Coconut Chana Saag (Vegan, GF)

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Hello friends!

How is 2014 treating you so far? Made any resolutions yet? Come up with any goals for the new year? Or maybe you’re easing into January by slowly decreasing your chocolate/cookie/wine intake in preparation for new healthy habits.

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Personally, I’m easing into 2014 gently. There are still cookies and salted caramel bark in my freezer that need to be eaten, yo! And champagne in my fridge that needs drankin’. However, despite the way I present myself and my eating habits on this blog (cookies and cakes and sweet things galore), I actually eat fairly healthy on the regular.

One of my goals for 2014 is to give you, my dear readers, a more accurate representation of the way I typically eat. Generally speaking, I try to focus on the 80/20 rule – 80 percent of the time I try to eat healthy and wholesome – veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains, and 20 percent of the time I allow myself to indulge. Some days, the scale tips more in favor of indulging, and other days, it tips more in favor of eating healthy. It’s all about balance, friends.

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe    Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

This recipe for Coconut Chana Saag is wonderfully reflective of the way I tent to eat. Simple ingredients, easy preparation, and lots of flavor. I was gifted a new cookbook for Christmas – Isa Does it by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa Does It is full of easy and delicious vegan recipes, and I have already bookmarked about 20 recipes to try. If any of them are half as delicious as this Coconut Chana Saag, I have a very tasty 2014 ahead. And so do you!

Coconut Chana Saag | Once Upon a Recipe

Coconut Chana Saag (slightly adapted from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

This Coconut Chana Saag comes together quickly and easily. I served it over brown basmati rice, but you could also use quinoa, jasmine rice, or your favorite grain. Store leftovers in a sealed container and refrigerate, then enjoy throughout the week! Serves 6.

2 TBSP. coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

A knob of fresh ginger, minced (about 2 TBSP.)

2 TBSP. curry powder (I used Moghul curry powder)

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. garam masala

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

A pinch of cayenne pepper

1 24-ounce can whole tomatoes

2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 ounces of baby kale

1 14-ounce can of lite coconut milk

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for serving)

Juice of 1 lime

Cooked brown basmati rice (for serving)

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, garam masala, cumin, and cayenne and mix well. Allow the spices to roast for about a minute.

Add the tomato juice from the can, and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add the tomatoes from the can, squishing them with your fingers or mashing with a wooden spoon. Add the chickpeas and mix well. Cover the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale and stir until wilted, and then simmer for about 5 minutes more.

Add the coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice and heat through. Taste for seasoning. Allow to sit for 10-20 minutes (if possible), so that the flavors can mingle. It tastes even better the next day. Serve over brown basmati rice and add more fresh cilantro, if desired.

Have a great week! 🙂


  1. I try to have the same general attitude towards eating — I am hopeless with strict diets or cleanses but I honestly like eating these sorts of meals that make up most of my eating. Balance is always the best and most sustainable thing. Love how this looks, I’ve really been missing ethnic, spicy foods lately !!

    PS Lovvvely photos.

  2. I’m printing this out! Thanks, this looks delicious!

  3. P.S. Where did you find the crushed fennel seeds and garam masala? Thanks!

  4. Lovely! All ingredients are at hand….. Now to find the time. 🙂

  5. Will do 🙂

  6. It is sooooo cold here, I could definitely cuddle up with a bowl of this! I try and keep the 80/20 rule. Most times I find it a more 50/50 split hahaha!

  7. Cannot wait to try this recipe. I love the vibrant spices. Looks and sounds magnificent!

  8. I’m not much for resolutions, but I’ve set writing of 3 books among my goals for this year, so we’ll see how that’ll go 🙂 This looks such a vibrant dish and full of flavors, perfect for the weather we are having here. Cheers!

  9. Great recipe and excited to see more of what you cook up, I agree about balance! Have a great week Amanda!

  10. Hi Amanda!
    First, I love reading your blog, you are an inspiration! Last night I did not want to cook a meal, but then I remembered this recipe and it seemed simple and quick (also I had most of the ingredients at home), so I decided to give it a go.My husband (who is a massive meat eater)and I loved it!
    Thank you:)

    • Aww, that’s so wonderful to hear, Kenzie! You’re so sweet, and I’m so glad that the meal pleased your meat-loving husband! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. That looks insanely delicious! Being a vegetarian, it’s sometimes harder to get some savory-type meals on the table, but this looks like it will take the cake. Thanks!

  12. sprinklesandsauce says:

    Looks great and authentic!

  13. This looks delicious — I love Indian food and Indian spices! I make Indian inspired food quite frequently. I like that you used coconut milk in this one, too.

  14. This looks soooooo comforting! And healthy! I loveyyyy it.

  15. I’m making a tikka masala this week and had to special order the garam masala, so I know I’ll be looking for other ways to use it. This couldnt have come at a more perfect time, looks wonderful!

  16. Yumm!! I’m all about having my main meals balance out my ridiculously bad-for-you-but-so-good desserts. This looks perfect

    • Thanks Stephanie! Yep, it’s all about the balance! It’s still a pretty good deal though if you get to enjoy something like this as a healthy meal!

  17. Although its a pretty satisfying meal, by no means is this authentic Indian food. I was disappointed by the lack of consistency in flavor. The chana is quite a conglomerate of Thai and Indian food, so I wouldn’t suggest people believe it’s authentic Indian. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a fusion, gluten free meal then this hits the spot.

    • In no way did I suggest this was authentic Indian food – it’s simply a reflection of the food I enjoy eating. In any case, thank you for your review!

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