Punjabi Kala Chana Curry | Black Chickpeas

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Kale Chane, also known as Black Chickpeas or Bengal gram, is a popular legume widely consumed in various cuisines around the world. It is a highly nutritious and versatile ingredient that offers numerous health benefits. Kala Chana is native to the Indian subcontinent but has gained popularity and recognition globally due to its rich taste and nutritional value.

In terms of appearance, Kala Chana is similar to regular chickpeas but has a darker color, ranging from deep brown to black. The word “kala” in Hindi translates to black, hence its name. It is a member of the legume family and is scientifically known as Cicer arietinum.

Kala Chana is a good source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. It contains essential nutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Additionally, it is low in fat and has a low glycemic index, making it a suitable food choice for those following a balanced diet or managing specific health conditions.

Due to its versatility, Kala Chana can be prepared and enjoyed in various ways. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine, where it is often made into curries, stews, and salads. It can also be sprouted and consumed as a healthy snack or used in dishes like chaat (Indian street food). Kala Chana flour is used to make a popular Indian breakfast called besan chilla, which is a savory pancake.

From a nutritional perspective, Kala Chana offers several health benefits. Its high fiber content aids digestion, promotes a feeling of fullness, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. The iron content contributes to red blood cell production and helps prevent iron deficiency anemia. Additionally, its protein content supports muscle growth and repair, making it a valuable food source for vegetarians and vegans.

In conclusion, Kala Chana is a versatile legume that is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. Its unique flavor, coupled with its nutritional benefits, has made it a popular ingredient in various cuisines worldwide. Whether used in curries, salads, or snacks, Kala Chana provides a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet. We can serve it with chapati, vegetable pulao and butter roti.

 

What is Kala Chana

In Hindi, kala means “black “, and chana means “chickpea”, so kala chana translates to “black chickpea”. While this name is a bit of misnomer- the chickpea skin is actually brown or reddish brown, not black-the name refers to a particular variety of garbanzo bean is used in this dish. Kala Chana, also known as black chickpeas or Bengal gram, is a type of legume that belongs to the chickpea family. It is a variety of chickpeas that has a dark brown to black color, hence the name “kala” which means black in Hindi.

Kala Chana is widely cultivated and consumed in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is a staple ingredient in many regional cuisines and is highly valued for its nutritional content.

Like other legumes, Kala Chana is a rich source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. It is low in fat and cholesterol-free, making it a healthy food choice for vegetarians and vegans. Kala Chana is also gluten-free, which makes it suitable for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

The flavor of Kala Chana is nutty and slightly earthy, and its texture is firm when cooked. It has a dense and hearty texture, making it a popular ingredient in soups, stews, curries, and salads. Kala Chana can be soaked and cooked on its own or combined with other ingredients to create flavorful dishes.

Note: Due to their high fiber content, black chickpeas need to be cooked thoroughly. Some people may find it difficult to digest these, but I find that the Ayurvedic tradition of including spices-herbs like ginger, cumin, asafetida aids in their digestion.

Kala Chana Curry, then, is a delicious chickpea based curry in a gravy made from simple ingredients. Black chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices make up the bulk of this tasty Punjabi dish

If you are a fan of black chickpeas, then you should also try this spicy Kadala Kari from the Kerala cuisine and Ghugni from the Bihari cuisine.

About My Recipe

This yummy family recipe came to me from my mother. Her recipes are always simple, easy and delectable. This Kala Chana recipe is no exception, requiring just one pot and 30 minutes of active time to make.

I am particularly fond of the consistency of this Kala Chana curry. Because it is so flavorful it can be enjoyed by itself like a soup, or be paired with steamed rice or roti for a more filling meal.

This Kala Chana recipe can also be adjusted to your taste preferences. We like our curries to be at least moderately spicy, but if you prefer a more mild dish, simply pull back on how much chili you add to the gravy.

While we always use dried chana to make curries (which requires that they soak overnight), you can opt to use canned chickpeas instead if you are short on time. Just note that dried beans will always be less expensive than canned.

Kala Chana curry with a silver spoon in a blue rimmed bowl.

 

How to Make Kala Chana Curry

In the step-by-step guide, I will explain the Kala Chana recipe in a pressure cooker. Do not have a pressure cooker? Not to worry.

I have you sorted as I have listed the methods to make this curry in a pot/pan on a stove top and in an Instant Pot, below the Tips section and in the Notes section of the recipe card.

