30-minute vegan coconut chickpea curry is perfect for a spicy, one-pot, budget-friendly curry for a satisfying plant-based weeknight dinner.
⭐ Recipe Highlights
A cozy curry recipe that delivers in the flavor department is always a great find. When you can use budget-friendly pantry ingredients, that’s even better.
A spice profile from generous measures of garam masala and curry powder and a sauce that's a classic blend of tomatoes and coconut milk. Simple ingredients and a super easy cooking process with deliciously addictive results - that's pure joy.
Want to skip the coconut milk? You’re in the right place because this recipe comes with some ideas if you realize you’re out or want a substitute. Yep, creamy coconut chickpea curry, sans coconut milk - you aren't missing out on this one.
And for more ideas? Check out the 19 best vegan substitutes for coconut milk.
📋 Main Ingredients, Notes & Substitutions
Curry powder – Use a curry powder of your choice. If s a hot variety, you may want to cut back on the cayenne pepper.
Garam masala – With that distinctively spicy blend, garam masala has an entirely different flavor than curry powder. Garam masala is traditionally used in Indian food. Curry powder is a British invention. Brands of either can vary slightly in the spice mix. So stock up when you find one you love.
Cayenne pepper – Again, how hot you want your curry is entirely up to you. Use a little or a lot or none at all. You can also use red chili flakes or a pinch of Indian chili powder if you need a substitute.
Light coconut milk – You can get a rich, creamy flavor from light rather than full-fat coconut milk. You can also use 1 cup of plant milk with a few drops of coconut extract as a substitute. Because plant milk is thinner, consider saving ½ a cup of aquafaba (juice from the chickpeas). Use a little bit as a thickener.
Chickpeas – 2 cans of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans provide substance and texture. A can of chickpeas is about 1 ½ cups. I've not tried this curry with other pulses, but kidney beans (red or white) would be a good option if you want a substitute.
Onions – I used a yellow onion, but red onions are equally good. About 1 cup diced will do.
Tomatoes – Canned tomatoes in juice have the best flavor. If you use tomatoes packed in water, you might consider adding a teaspoon or two of tomato paste for a bolder depth of flavor.
Fresh cilantro – If the whole family likes cilantro, add ¼ of a cup, chopped, at the end of cooking. This disperses the flavor. You can also use cilantro as a garnish which is a safe bet because not everyone likes it.
Lime juice – Although we prefer lime juice with this curry, lemon juice is a perfectly acceptable alternative. If you are making this dish for the first time, add the juice of ½ a lime, then taste and add more if you want it zestier.
🔪 Pro tips & notes
Like a broken record, I’ll tell you again – if you are sautéing without oil (all my recipes do), heat your pot or large pan over medium heat first. A hot surface and frequent stirring keep the onions from sticking. This isn’t just about a vegan curry recipe – it applies to all recipes.
Sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes, stirring in the garlic and spices. You can deglaze the bottom of the pot by adding ¼ a cup of water. Use a wooden spoon to pick up the onions and all those aromatic spices that might be stuck to the bottom.
Note: If you want to use a little oil, use olive or coconut oil to sauté the onions. You will still want to deglaze after adding the spices.
Once you add the tomatoes, break them up if there are larger pieces or if you use cherry tomatoes. You don’t need to puree them unless you want a smoother texture.
After mixing in the coconut milk and chickpeas, let the curry simmer for 10 minutes or more. This thickens the sauce and merges the flavor.
At the of cooking, add the lime juice and chopped cilantro. At this point, taste it and adjust the lime juice. This is the time to add salt or black pepper.
Timing tip: If you are serving this easy vegan curry with brown rice (we recommend brown basmati rice), start it at the beginning of cooking. If you’re serving curry with cauliflower rice, then time it accordingly.
💭 Common Questions
Although you could make chickpea curry in the Instant Pot, it will take more time. Of course, if you only have an instant pot, you can use that and cook it using the sauté or slow cooker setting. You can also use a pressure cooker for cooking dry chickpeas as a substitute for canned.
Look for garam masala at the grocery store in the Indian food section. You can also find it in specialty stores that have South Asian foods.
Chopped fresh spinach, baby spinach, or thawed frozen spinach is a healthy addition to this easy vegan chickpea curry. If using frozen spinach, press out the excess moisture after thawing it. Allow about 5 minutes for the spinach to wilt.
🍴 Serving Suggestions
Although we always think of rice when discussing curry, if you want to shake it up, consider serving it with noodles. Or just scoop up big bowls and with a bready side. Because this is a saucy curry, it's also delicious over baked potato – the ultimate comfort food!
In addition to a little chopped cilantro, you can garnish the curry with finely chopped red onion or slices of green or red chili.
🍛 What to serve with Chickpea Curry
🌡️ Meal prep / Storage / Freezing
This is a great recipe to include in your weekly meal prep because it takes just an extra onion and some garlic to chop. It will take just 1 burner on the stovetop.
Let the curry cool to room temperature, then place it in an airtight container. It keeps for 4-5 days or can be frozen for months.Print
30-Minute Vegan Coconut Chickpea Curry
30-minute vegan coconut chickpea curry is perfect for a spicy, budget-friendly, one-pot curry for a satisfying plant-based weeknight dinner.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Curry
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes (15 ounces)
- 2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (15-ounce cans)
- 1 can of light coconut milk (see notes for substitute)
- 1 lime, juiced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- Salt and/or black pepper to taste
- Heat a pot or large pan to medium heat. Then add the onions and cook them for 3-4 minutes to soften them.
- Add the garlic, curry powder, and garam masala. Mix the spices with the onions, and then add ¼ a cup of water to deglaze the pan.
- Pour in the tomatoes, then add the coconut milk and chickpeas. Let the curry simmer for 10 minutes. If necessary, break up larger pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Add the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Stir, taste, adjust the spices and add salt or black pepper if desired.
- If you plan to serve chickpea curry with long grain rice, start it before making the curry – this is a quick recipe.
- Substitute coconut milk with 1 cup of plant milk, a drop or two of coconut extract, and ½ cup of aquafaba (the juice from the chickpeas). For more ideas, check out 19 vegan substitutes for coconut milk.
- Skip the cilantro if you don’t like or have it.
Keywords: vegan coconut chickpea curry, no coconut milk