This chickpea curry is so flavorful, yet so simple to prepare. Just a few minutes of prep and a press of a button on the slow cooker, and the next thing you know, the smell of curry is wafting through the kitchen.
This dish is vegan, gluten-free, and immensely delicious. To build flavor without piling up dishes, everything is cooked right in the slow cooker – no stove-top browning or pre-cooking required!
Dried vs. Canned Chickpeas
I use dried chickpeas for this recipe since they hold up better to the longer cooking time, are economical to cook with, and are so much more flavorful than canned.
I don’t usually soak the chickpeas for this recipe ahead of time since the cooking time is so long that you don’t need to. If you prefer to soak your beans for any reason, your total cooking time will probably be shorter.
How to Make Chickpea Curry in the Slow Cooker
Just layer diced onion and the chickpeas in the slow cooker, then sprinkle curry powder over top. Sweet potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, and coconut milk follow. I love how the sweet potato breaks down, adding body and a hint of earthy sweetness to the dish.
How to Serve Chickpea Curry
I like to serve the steaming hot curry over a bowl of chopped raw spinach. The heat from the curry wilts the spinach perfectly as you stir it all together. I also love to add a nice squeeze of lime juice to wake the whole thing up and add some brightness.
Freeze Chickpea Curry for Later!
This dish freezes beautifully. I freeze in pint-sized Mason jars, so I have a single-serving, microwave-safe dinner ready to go! Just defrost in the fridge and warm in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Tips for Success
- I prefer white-fleshed sweet potatoes for this recipe because they're starchier and hold up better to longer cooking. If you use orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, they will break down a little more and make a thicker, creamier sauce -- which is also good!
- You might think there's not enough liquid in the pot to cook the chickpeas -- resist the temptation to add additional water! The vegetables release a lot of liquid during cooking, which is typically sufficient for cooking the chickpeas. Check and stir the curry after 4 hours, or whenever you're able, and add another 1/2 cup of water if the pot seems dry.
- Exact cooking time will depend on your slow cooker and your chickpeas. The first time you make this, give yourself some buffer room with the cooking time to make sure the chickpeas have finished cooking by the time you plan to serve. (It's fine if the curry cooks for longer, too.)
- This makes a curry with a thick tomato-y sauce. If you'd like a creamier, more coconut-y sauce, stir in a second can of coconut milk after cooking.
- To reduce cooking time, soak the chickpeas overnight, skip the extra water, and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours.
Chickpeas Still Crunchy After Cooking?
Slow cookers are tricky since temperature and evaporation vary from model to model. Dried beans can also be tricky! Their cooking time can vary depending on age, quality, and whether or not you soaked them.
- If they're a bit al dente, but seem to be cooking ok (if slowly), just keep letting them cook in the slow cooker, checking them every half hour.
- If your beans are still fairly crunchy after cooking, it may be that your slow cooker's temperature runs a little hot (beans cook best at lower temperature). Try transferring the curry to the stovetop on the lowest heat and letting it simmer for a little longer.
- If your beans are STILL crunchy, it might be that they're a little old. These beans will just take an extra-long time to become tender (and even then, they might be a touch crunchy in the very middle). Keep on cookin' and you'll get there eventually!
One last suggestion: If you're pretty sure your beans are old — if, say, you pulled them from the back of the cupboard and can't remember when you bought them — then definitely let them soak overnight. Adding a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda or a teaspoon of salt to the soaking water can also help the beans soften.
Love Chickpeas? Try These Recipes!
Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry With Sweet Potatoes and Red Peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound dried chickpeas, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 large white-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and diced (See Recipe Note)
- 1 large or two small sweet bell peppers, diced (red or yellow, about 1/2 pound)
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15.5 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 diced serrano, jalapeño, or fresno chili (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups spinach, roughly chopped, to serve
- Cooked rice, to serve (optional)
- Chopped cilantro, to serve
- Lime or lemon wedges, to serve
Combine the ingredients in the slow cooker:
Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker then add onion and stir to coat. Pour dried chickpeas on top, then sprinkle the curry powder evenly over the beans.
Follow with sweet potato, bell pepper, tomatoes, coconut milk, water, garlic, chili pepper (if using), and salt. Do not stir (leaving the chickpeas on the bottom and the sweet potatoes on top helps everything cook more evenly).
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours:
If you're around, stir the curry after about 4 hours and give it a check. At this point, the curry should seem soupy and the chickpeas will likely be edible, but still crunchy. If the slow cooker seems dry, add another half cup of water. (The curry will also be fine if you're not around to stir it.)
Total cooking time will depend on your slow cooker and your chickpeas. The curry can be served any time after the chickpeas are soft and tender.
It's also fine to if the curry cooks a little longer, or if you leave it on the "warm" setting for a while. The recipe is very forgiving! The curry will get thicker and creamier the longer it cooks.
Serve with spinach:
Stir the curry well. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Serve the curry over bowls of chopped spinach, stirring to wilt the spinach. (You can also stir the spinach directly into the curry if that's more convenient for you.)
Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Leftovers will keep for about a week or can be frozen for up to three months.