janet @ the taste space

Indian Chickpea Curry with Mango Powder (Amchoor Chana)

In Mains (Vegetarian) on April 13, 2013 at 6:19 AM

Most people probably roll their eyes when they hear you have dietary restrictions. I know my food choices can be a pain in the butt for some people but imagine combining it with other allergies and restrictions? I have a friend with a severe allergy to sulphites, another friend who won’t eat nightshades and beans and I recently met someone with some crazy diet for interstitial cystitis and I could only remember her telling me she eats no spices. I love trying to find meals we can enjoy together, though. I think the worse was when I was trying to find common meals I could share with my grandfather who needed a low potassium, low salt, and low cholesterol diet. The low potassium part made it the most challenging since he couldn’t eat any whole grains, beans, nuts or seeds which are my protein sources. Meal planning is like a fun puzzle for me although others probably find it a headache. :)

Recently I was asked to suggest meals fit for entertaining. Not usually a problem, because I keep a list for myself in case I forget. However, there was a caveat: no garlic, no onions, no leeks, no shallots, no green onions (no alliums). I know there are multiple reasons to avoid them (including those who are doing the FODMAPS thing), but they continue to be a staple in my diet. More than just aromatics, they have a lot of health benefits, too.

Never daunted by a special diet request, I mustered up a few suggestions (Raw Zucchini AlfredoRaw Tacos skipping the onion in the salsa, Thai Tempeh Wraps with a Mango Ginger SauceSushi Salad Bowl with Avocado and Asparagus, among others with minor modifications). In the end, Ellen made my Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale Curry and it received high praises from her and her guests (YA!).

The request planted a seed in my head, though. What kinds of meals are naturally free from alliums? I know some people just don’t like chopping garlic and onion, and some Indian recipes call for asafoetida as a substitute. Thus, I looked through my Indian bible, 660 Curries, and while I didn’t pick a recipe with asafoetida, I picked one without onions and garlic.

Indian Chickpea Curry with Mango Powder

Cooking without the typical aromatics meant we needed flavour from elsewhere: loads of savoury spices. Cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander, all the good spices Indian curries are made from. The special spice, this time, was amchur/amchoor (mango powder).

I’ve used amchoor before in chaat masala used with Malai kofta and a warm chickpea and mango salad. It is made from dried green mangoes, conferring a sour tangy flavour, not unlike vinegar or lemon juice. Since I substituted tomato passata for fresh tomatoes, this is a very pantry-friendly recipe when you run out of even the most basic perishables (onions, garlic and lemons) and don’t feel like going grocery shopping when it is snowing in April (!). The cilantro does perk it up, but not necessary.

Anyways, in essence, you are making chickpeas cooked in a nicely flavoured tomato sauce. No fuss, you simply simmer then away for a while as you tend to something else. Like most curries, they make fabulous leftovers and I ended up enjoying them overtop fresh green spinach as a quasi salad.

Do you feel overwhelmed or welcome the challenge of dietary restrictions? :)

Indian Chickpea Curry with Mango Powder

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair.

Indian Chickpea Curry with Mango Powder
Adapted from 660 Curries

1 tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods (I used green)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup tomato passata (or crushed tomatoes)
2 tbsp mango powder (amchur/amchoor)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups cooked chickpeas, with cooking water reserved
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, divided
1 tsp salt, or to taste

1. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add cardamom pods, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks and heat for a few seconds, until fragrant.

2. Stir in tomatoes, mango powder, coriander, cumin, chili flakes, turmeric, chickpeas and half of the cilantro. Add salt to taste. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and allow to simmer for 25 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir occasionally.

3. Season to taste, top with reserved cilantro and serve overtop spinach or brown rice.

Serves 4 with a side.


  1. Looks great! My fiancé is allergic to onions so it’s great to see specifically vegan onion-free recipes!

  2. I grew up with a mother and grandmother with multiple food allergies (dairy, wheat, beef, tomato, ham, pineapple, mango, broad beans, all apples bar red delicious apples, grapes, and so on), so it ain’t no thangggggg. This looks super good! Though, of course, I couldn’t make it for my mama bear and grandma, on account of the tomato and mango.

