Sour Chana Masala (Indian sour curried garbanzo beans)

If you are looking for an easy recipe to spice up your menu, try this delicious dish. This robust vegetarian curry, commonly served on the streets of Northern India, is robust enough that it will satisfy both vegans and meat lovers and it is loaded with flavor, thanks to the array of delicious spices. Be sure to choose organic spices to avoid any unnecessary pesticide exposure.

The Research

A study in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology examined Indian spices for organochlorine pesticide residues. Scientists tested multiple samples of commonly exported spices from India including cumin, chili pepper, dry ginger, caraway seed, anise seed, black pepper, fenugreek, turmeric, and coriander. They found that most samples tested positive for organochlorine residues. Due to the toxicity of these chemicals , the authors conclude, “Spices should be monitored periodically as these products are exported in various countries.” Luckily, organochlorine pesticides are banned in organic production, so avoiding them is as easy as choosing organic spices!

Photo credit: Jennifer Photo credit: Jennifer

The Recipe

Makes 6 servings


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. organic cumin seeds
  • 1 organic medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. organic ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 4 organic garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 organic serrano chili (2 if you prefer more spice), finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. organic garam masala
  • 1 tsp. organic ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. organic turmeric
  • 2 cans of organic garbanzo beans, drained, liquid set aside
  • 4 large ripe organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tbsp. fresh organic lemon juice
  • 1 bunch fresh organic cilantro, coarsely chopped


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, onion, ginger, and chili. Stirring occasionally, fry the mixture until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, coriander, and turmeric to the onion mixture. Cook for 1 minute more, stirring occasionally. Now add the garbanzo beans, and tomatoes to the mixture. Stirring continuously, cook until the tomatoes break apart, about 10 - 15 minutes. Using a fork, coarsely mash about 1/3 of the garbanzo beans in the pot. Add 2 cups of the reserved garbanzo bean liquid. Reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh lemon juice. Top with fresh cilantro and serve hot with steamed rice or naan.

pesticides, indian, spices, organophosphates, chick peas