Chickpea Curry with Cashew Cream and Green Chutney

April 18, 2016

The weather this month can’t decide between winter and spring. Which works for me, because my palate can’t decide between them either. I’m craving rich stews and warm curries while paradoxically wanting to eat fresh, vibrant herbs and salads.

Enter today’s recipe, which I have been enjoying on and off all winter. I first made it for a cooking demo at the Harvest event at the end of November. It was insanely popular. One woman commented: “I’ve never eaten a curry that tasted so good” which means, if I’m reading the situation correctly, that I should definitely post it to my blog.

This dish covers that lovely ground between soul-satisfying and palate-tingling: the tangy fresh chutney plays perfectly against the warm spices and rich cashew milk in the chickpea curry. It feels like both winter and spring in each bite. My favourite way to eat this curry is with some warmed whole wheat naan or chapati for scooping. A dollop of yogurt would not be remiss, but is entirely unnecessary when you have cashew milk already made and calling to you.

Homemade cashew cream (or milk) takes only a few easy minutes to make – much easier than homemade almond milk – and is so creamy and delicious that I am more and more frequently inclined to have some on hand.

The REAL star of the show here, though, is the green chutney. It’s adapted from the recipe in my Advanced Indian cooking class, where we serve it with Butter Chicken and homemade naan. The chutney can be made with fresh mint or cilantro, or a mixture of both, and can be served with any kind of mild creamy curry. It’s packed full of flavour, spice, and tang, and really jazzes up any food you want to add it to.

Green chutney and grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow night, anyone?

Serves 4.
This recipes calls for homemade cashew cream which takes only a couple of minutes to make. Feel free to substitute a store bought cashew cream or milk in its place.
This is a relatively quick and comforting weeknight vegetarian curry. The fresh green chutney ratchets up the flavour and freshness.

Chickpea Curry
1-1/4 tsp ground cumin, preferably roasted
3/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp – 1/2 tsp cayenne (depending on your tolerance for spiciness)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tb grape seed or rice bran oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb minced or grated fresh ginger
1/2 to 3/4 cup pureed canned tomatoes (I used tomato passata)
up to 1 cup water, as necessary
2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned = OK), drained and rinsed
3/4 cup cashew cream (recipe follows), or more, to taste
Optional – 2 to 4 cups baby spinach
Optional – whole wheat naan or chapati, for serving (I like Santosh brand)

Cashew Cream
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup boiling water
1 -1/2 cups cold water
pinch salt

Green Chutney
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp oil or ghee
1 cup well-packed fresh mint leaves OR cilantro
2 jalapenos, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1 – 2 tsp raw sugar


In a small bowl or ramekin, combine the ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, garam masala and salt. Have all the other ingredients chopped, measured, and ready to go.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil with the mustard seeds until the seeds start to sputter and pop. Immediately add the cumin seeds, stir once, then add the minced ginger and garlic, stirring constantly and sauteing until fragrant, about 10 – 30 seconds. Turn the heat down, if necessary, if things seem to be burning or cooking too quickly.

Add the spices and saute until fragrant but not acrid, 10 – 20 seconds. Immediately add the tomatoes and a few tablespoons of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, adding more water as necessary, until the oil separates and pools on the surface of the tomatoes. This step will ensure that your spices have “bloomed” to their full potential of flavour.

Add the chickpeas (and more water, if necessary), bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Add the spinach, if using, and cashew cream, and simmer for a few minutes more. Taste to adjust the seasoning: you may want to add more salt, cashew cream, garam masala, or even a squeeze of lemon.

Cashew cream:
Makes 2 cups

Place cashews in a blender with the boiling water and pinch of salt. Cover and blend on low at first, for a few seconds. Remove plug in the middle of the lid to allow steam to escape. Slowly increase the blender speed to high, until cashews are completely pureed. While blender is running, pour cold water through the hole in the lid and blend until cashew cream is smooth, creamy and frothy. Cream may be used immediately, or refrigerated for later use. For purists, cashew cream can be strained through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth, but I find this unnecessary.

Green Chutney
makes about 1 cup
This chutney will last for several days in the refrigerator, but will lose its bright green colour after a few hours.

Heat a small saute pan over medium heat and heat the oil or ghee. Add the almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until almonds are golden and toasted. This will only take a few minutes – watch those almonds carefully! Scrape into a bowl and let cool.

Place toasted, cooled almonds in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl if necessary, until the chutney is finely chopped, almost pureed. taste and adjust to your preference by adding more lemon or sugar.

To serve the curry:
Place a serving of chickpea curry in a bowl, and top with a generous dollop of green chutney. Mix it in so that every bite has some of the delicious tang from the green chutney to offset the creamy curry. Serve with rice or warmed naan, if desired.


Comments (4)

  1. WOW! this looks amazing! thank you.
    i love your curry recipes!
    can’t wait to try this one too.- with gratitude, M

  2. Hello Heidi. So glad I have found your site. Your chickpea curry with cashew cream sounds divine. I love all curries (even though I am a serious wimp when it comes to heat) On that note, I am interested in making a Jamaican curry which I understand uses Tamarind. Do you by chance know where I might purchase fresh or Tamarind paste?

    1. Hi Ina – I’m sorry I missed your comment earlier! yes, you can find tamarind at Fisgard Market in Chinatown, in the Thai section of the store.

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