Kala chana – Kaale chane is a North Indian chickpea curry, a dry preparation made using brown chickpeas. This is usually served with Pooris / puris, the deep fried Indian bread made using whole wheat flour. A handful of ingredients combine with cooked brown chickpeas to give this hearty and simple Indian dish.
I have learnt of this recipe for Kala Chana made in a Punjabi household from a dear friend who is relocating to Riyadh this week. She learnt it from her Punjabi friend. And that’s how traditional family recipes go around from a Punjabi kitchen into a Tamilian kitchen. S had a tough time explaining to me what Kaala chana – the base ingredient was. I asked her if it was Sundal chana and she said NO. It is just kala chana.
I take pride in the fact that I have a fair knowledge of most Indian and quite a few global ingredients. And that I couldn’t place this bean was just not an easily digestible (pun intended) fact. On my way back from her house, I stopped by at a local ‘kirana’ (grocery) store and asked for 250 g of ‘Kala chana’ – the bigger variety. There are two sizes of the same beans.
I also bought two of the other main spices that go into this uniquely Punjabi recipe. My friend’s mom also brought to light the fact that it is this chana that is served on the way to Vaishno Devi temple before the crack of dawn. I can imagine that this piping hot chana on a dark cold morning would indeed be a welcome treat. That too when offered as a prasad, it is relished even more.
Apart from onions, there are only two spices that lend their flavour to this Kala Chana. They are not very commonly used in Indian dishes, so you may need to stock up on them before venturing into making this recipe. They are black cardamom with a strong camphor like aroma and Shah Jeera or Caraway seeds. If you don’t have them at home or cannot buy them, I have given you a substitute in the recipe notes. But the flavour of this dish without black cardamom and caraway seeds may not end up like the original.
Love Chickpeas? Try this Kale and Chickpeas Curry
Serving suggestion for Kala Chana
Kala Chana goes best with Puris. If mangoes are in season, aamras, which is ripe mango puree, and a potato curry with a thin gravy go very well to complete the meal.
Kala Chana Nutrition Facts:
They are a concentrated source of nutrients like protein, fibre, calcium and iron. 1 cup of cooked kala chana provides 360 calories, 17 grams of fibre and 19 grams of protein. Typically one would each 1/2 cup of cooked chana in a meal, so that gives you almost 10 grams of protein, which is excellent. Like most beans, this is also 60% carbohydrate, so it is not exactly a low-carb ingredient. It does make a healthy ingredient to include as a part of a nutritious diet.
Recipe for Kala Chana
- 1/2 cup chana dry brown chickpeas
- 1 pinch baking soda
- 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1/2 tsp shajeera caraway seeds
- 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 medium onions very finely chopped
- 2 green chillies slit
- salt to taste salt
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves for garnish
- To prepare Kala Chana, there is overnight prep involved to rehydrate the brown chickpeas. Soak the brown chickpeas overnight (or minimum 8 hours) in plenty of water with a pinch of baking soda. They will swell up to almost 3 times their original size. Drain and keep aside.
- Place the drained brown chickpeas in a pressure cooker and cover with 4 cups of water with a pinch of baking soda and asafoetida. After 4 whistles, keep the flame on sim (lowest setting) for around 10 minutes and turn off the flame. Open cooker when it has cooled.
- In a heavy bottom cast iron pan / kadai (Don't use non-stick pan here if you want the best results) - heat a tbsp of oil. Throw in the black cardamom and shah jeera. After 30 seconds, put in the ginger garlic paste and saute till golden in colour. Now add in the finely chopped onions.
- Now comes the call for patience. Keep the flame between medium-high. Let the onions get brown and as they just start sticking to the bottom, add a few tsp of water to 'deglaze' the pan or loosen up the burnt bits. Let the flame be on medium high and keep repeating this procedure of letting the water evaporate, onions starting to stick to the pan and deglazing with water some 5-6 times. You would be using roughly 1/2 cup of water during the entire process which will take upto 20 minutes.
- The result of this process will be blackish brown caramelized onions, turned extremely soft and superbly RICH in flavour - both from its own caramelization and infusing the flavours of the spices used. Using a non-stick pan will not give you the depth of flavour that is the cornerstone of this recipe.