  3. I have never heard of mango powder, but I am now very intrigued! This looks fantastic and I like that you put so much effort in to trying to find meals all of your friends can share. It can be tough at times, but as you point out, it isn’t impossible!

  4. I’m with you and definitely find it fun to menu plan around dietary restrictions! Adds a little bit of excitement and creativity to every meal! I’ve had amchoor powder in my pantry for ages and haven’t used it! This dish is definitely happening in my life soon!

  5. I am the queen of restrictions lately, so I am no stranger to finding substitutions, in fact I love the challenge! I love all the flavours you used and I bet this is totally delicious!

  6. I love how you took a meal that may look simple since the main ingredient is chickpeas, and turned it into a dish that sounds so flavourful from all the spices. Plus I’m always looking for ways to use my mango powder! I find menu planning to be a fun challenge too, but I’ve never had the challenge of catering to such restrictive diets. I’m glad you were able to help!

  7. I agree – taking multiple dietary restrictions and preferences into consideration is like a puzzle, and the sign of a good chef when you can meet expectations.

    Like Kari, I’d never heard of mango powder either! This recipe looks great.

  8. I agree, finding foods to share for people with restrictions can be a challenge, but I find it to be a fun challenge. I love amchoor powder and probably don’t cook with it enough. I’ll bet it was just the right touch in your curry without onions. Thanks for sending it to MLLA!

  9. Just bought the amchoor powder (not that I needed another spice in the pantry!). I’m actually surprised you like it, Janet, since you describe it as a sour, tangy taste—that to me sounds like sumac, which I believe you said you don’t care for? Definitely look forward to working with this new spice (I guess it’s okay to call it a spice, even if it’s just dried food—nomenclature is puzzling me ever since I recently learned that almonds are fruit and not really nuts!).

    • The sumac aversion surprises me too because I love most things sour: lemon, lime, pomegranate, etc. I think you’ll like the amchur powder, too. :) I wish I had more recipes for it, though.

  10. Part 2 of my triple-header with your recipes. Served over collard greens (sauteed with a little rice vinegar, garlic, and cumin). Thought it was just a little blah until we added a couple of teaspoons of garam…and then we loved it. The amchoor is somewhat like the Indian version of the Middle Eastern sumac.

    Not sure whether garlic and onions would have added to this or not. It was plenty flavorful (with the addition of the garam).

    • Yes, this was much more of a lighter tomato sauce than a heady, spice-infused curry that I typically make. The finishing garam masala sounds like a delicious idea for my next round. It is so easy to make, I will have to find more ways to use my amchoor powder. If you discover other great recipes with it, please send them my way. :)

  11. […] head. I don’t like chickpeas with vinaigrettes, preferring them pan-roasted or smothered in thick sauces. However, as soon as we tasted this salad, both Rob and I were […]

  12. […] elsewhere) – Plantains and Cabbage with Pigeon Peas – Toasted Split Green Lentils with Spinach – Chickpeas with Mango Powder – Minty Rice Layered with Chickpeas and Greens (Chickpea and Spinach Biryani) – Tempeh Tikka Masala […]

  13. […] Life made Split Pea Khichari with Dill, Tomatoes and Onions   Janet of The Taste Space made Indian Chickpea Curry with Mango Powder (Amchoor Chana)   PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds made Fresh Toor Gravy | Fresh Pigeon Pea Gravy | Green Tuar […]

  14. […] combined with Indian flavours. While I have used amchoor powder (raw mango powder) to make a nice chana masala, this was a fun twist since it was hot and sweet, too. The heat came from our newest infatuation: […]

  15. […] not authentic (my Indian Chickpea Curry with Mango Powder is more traditional), but this curry uses mangoes instead of mango powder for a fun twist on […]

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