Soak Black Chickpeas and Sauté Curry Ingredients

  • Rinse 1 cup black chickpeas (kala chana) a couple of times in water. Then add 2.5 cups water and soak the kala chana overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.
  • After the black chickpeas have softened and become tender from the soaking, drain the extra water. Using a strainer, rinse the soaked chickpeas in water for a couple of times and set aside.
  • Next take a grinder jar and add 1.25 cup tomatoes, 1/2 cup onions, 3pieces ginger(1-inch each), 2-3 chilis and some water into it.
  • Make a smooth puree. Be sure the puree should be thick.
  • In a separate pan, heat oil or ghee over medium heat.
  • Add the prepared puree into it.
  • Cook until they become soft and mushy.
  • Sauté them on medium-low heat until the oil starts leaving the sides of the onion-tomato masala and the tomatoes begin to soften. You should see the tomatoes becoming mushy and pulpy.

Tip: Swap fresh tomatoes with tomato puree or canned tomatoes. Crush the canned tomatoes before you add them. For tomato puree, add about ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of it.

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon  turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon red chili powder,1 teaspoon coriander powder, and salt. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until the spices are well incorporated.
  • Make sure that cook the masala until it’s colour become golden brown. Now your masala is ready for kala chana. Keep aside for afterwards use.

Add water & Pressure Cook Kala Chana

  • Add the kala chana together with 1.5 cups water in the pressure cooker.
  • Pressure cook kala chana on a medium heat for 10 to 11 minutes or 10 to 12 whistles (or more, if needed), until the kala chana are cooked well and softened.
  • Now add the prepared masala in boiled chana.

Tip 1: If there is too much liquid in the gravy, then cook the chana without the lid until some water evaporates. You can also mash a few chana pieces for the gravy to thicken.

Tip 2: On occasions when I have time, I blend a ladle (roughly ¼ cup) of the cooked kala chana with some water to make a medium-thick paste and add it to the gravy. Mix this paste with the curry and simmer for a couple of minutes. This technique makes the curry taste fabulous and is one tip I highly recommend.

Final Step : Prepare Punjabi Tadka

  • Take a pan and pour some oil in it.
  • Now add 1 teaspoon red kashmiri red chili powder, 1 teaspoon jeera and fresh coriander leaves. Cook for a while and then add it to black chana.
  • When you get the desired consistency, sprinkle ½ teaspoon garam masala. Mix it well.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (optional) to the Punjabi kala chana curry.

Your Black Chana is ready to serve with Chapati, vegetable pulao and butter roti.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the Kala Chana curry hot with Indian breads – Roti or Paratha or Poori. Or enjoy it as a soup with some toasted bread. Pair with soft dinner rolls to soak the delicious gravy.

Rice is another best option to serve kala chana with. Use your preferred rice – Basmati Rice or any variety. Flavored rice recipes like Jeera Rice (cumin rice), Vegetable Rice & Ghee Rice are a few more options.

Storage

Leftover kala chana curry keeps well in the refrigerator for 1-2 days . Before serving, heat the curry in a pan and then serve it with a side of your choice.
Refrigeration: Transfer the cooked Kala Chana to an airtight container and refrigerate it. It can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Refrigeration: Transfer the cooked Kala Chana to an airtight container and refrigerate it. It can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing: If you want to store the cooked Kala Chana for a longer period, freezing is a suitable option. Follow these steps:

  • Allow the cooked Kala Chana to cool down completely.
  • Place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bags, removing any excess air.
  • Label the container or bag with the date.
  • Store it in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
  • Thawing and reheating: When you are ready to use the frozen Kala Chana, you can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Once thawed, you can reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through. Add a little water or vegetable broth if needed to adjust the consistency.

Ingredient Notes

Kala Chana: It is commonly available in grocery stores, Indian markets, or online. If you don’t have access to Kala Chana, you can substitute it with regular chickpeas (white or beige variety) for a different flavor and appearance.

Spices: The spices mentioned in the basic recipe are commonly used in Indian cuisine. However, feel free to adjust the spice quantities according to your taste preferences. You can also add additional spices like cumin powder, cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom to enhance the flavor profile.

Onion, Garlic, and Ginger: These aromatics add depth and flavor to the dish. You can increase or decrease the quantities based on your preference. If you don’t have fresh ginger or garlic, you can use powdered versions as well.

Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes provide a tangy flavor and help create a rich gravy. If fresh tomatoes are not available, you can use canned diced tomatoes or tomato puree as a substitute.

Oil or Ghee: While the recipe suggests using oil or ghee, you can choose based on your preference. Ghee adds a distinct flavor and richness to the dish, but if you prefer a lighter option, you can use vegetable oil or cooking oil of your choice.

Additional Vegetables: To add more nutrition and variety to your Kala Chana, you can include vegetables like spinach, potatoes, bell peppers, or carrots. These can be added along with the tomatoes and cooked until tender.

Garnish: Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) provide a refreshing flavor and bright green color as a garnish. If you’re not fond of coriander, you can omit it or substitute with parsley.

