This one-pot Kala Chana recipe is a delicious dish that is sure to impress the whole family on even the busiest of weeknights. With just 30 minutes of active time, this easy black chickpea curry will be on the table and ready for a fuss-free dinner. Learn how to make this traditional Punjabi dish with my easy to follow recipe, step-by-step photos and video!
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 a misnomer – the chickpea skin is actually brown or reddish brown, not black – the name refers to a particular variety of garbanzo bean used in this dish.
Also known as the Indian Black Chickpea, Bengal Gram or Desi Chickpea, kala chana is a variety that is native to the Indian subcontinent (desi means “native” or “country”) and has tougher skin and a darker appearance than other light skinned chana that you may be familiar with.
Black chickpeas are a rich source of plant based protein, making them an excellent ingredient for growing kids, active sports players or people who need a big dose of energy.
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.
Why This Recipe Works
This yummy family recipe came to me from my mother-in-law. Her recipes are always simple, easy and delectable. This kala chana curry 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 gravy. 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.