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.