Lemon Juice: Squeezing fresh lemon juice over the cooked Kala Chana just before serving adds a tangy kick and enhances the flavors. It is optional but recommended for a burst of freshness.

Instant Pot Kala Chana

First rinse and soak the black chickpeas for 8 to 9 hours. Drain the water and again rinse a few times with fresh water. Set aside.

Kala chana curry is a breeze to make in the Instant Pot. Follow the recipe instructions as is by first sautéing the aromatics, tomatoes and ground spices in the steel insert of the Instant Pot, using the ‘sauté’ option.

Add 1.5 cups water. Stir to combine. Seal tightly with the Instant Pot lid and turn the valve to the sealing position. Pressure cook on high pressure for 25 to 30 minutes.

When the beep sound is heard, after the cooking is complete, give a quick pressure release after 10 to 12 minutes.

Finish with garam masala and coriander leaves. If the curry looks thin to you, use the ‘sauté’ mode of the Instant Pot, simmer for some minutes until you get the desired consistency.

Making Kala Chana in a Pot or Pan

Presoak chickpeas for at least 8 hours before cooking. I suggest to first cook the soaked chickpeas in 2 cups of water or as needed in a medium to large pot or pan on stovetop on medium to medium-high heat.

Soaked chickpeas will take more than an hour to cook in a pot. Cover and cook. Drain all the water from the cooked chickpeas and set aside.

Sauté the aromatics, spices and tomatoes in a pan or skillet as listed in the step-by-step guide above. Add the cooked black chickpeas, salt to this sautéed base of onions, tomatoes.

Add 1 cup water or as needed. Mix well and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes or more until the gravy thickens a bit and the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors of the masala. Lastly add the coriander leaves and garam masala.

Expert tips

  1. Soaking the Kala Chana: Soaking the Kala Chana overnight or for at least 8 hours before cooking is recommended. This helps soften the chickpeas, reduce the cooking time, and improve their digestibility.
  2. Cooking the Kala Chana: Whether you are using a pressure cooker or a regular pot, make sure the Kala Chana is cooked until it is tender but not overly mushy. It should still hold its shape. If using a pressure cooker, be mindful of the cooking time to prevent overcooking.
  3. Flavorful Base: Take the time to sauté the onions until they are golden brown. This caramelization process adds depth of flavor to the dish. Similarly, cooking the tomatoes until they are soft and mushy helps develop a rich and robust base for the Kala Chana.
  4. Spice Roasting: Dry roasting the powdered spices (turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder) for a brief period in the pan before adding them to the dish enhances their flavors. This technique is known as “blooming” the spices and adds an extra layer of depth to the recipe.
  5. Adjust Spice Levels: The suggested spice quantities are a starting point. Feel free to adjust them according to your taste preferences. If you prefer a spicier dish, increase the amount of red chili powder. Similarly, you can decrease the quantity if you prefer a milder flavor.
  6. Simmering for Flavor Infusion: Once the Kala Chana is combined with the spice mixture, allow it to simmer on low heat for some time. This allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
  7. Resting Period: Like many curries and stews, the flavors of Kala Chana develop further when allowed to rest for some time. If possible, let the dish sit for 10-15 minutes after cooking before serving. This allows the flavors to mingle and intensify.
  8. Garnishing and Serving: Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) adds a burst of freshness to the dish when used as a garnish. You can also serve Kala Chana with a squeeze of lemon juice for a tangy and bright flavor. Accompany it with rice, roti, or naan bread for a complete meal.

FAQs

Q: Are Kala Chana and regular chickpeas the same thing?

A: While Kala Chana and regular chickpeas belong to the same family, they are different varieties. Kala Chana has a dark brown to black color, while regular chickpeas are typically beige or white. They have slightly different flavors and appearances, but can often be used interchangeably in recipes.

Q: Can I use canned Kala Chana instead of dried ones?

A: Yes, you can use canned Kala Chana as a time-saving option. Just make sure to drain and rinse them before using. Canned Kala Chana is already cooked, so you won’t need to soak or cook them for a long time. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to warm them through and allow the flavors to meld together.

Q: Can I sprout Kala Chana?

A: Yes, Kala Chana can be sprouted. Soak the dried Kala Chana overnight, then drain and rinse them thoroughly. Place them in a sprouting jar or a container covered with a damp cloth or paper towel. Rinse them 2-3 times a day and keep them in a warm place. Within 1-2 days, you will see sprouts starting to form. Sprouted Kala Chana can be used in salads, sandwiches, or other dishes.

Q: Is Kala Chana gluten-free?

