Kala Chana (Black Chickpea Curry)

Kala Chana Masala – Black chickpea curry. This was a staple curry at home when we were children. Every Friday my mum would make this curry with boiled basmati rice.

Kala chana is a delicious, filling and protein rich curry. It has a low glycemic index which makes it perfect for a health balanced healthy diet and is excellent for growing up kids and people who are into sports or need lots of energy.

This is a simple curry to make and adding basic ingredients like onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes, potatoes accompanied with regular Indian spices gives the curry a lovely rounded flavourful taste. To make this Punjabi dish, add onion, garlic and ginger and make the sauce thick with some yogurt, cream or butter. This recipe is the Gujarati version by my mum with a Punjabi twist to it. The curry has a thin soup like consistency and can be relished as a healthy soup, or with boiled rice and chapattis.

Before cooking the chana, soak them overnight to soften them. When I make chana I do not discard the water in which they are cooked and use it for making the sauce. I strongly recommend cooking the chana in a pressure cooker rather than in a pot. In a pressure cooker, the chana cook much faster than in a pot, which can takes hours. Chana might be difficult to digest for some people, so it is important to ensure they are thoroughly cooked and a soft when pressured between the fingers. Also, adding mustard, cumin and asafoetida can help in the digestion of chana.

This is a warm comforting recipe for the winter which is filling and satisfying.

Kala Chana (Black Chickpea Curry)

  • Servings: 4-5 people
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

1 cup of dried kala chana (soaked in water overnight or for at least 8-9 hours)
1 medium size red onion (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves (optional)
1 heaped teaspoon ginger (optional)
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of asafetida
2-3 fresh tomatoes or 2 tablespoons of canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin and coriander powder
2-5g jaggery or as required (I suggest you start with a small quantity first and then add if required)
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
salt as required

Soak the kala chana overnight or for at least 8-9 hours. Pressure cook them until soft when pressed between fingers.

Finely chop onions, garlic, whole clove and cinnamon stick. I used a mini food chopper for mine, but you can use whole spice if this is what you prefer.

Red onions, garlic, ginger, whole cloves and cinnamon
Red onions, garlic, ginger, whole cloves and cinnamon

Add oil to a pan, heat and add mustard seeds. Allow them to crackle for a few seconds.

Add pinch of asafetida followed by the chopped onions, garlic, ginger and whole spice mix. Sauté for a few minutes until slightly brown. Omit onions and garlic according to your preference and go straight to adding the whole spices along with the tomatoes. 

Mustard seeds, asafetida, onions, garlic, ginger and whole spices
Mustard seeds, asafetida, onions, garlic, ginger and whole spices

Add the tomatoes.

Tomatoes added
Tomatoes added

Sauté till the oil separates the onion-garlic and spice mixture. If you have omitted onions and garlic, the oil can still be separated from the tomatoes. If you are using fresh tomatoes, it is likely to take a few minutes longer depending on the size they have been chopped to; finely chopped tomatoes will cook and separate from the oil quicker.

Oil separates from tomato mixture
Oil separates from tomato mixture

Then add the kala chana along with all of the water to the tomato mixture. Also add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, cumin and coriander powder, salt and jaggery. Stir well.

Kala chana added with water and spices
Kala chana added with water and spices

Simmer at medium heat.

Lastly sprinkle the chana with coriander leaves and serve boiled rice or rotli.

Kala Chana
Kala Chana


Best Wishes,


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