Very spicy kala chana

Kala chana means black chickpeas. These are smaller and harder than the well-known white chickpeas.  In india, the kala chana are used to make gram flour. Also eaten by diabetics as they have a GI rating.

The flavour is more intense than white chickpeas, especially when cooked with spices. Tonight I may have overdone the spices as hubby was having a hard time eating it. We both had to add copious amounts of yoghurt (my favourite is Yeo Valley full fat yoghurt) but if you are daring then try it out.

I’ve put Gujarati words in brackets to help track down uncommon ingredients.

It is possible to buy dried kala chana which you would need to soak in plenty of water the night before. However, I’ve always found tinned versions give a good result so use these to save yourself some hassle and time.

1 can black chickpeas (kala chana) – rinse out any water/salt

1 medium white onion – dice roughly

1 small red onion – dice roughly

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 large cloves garlic

2 fresh green chillies – roughly chopped

2 tbs groundnut oil

1 large dried red chili (optional. Gives a different heat flavour. Dad swears by them)

1 large dry bayleaf

1 tsp cumin

Small pinch of asafoetida

5 green cardamom pods

5 cloves

1 large cinnamon stick

1 tsp turmeric (hurder/haldi)

1 tsp chili powder (or to taste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jeeru)

2 large ripe red tomatoes – diced very small

6 curry leaves

1 dried mangosteen flower (kokum)

1 cup water

2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp jaggery (ghaur)

Lemon juice (to taste)

Coriander to garnish


  • Put the onions, garlic, ginger and chilies in a blender and make a paste. If you do not have a blender, you can just chop everything finely. If you have a pestle and mortar, you can bash them in there to create the paste.
  • An optional step but does help bring out the flavour of the spices. On a hot dry pan or tawa heat the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon until you see a thin smoke come off them. This helps release their flavours. Be careful that they do not burn as they will become bitter.


  • In a large heavy based pan, heat oil over a medium heat
  • Add bayleaf and chili. Watch for them to start to sizzle at edges. Try to ensure bayleaf does not go brown. The red chili, if you are using it, will go black as it cooks.
  • Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add small pinch of hing if using. This stops the spices from getting over cooked.
  • Throw in onion/garlic/ginger/chili paste and cook for 5 minutes turning often to prevent sticking
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Stir.
  • Add spices and then the tomatoes and curry leaves. Keep stirring slowly to create a nice sauce
  • Add the gaur or sugar.
  • Add the chickpeas and mix all very well.
  • Add water, mix, bring to a boil  then reduce to a simmer.
  • Let this cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Once cooked, add lemon juice to taste. I find about 1/2 tbs to be more than sufficient.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with naan, rotli or rice.

Serve with plain yoghurt or cucumber raita. This helps take the heat off. As I said above, tonight we needed quite a lot of yoghurt as the dish was spicy. You can always reduce the amount of chilis and chili powder used to make it less so and I think next time, I certainly will.

3 thoughts on “Very spicy kala chana

  1. Pingback: Spicy chickpeas with savoy cabbage « Chili Paper Chains

    • Me too. I don’t think wordpress is as good as blogger for getting updates out to people or even to the web. That’s what I tell myself when I see that no one is commenting on the blog!

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