A: Yes, Kala Chana is naturally gluten-free. It does not contain gluten, making it a suitable option for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

Q: Can I freeze cooked Kala Chana?

A: Yes, you can freeze cooked Kala Chana. Allow it to cool completely, then store it in airtight containers or freezer bags. Label them with the date and store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Q: What are the health benefits of Kala Chana?

A: Kala Chana is a nutritious legume that offers several health benefits. It is a good source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamins (such as vitamin C and vitamin B6), and minerals (such as iron, potassium, and magnesium). It promotes digestive health, helps regulate blood sugar levels, supports weight management, and provides energy. It is also beneficial for heart health, bone health, and overall immunity.

If you like this recipe then try our other Curry Recipes

Loki Kofta Curry

Traditional Dal Makhani

Soya Chunks

Black Eyed Peas Curry

Please be sure to rate this recipe or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more veetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram Youtube, Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest.

Kala Chana Recipe Card

North Indian Kitchen
Kala Chana made with homemade spices and the fragnance of fresh coriander leaves on the top makes it more delicious and attractive. It's a great combination to serve with vegetable pulao .
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Soaking Time 9 hours
Total Time 9 hours 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine North Indian Punjabi
Servings 4
Calories 245 kcal

Equipments

1 Kadai
1 Pan
1 Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

For Soaking

  • 1 cup Black Peas (kala chana)-172 grams
  • 2.5 cup Water

Other Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon Oil/Ghee
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • ½ cup Onions (cubed)
  • 1.25 cup Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • 1.5 cups Water/as required
  • Salt as required
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1-2 tablespoons Coriander leaves (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Rinse 1 cup black chickpeas (kala chana) a couple of times in water. Then add 2.5 cups water and soak the kala chana overnight or for 8 to9 hours.
    2. After the black chickpeas have softened and become tender from the soaking, drain the extra water. Using a strainer, rinse the soaked chickpeas in water for a couple of times and set aside.
    3. Next take a grinder jar and add tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and some chilis into it.
    4. Make a smooth puree. Be sure the puree should be thick.
    5. In a separate pan, heat oil or ghee over medium heat.
    6. Add the prepared puree into it.
    7. Cook until they become soft and mushy.
    8. Sauté them on medium-low heat until the oil starts leaving the sides of the onion-tomato masala and the tomatoes begin to soften. You should see the tomatoes becoming mushy and pulpy.
    9. Add 1/4 teaspoon  turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon red chilipowder,1 teaspoon coriander powder, and salt. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until the spices are well incorporated.
    10. Make sure that cook the masala until it's colour become golden brown. Now your masala is ready for kala chana. Keep aside for afterwards use.
    Add water & Pressure Cook Kala Chana
     
    11. Add the kala chana together with 1.5 cups water in the pressure cooker.
    12. Pressure cook kala chana on a medium heat for 10 to 11minutes or 10 to 12 whistles (or more, if needed), until the kala chana are cooked well and softened.
    13. Now add the prepared masala in boiled chana.
    Final Step : Prepare Punjabi Tadka
     
    14. Take a pan and pour some oil in it. 
    15. Now add red kashmiri red chili powder, jeera and fresh coriander leaves. Cook for a while and then add it to black chana.
    16. When you get the desired consistency, sprinkle ½ teaspoon garam masala. Mix it well.
    17. Add 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (optional) to the Punjabi kala chana curry.
    Your Black Chana is ready to serve.

Video

Notes

  • Remember to use fresh chickpeas that are under their shelf period for a flavorsome curry. Chickpeas that are old take more time to cook.
  • I recommend to soak black chickpeas overnight or for about 8 hours as the have a tougher skin. Chickpeas that are soaked well enough, cook properly making them easy to digest.
  • Change the kala chana curry consistency as per your liking. Add some water for a soupy consistency. To make a thick consistency, include less water. Generally Punjabi kala chana has a medium-thin to thin consistency and is not thick.
Nutrition Facts
Kala Chana Recipe Card
Amount per Serving
Calories
245
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
10
g
15
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Sodium
 
332
mg
14
%
Potassium
 
525
mg
15
%
Carbohydrates
 
32
g
11
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Protein
 
8
g
16
%
Vitamin A
 
690
IU
14
%
Vitamin B1
 
1
mg
67
%
Vitamin B2
 
1
mg
59
%
Vitamin B3
 
2
mg
10
%
Vitamin B6
 
1
mg
50
%
Vitamin C
 
10
mg
12
%
Vitamin E
 
3
mg
20
%
Vitamin K
 
5
µg
5
%
Calcium
 
111
mg
11
%
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
 
93
µg
23
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
Magnesium
 
75
mg
19
%
Phosphorus
 
160
mg
16
%
Zinc
 
2
mg
13
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword Chana
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