Kala chana

Bengal gram curry


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Also known as Bengal gram, kala chana is a type of chickpea, but dark brown in colour and smaller in size than the common chickpea. This is a mildly spiced black chickpea curry, made in a Punjabi style.

Preparation 25 minutes + 9 hours soaking
Cooking 30–45 minutes


  • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) dried black chickpeas (kala chana)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or rice bran oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4–5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1–2 Indian green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh curry leaf sprig, leaves picked
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • ΒΌ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Β½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 2 dried red chillies, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Β½ teaspoon Chaat masala
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish


Put the chickpeas in a bowl, add 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) water and leave to soak overnight, or for at least 8–9 hours.

Next day, drain the chickpeas, rinse well and set aside.

Heat the ghee or oil in a pressure cooker or heavy-based saucepan. Add the cumin seeds. When they start to pop, add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and lightly golden. Add the garlic, green chilli and curry leaves and cook for 15–20 seconds.

Now add the tomato and cook it down for 5–7 minutes, stirring lightly now and then, until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.

Add the turmeric, ground coriander, chilli powder and asafoetida, if using. Stir for 2–3 seconds, then add the chickpeas, along with all their soaking water. Add the dried chillies and salt, stirring well.

Pressure-cook over medium to high pressure for 10–15 minutes, or if using a saucepan, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chickpeas are well cooked and softened.

Lastly, sprinkle with the garam masala and stir it in.

Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed rice, rotis or chapatti.