Vegan Chickpea and Coconut Curry

Curries are such a comfort food, but unfortunately the ones we order for takeaway from the local Indian restaurant are usually full of butter and cream. Thankfully, this recipe is much healthier, and perfect for batch cooking midweek dinners – in fact it tastes better after 1 or 2 days when the flavours have matured and developed fully. I know most people say the daunting long list of ingredients in curries put them off making them, but all of the ingredients should be available quite cheaply in large supermarkets. Mr Bell’s in the English Market in Cork is also a great place to buy spices.

A lot of meat eaters worry they won’t feel full or satisfied after eating a vegetarian meal. The protein in this dish comes from chickpeas. If you haven’t tried them before I would really encourage you to do so! They are very filling and have a similar taste and texture to beans (without the sauce obviously). Hopefully you won’t still feel hungry after a big bowl of this curry!

There are many different varieties of chillies with varying levels of heat. Which ones you chose to use is entirely up to your heat tolerance and preference. I usually buy a mixed variety bag from the supermarket. If you like a mild curry, I would suggest using the ones labelled ‘red chillies’ in the supermarket. They are usually relatively large compared to the other chillies in the packet. If you chose to remove the seeds, make sure you use gloves, or you will suffer if you rub your eyes within the next 24 hours! If you really can’t deal with heat at all (my aunt starts sweating after normal bell peppers!) then just omit the chillies from the recipe altogether.

Garam masala is a pre-prepared mixture of spices that can be bought cheaply in most supermarkets. In this recipe, I’ve added some more spices to enhance its flavours. For anyone new to the curry world, spices aren’t all necessarily ‘spicy’ in the sense of setting your mouth on fire, but provide flavours and colour to the dish.

I never really buy tins of coconut milk as there is usually too much to use all at once, and I end up wasting some. Instead, I use a block of creamed coconut that turns to coconut milk in hot water. Creamed coconut can usually be purchased in large grocery stores, but can also be found in your local Asian supermarket.


Vegan Chickpea and Coconut Curry

  • 25 g ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Chillies (1 for mild, 2 for medium, 3 for hot, 4+ if you’re a dragon!)
  • 15 mL lemon juice (1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 cardamom pods (whole)
  • 2 x 400 g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400 g tins chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 200 mL water
  • 50 g of solid creamed coconut
  • 1 large handful of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • salt and pepper to season

Using a food processor or pestle and mortar, make a paste from the ginger, garlic, chillies and lemon juice. Set aside for use later.


Using a large pot to cook, heat the mustard seeds on a medium to high heat before you add any oil into the pan. Once they start ‘hopping’ and ‘popping’ in the pot, lower the heat to medium-low, and add the olive oil and chopped onion.

Slowly brown the onion for around 10-15 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn by stirring it regularly.

Add all of the powdered spices at once and stir through the onions. Cook for around 2 minutes.


Add the chilli/ginger/garlic/lemon paste you made earlier, and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add in the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, cardamom pods and water. Bring to a simmer, and leave to cook without any lid on for 1 hour, making sure to stir regularly. Add some more water if it begins to dry out and stick to the bottom of the pot.

Chop the creamed coconut into small pieces and add to the curry.

Roughly chop the fresh coriander leaves and stir through.

Season the curry to your taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve with fresh basmati rice.


Tag @thecorkfork on Instagram to show me your curry creations!



4 thoughts on “Vegan Chickpea and Coconut Curry

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