. Chickpea curry is eaten as part of a main meal during lunch or dinner and is savoured by the entire family.

Kenyan Chickpea Curry

Soak chickpeas overnight. Cook time: 40 minutes. Serves 4.


  • 1 2/3 cups chickpeas, raw
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp. chole masala
  • 3 tomatoes, red, ripe
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste, salted
  • 1 onion, red skinned, raw, unpeeled
  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 piece ginger
  • 2 tbsp. coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  • 6 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 ½ tsp. salt, iodized
  • ½ bay leaf
  • 4 sticks cloves
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds, raw
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp. anise seeds, raw


  • Sort and soak the chickpeas overnight.
  • Wash and boil the chickpeas in 2 cups water until
    the chickpeas are tender. Add 1 teaspoon
    of salt to taste.
  • Prepare, wash and cut the onion, tomatoes and
    coriander leaves.
  • Heat the oil in a cooking pot, add cinnamon, cumin,
    cloves, onion and stir.
  • Cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the cut tomatoes, ginger, garlic and coriander
    powder. Stir.
  • Add the tomato paste, red chili powder, 1 ½ teaspoon
    of salt, turmeric powder, cinnamon, bay leaf,
    lemon juice, anise seeds and chole masala.
  • Stir and cover to cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the coriander leaves.
  • Add the boiled chick peas and 1 cup of water.
  • Cover to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve.


  • Chickpea curry can be too spicy to eat on it’s own. Serve over rice or with warm bread (especially naan) to dilute the spice. If not abstaining from dairy, a dollop of plain yogurt also helps reduce the spice.