Kala chana recipe – black chickpeas cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices. Kala chana are the desi variety of chickpeas that are brown to black in color. These are used widely in Indian cuisine to make curries, stew and even stir fry dishes. This post shares the details on how to prepare and cook kala chana in a pot, pressure cooker & Instant pot.
This spicy curried kala chana can be served with plain rice, plain paratha, roti or even with naan. It also goes well with jeera rice, ghee rice & turmeric rice. Most Indian households cook kala chana often since they are healthy, protein-packed, fiber rich and taste delicious.
The preparation of kala chana recipe starts with rinsing and soaking them overnight in lots of water.
A spicy onion and tomato base is prepared similar to any other Indian dish. Then kala chana is added to this and simmered until they turn soft & absorb all the flavors of spices.
To make it in a pot, the black chickpeas have to be precooked with water until tender. Then added to the onion tomato masala.
If you have a stovetop pressure cooker or an Instant pot, then you can cut short the process and avoid precooking the kala chana separately. Instead just make the onion tomato masala and add the soaked black chickpeas. Pressure cook everything together.
Preparation for kala chana recipe
1. Measure 1 cup chana and pick any debris or stones. Add them to a large bowl and rinse them very well. Soak them in 4 to 6 cups of water for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
2. Once they are soaked I discard the water and rinse them well. When you are ready to cook, prepare the following:
- 1 cup onions (fine chop 1 large onion – 180 grams)
- ¾ to 1 cup tomatoes (fine chopped or pureed – 2 medium, 200 grams)
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic (3 garlic cloves + ½ inch ginger)
- 1 green chilli optional (chopped or slit)
How to make kala chana curry
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pressure cooker. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them splutter.
4. Then add 1 cup fine chopped onions and 1 chopped green chilli. I sprinkled ¼ teaspoon salt so the onions cook faster. Saute them on a medium heat until golden.
5. Then add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste & saute on a low heat for 1 minute until the ginger garlic smells good..
6. Add the 1 cup chopped or pureed tomatoes. Stir and cook until the mixture becomes thick and the tomatoes blend well with onions.
7. When most of the moisture in tomatoes is evaporated, then add
- ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
8. Stir well and cook this onion tomato masala until it begins to smell good. This takes about 2 to 3 mins.
9. Now add the drained kala chana and pour 3 cups water.
10. Mix everything well.
11. Cover and pressure cook for 10 whistles on a medium heat. This takes about 25 mins.
12. When the pressure releases naturally, open the lid and check if the kala chana is done properly. They should be soft and cooked well.
Troubleshooting tip: If they are not cooked well, then pressure cook for 2 more whistles. I did not have to cook for more. Mine were done in 10 whistles.
13. Then add
- 2 tablespoons fine chopped coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (optional)
- few ginger juliennes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon ghee (optional). Mix all of these and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame. It will begin to smell very good.
14. After mixing well this is the consistency you should be getting. Taste test and add more salt if needed.
Serve kala chana with rice, jeera rice or roti.
Tips to make kala chana
Soaking is important: Black chickpeas have an harder skin when compared to the other legumes. Most of this is the fiber content which can easily make you feel bloated if they are not properly soaked.
Soaking them for at least 6 to 8 hours or overnight is highly recommended to avoid tummy problems. This not only reduces the cook time but also improves their taste & texture.
I always stock some presoaked kala chana in my fridge. So it is easier for me to make a curry, salad or chaat instantly.
Texture: I fine chop the onions and puree the tomatoes. So the gravy is thicker in consistency. You may use them chopped.
Cooking kala chana in pot
If you are using a pot, then it is very important to precook them in water first. Later add them to the onion tomato masala. Black chickpeas will not cook well when they are cooked with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or salt unless pressure cooked.
So always cook them well in plain water until tender. This will ensure they are cooked completely.
Soak them overnight. Drain and cook with 3 cups of water. Keep adding more water as they cook. They will take about 1 hour 30 mins to cook tender. Then add them to the onion tomato masala & simmer for 15 to 20 mins so they absorb the flavors.
I do not use a lot of whole spices in this recipe. I just use cumin. You may add 1 bay leaf, 2 green cardamoms, 2 cloves and 1 inch cinnamon stick to the tempering along with cumin.
I use this homemade garam masala. But you can also use kitchen king masala if you have.
Lastly I have this little tip of pouring some ghee over the hot kala chana before serving. This totally elevates the flavor and taste of the dish.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup kala chana (black/ brown chickpeas)
- 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup onions (1 large) fine chopped or processed
- 1 green chilli chopped (optional)
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or ¾ inch ginger, 3 garlic cloves minced)
- ¾ to 1 cup tomatoes chopped or pureed (2 to 3) (I used ¾ cup)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala
- 1½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 3 cups water (2 cups for instant pot)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves
- 1 small lemon (optional) for serving
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi
- ½ inch ginger juliennnes
- Add kala chana to a large bowl and rinse them at least thrice. Soak them for 6 to 8 hours or overnight in 4 to 6 cups of water.
- Once soaked drain the water and rinse them well.
Stovetop kala chana in cooker
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Then add cumin seeds.
- When they sizzle, add onions and saute until they turn light golden.
- Next add ginger garlic and saute for a minute or until a nice aroma comes out.
- Add tomato puree and cook for a while until it turns thick.
- Next stir in the spice powders – turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder and salt. Saute well until the mixture smells good and begins to leave the sides of the pan.
- Pour 3 cups water and add the drained kala chana. Stir well and cover the pressure cooker with the lid.
- Pressure cook on a medium flame for 10 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Open the lid and check if the kala chana is tender & cooked. If not pressure cook for 2 more whistles.
- Then add coriander leaves and all the other optional ingredients – ginger juliennes, ghee and crushed kasuri methi. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Taste test and add more salt if needed. Serve kala chana with rice or roti.
Stovetop black chickpeas in pot
- Soak them overnight. Drain and cook with 3 cups of water. Keep adding more water as they cook. They will take about 1 hour 30 mins to cook tender. Then add them to the onion tomato masala & simmer for 15 to 20 mins so they absorb the flavors.
Instant pot kala chana
- Press saute button. When the IP displays hot, pour oil to the inner pot of the IP.
- Add cumin and let them sizzle. Stir in the onions and salt. Saute until they turn light golden.
- Saute ginger garlic for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, salt and all the spice powders. Saute until the mix turns slightly thick and aromatic for 2 mins.
- Pour 2 cups water and deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom with a wooden spatula. This releases any bits of food stuck & prevents a burn sign.
- Then add the drained kala chana and give a good stir. Press CANCEL button.
- Secure the IP with lid and position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press PRESSURE COOK button (high) and set the timer to 40 mins. Or you can also use the bean chilli mode and set the timer to 40 mins.
- When the IP is done cooking, it will beep. Allow the pressure to release naturally for atleast 15 mins.
- This step is optional – Add some ghee, kasuri methi and ginger juliennes. Mix well and cook on saute mode for 2 minutes. Garnish kala chana with coriander leaves. Sprinkle some lemon juice and serve with rice or roti.
- Bay leaf can be used along with cumin seeds.
- A pinch of hing or asafoetida can be added just before adding the onions.
- Half teaspoon amchur powder can be added just before turning off the heat.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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