- By this time, the chana in the cooker would have cooled off. Open the cooker lid and check if the Chana are cooked to a soft consistency. They should crush easily between your thumb and index finger with a slight pressure. Black chickpeas are quite thick skinned so they will never cook to a mush, which is why you can safely overcook them in a pressure cooker without expecting a slush in the end.
- Drain the cooked chana. Reserve the liquid. Add the cooked chana to the onions. Also put in the slit green chillies and salt. Keep the flame on medium high and let the chickpeas cook some more with the onion mix. Add the reserved liquid little by little if you find the curry going too dry. In all, let them all simmer together happily for some 15 minutes. If by chance the chickpeas were old and they didn't succumb to pressure cooking, you can do one more round of the whole curry in the cooker for around 5 minutes.
- Remove from flame. Garnish with some fresh coriander. Serve with freshly made hot puris.
- Please don't skimp on the onion sauteeing time or the second simmering time. Trust me, slow cooking brings out some amazing flavours. And I'm surprised the hasty cook in me is actually telling you this. The long cooking time makes up for the lack of too many ingredients and spices. This is simplicity at its best. Although this is the first time I've made this one, it's definitely going to be a regular in my home. Try it and you'll be happy you made this. So will your guests.
- I'd also like to reiterate 'No non-stick pan for this one please'.
- You could easily try this in one of those slow cookers, plug it in and wake up to a beautiful breakfast. If you do try that way, please let me know the results.
- The chickpeas are a tad heavy on digestion if you eat it for dinner. Breakfast or lunch are the best times so that it gets digested by the time you go to sleep.
- If you don't have shahjeera or caraway seeds, use regular jeera (cumin seeds). You can use green cardamom instead of black cardamom, but the strong flavour will be missing.
bay leaf and cinnamon?P.S: I love your new template!
Good Morning nandita, My guess is anardana and javitri (mace). Just a wild guess.
Is it cinnamon and cloves?I love this with halva-poori,traditionally also made on Ram Navmi in Punjabi households. The chana would get mixed with the halva, and the salty-sweet taste was devine…brings back childhood memories. Quick with the recipe…gotta make this.
Recipe is up..and the secret spices are….(check the post for that now)
I love this Nandita!!!! But your version is a little different…. must try it out 🙂 The new look is good 🙂
Hey Nandita,thanks a million for posting this recipe.I just soaked some black chana yesterday and not knowing what to do with it,decided to make sundal with it(Just simple tempering and addition of fresh coconut.Now I have one more recipe to look forward to with black chana.:)
Hi NanditaNice recipe. I have saved it. Will surely try it out.
I love your holiday template. Looks great!I love this recipe, too! Lovely photos!Have a good trip and Happy holidays!Paz
Nandita: are these the same black chana dal used in southern/Kerala cuisine to make “Varatha aratchi kadala” that goes with puttu? with some coconut and a spicy sauce…
Wish u and ur family a very hapy holiday!HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Yum.. Nandita.. That curry looks delicious. Have a very Happy Holidays. See you in the new year.
nandita, I just saw that I didn’t respond to your comment/query under my cranberry pudding post. I am sorry for the delay. Regarding substituting molasses with jaggery, I have no experience with that. But that sounds like a good idea. Let me know if you try it. Are cranberries available there? I don’t remember seeing it in india. Well, actually I haven’t done any grocery shopping in India, so I don’t know what they have or don’t have. 🙂 Good luck! Black chana looks great. I love black chana.
Hey Nandita,jsut dropped by to say hello and compliment u on your blog which is very nice …wish u and your family a merry xmas and a happy new yr
NanditaWishing you and your hubby a very Happy New Year
Enjoy your vacation, Nandita.May the new year bring in cheer, happiness and blessings to you and your family!Happy New Year!!SailajaBtw, that’s a nice recipe using kala channa.
Wishing peace, health, and happiness in 2007 and always. Happy New year to you and your family !
WIsh you an incredibly HAPPY NEW YEAR. Enjoy !
