Spicy Chickpeas with Curry Leaves and Kale

Oh kale, you’re everywhere. You’re in my belly right now because I just had you for lunch (a raw salad that was a little too spicy from Little Dom’s Deli). You’re a fad, you’re a trend. You’re chips, you’re juice. You’re unavoidable in L.A.

And here I am putting a recipe with kale in it up on the blog. Have I no shame? Am I the equivalent of an insecure middle schooler who chases the popular kids around yelling, “Hey, guys, wait for me!” (Funny: when I started high school, one of the first friends I made–an older girl–actually said, “You seem like the kind of kid who’d say, ‘Hey guys, wait for me!'”) Whatever.

This is really just a riff on the Chickpea Curry I’ve been making for a while with three changes: (1) I decided not to make this one disgusting, so I left out black cardamom; (2) I used curry leaves at the start, just like I wrote about in this post, to flavor the oil; and (3) I added kale at the end.

Let me walk you through this because, really, there’s no fixed recipe. You just wing it.

Get a large skillet and coat it with a combination of coconut oil and olive oil. Heat it up and when hot, strip the curry leaves into the hot oil. They should sizzle. Throw in the stem too.


When it becomes fragrant, add a chopped onion plus a pinch of salt. Allow the onion to brown for a bit.


When the onion’s brown, add 2 or 3 cloves of chopped garlic and, if you’d like, some chopped ginger. Then add all of your spices. I like to toast a tablespoon each of coriander seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds in a small skillet and then grind them in a spice grinder. I add that to the onions along with a big tablespoon of garam masala. Cook that for 30 seconds, then add your chickpeas, coat with the spices; then add a can of tomatoes and mush up the tomatoes with your spoon. I also added about 1/2 cup of coconut milk here.

Turn up to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook–with a pinch of salt–until concentrated and reduced, about 30 minutes. See?


Man, that has good flavor. When you’re there, it’s as simple as this: add a bunch of chopped up kale.


Stir that in, with another pinch of salt, and allow to cook down. It only takes a few minutes. And there you are…


This was a pretty fabulous dinner spooned over rice. The flavors are BIG but nothing is particularly bad for you. In fact, between the chickpeas and the kale, this is quite good for you.

So get yourself some chickpeas, get yourself some kale and throw a party for your mouth. Congratulations: you’re now onboard the kale bandwagon.

NOTE: This recipe is called “Spicy Chickpeas…” but I mean “spicy” in the sense that there are lots of spices in the mix. It’s not hot spicy. If you want hot spicy chickpeas, that’s super easy. Throw in some Chiles de Arbol into the mix along with the rest of the spices. Or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Or some chopped raw chiles in with the onions. It’s very easy to make these Spicy Chickpeas truly spicy.

14 thoughts on “Spicy Chickpeas with Curry Leaves and Kale”

  1. I remember when kale was the bastard child of the vegetable world. My mom used to make kale, carrot, apple juice for me as a kid and I grew to love the leafy green. Now kale is so in vogue with some bars even making kale juice cocktails. Kale is now too cool for school. Poor kale can’t win, lol :-).

  2. Are you sure about the mustard seeds? That doesn’t sound like it would go in a curry, especially that much. Do they taste like mustard? What do they add/do to the dish?

    Sorry, I’m making this tonight and want it to taste good!

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      I threw them in but you can just as easily leave them out. It’s hard to say what they contribute but they certainly don’t take away from anything. Up to you!

    1. I wouldn’t substitute curry powder for curry leaves… they are completely different. You can find curry leaves at an Indian store. If you don’t have any, just leave them out and don’t try to substitute.

  3. Mohan Kulasingam

    Hi Adam,
    I am making this curry as I write this message now. The house smells lovely. The only thing I forgot is the mustard seeds, but I think the dish will survive. Looking forward to having this with a bowl of steamed Japanese white rice.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Mohan Kulasingam

  4. Mohan Kulasingam

    The dish is done and it’s better than divine. My partner is having seconds. I didn’t have any can tomatoes, So I used fresh tomatoes. The curry tastes amazing as if each ingredients are ping ponging each other!
    Thanks for making my night.
    Mohan Kulasingam

  5. Nice base recipe! Thanks for posting, esp. the photos. I had to change it up a little as one family member can’t stomach tomatoes, so I used butternut squash and coconut milk. All other ingredients the same. The squash sort of cooks down until it is like crushed tomato consistency and the coconut milk was the unsweetened variety for a liquid with a mild interest. Everyone enjoyed, thanks again for the great post.

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