Here’s Wishing you a very Happy New Year Nandita. May God bless you and your family with all the happy things in this coming year.Cheers, Nidhi.
Nandita wishing you a new year with lots of happiness,health and prosperity!
Hi Nandita,miss you!Wishing you a very happy new year!!Aparna
Hi!!HAPPY NEW YEAR!!Have A Blessed New Year to u n ur family.Good daY!
Happy New year, Nandita! Just tagged you for a meme. Take it up once you’re back and only if you want to! 🙂
hey nandita,Thanks for this superb and very tasty recipie… i tried it only last night… I have a few queries, though, before that i must say, i made a few changes in this recipies myself… while cooking chana i added whole garam masala, and since i didnot have iron skillet i made it in an aluminium kadai… the result was awesome… but about deglazing the onions and turning them in to blackish brown, my didn’t turn so… i cooked onions for almost half an hour… then my patience gave up and i added chana… i am not sure what did i do wrong…
Hi Zahabiya- Welcome to ST!I did it in an aluminium kadai myself. Did you take just the reqd amount of oil / ghee, too much oil and they will never burn. Besides did you add a bit of sugar to help caramelize?Anyway, if it tasted good, it is perfect. Thanks for trying out!
Just stumbled upon your kala channa recipe. The trouble you have taken to explain it is awesome , now for just that I am trying it out today.Thanks so much
Thanks for the recipe. I tried out your recipe with whatever ingredients I had and mixed in some others. I did use a non-stick pan though, sorry :-), but it still came out nice.
Hi Nandita, What a collection of recipes! Thanks for sharing. I tried the kala chana recipe last night. Turned out great. What can go wrong with the detailed instructions and accurate measures. I will post it later today on my blog. Thanks again.
Hi, Nandita finally got around to trying out your kala channa recipe and-WOW!My family just loved it.All you food lovers, you must try this one out. Thanks ever so much .
Thanks, Nandita, for your recipe. I tried it out today and everyone in my family, including my picky son, loved it.
Hi NanditThanks for the plug.. never thot u would post one of my recipies… makes me think of asking for royalties….Love
Hi,I’ve had a tin of Kana Chana in the cupboard for ages and have been wondering what to do with it, so thanks for the recipe.
U r a life saver… m gonna make this tomorrow to surprise my husband :))))
Thank you! I recently bought 5 lbs of these chickpeas, without ever having even heard of them before. I wanted to make them tonight, so I came online to find recipes, and saw yours. I’ve just finished cooking and I love it– so unlike anything I’ve ever tried before!
today i tried your recipe and it came out great!! thankyou for posting this..
amazing results, great detail in recipe. thanks much
white chana was the food of roman soldiers. black chana is even more nutritious. very less flatulence.
Hi there, I’m the photo editor at The Daily Meal and we’d like to use your photo of black chickpeas for a piece we’re doing on black and orange foods. Please let me know who to credit it to. Email me at [email protected]. Thanks!!
I tried this out today and got lots of compliments…yes the onions were a pain but the pot was cleaned out:)
so many things to talk about for this post…let me first compliment you on the beautiful recipe , i loved it to the core, am bookmarking it,will make it exactly the way you did,Wonderful blog & good post. You can post your ad for free…
I am not sure what you mean when you write “shah jeera or caraway seeds”. Does it mean one could either use shah jeera OR caraway seeds? Or, does it imply caraway seeds is the English name for shah jeera? In other words shah jeera and caraway seeds are one and the same thing? The two are entirely different things with very different and distinct tastes and flavors. Caraway seeds are used in the manufacture of Woodward’s Gripe Water for colicky babies and has a sweetish smell and taste. Kala jeera is used in pulaos, biryanis, and garnish for Indian dishes, including raita etc. A clarification would indeed be helpful.
Black cumin seeds are more appropriate I suppose. In the absence of this, use regular cumin seeds.
I am so glad I tried the Kala Chana recipe…. used my cast iron pan and was totally worth the time .. delicious delicious … the cardamom and caramelised onions … amazing flavor… thanks for the recipe!
glad you tried it 🙂 It’s a simple recipe but a bit timeconsuming 🙂