kala chana curry

Kala Chana Recipe (Black Chickpeas Curry)

By Swasthi on September 12, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

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.

kala chana or black chickpea curry

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.

About Kala Chana

Kala chana is the Hindi word for “Black Chickpeas”. In Hindi, the word “Kala” means “Black” and “Chana” means “Chickpea”. Hence the name kala chana, meaning black chickpeas. These are native to India so they are also called as Desi chana or desi chickpeas, where desi means native.

Apart from being a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, these are also high in fiber and protein. So we Indians across the world, consider black chickpeas as a health food and eat them often.

We make numerous dishes like chana chaat, chana sundal and also add them to stir fry dishes, curries and stews.

Black Chickpeas Curry Recipe

This kala chana recipe is a simple way to include plant based protein in your diet. If you are a curry lover, you will love this delicious, deeply flavoured dish that is healthier and makes for a great meal anytime of the year.

You can make this kala chana recipe in a stovetop pressure cooker, Instant pot or even in a regular pot. I have covered all the instructions in this post.

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. I have also shared another recipe using black chickpeas, you may check it here – Kadala curry.

To make this kala chana recipe 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.

More Instant pot recipes
Instant pot dal & rice
vegetable kurma
Instant pot Egg biryani

kala chana recipe made with black chickpeas

How To Make Kala Chana Curry (Stepwise photos)

Preparation – Soak

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.

black chickpeas

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)
soaked kala chana in a bowl

Make Onion Tomato Masala

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pressure cooker. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them splutter.

tempering cumin seeds in oil

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.

sauteing onions in a pressure cooker

5. Then add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste & saute on a low heat for 1 minute until the ginger garlic smells good..

sauteing ginger garlic for kala chana

6. Add the 1 cup chopped or pureed tomatoes. Using tomato puree prevents the separation of water in your curry. You will get a uniform gravy. Stir and cook until the mixture becomes thick and the tomatoes blend well with onions.

adding tomato puree to make kala chana

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
adding spice powders to make onion tomato masala

8. Stir well and cook this onion tomato masala until it begins to smell good. This takes about 2 to 3 mins.

cooked onion tomato masala for kala chana

9. Now add the drained kala chana and pour 3 cups water.

adding black chickpeas to the cooker

10. Mix everything well.

pouring water to make kala chana in cooker

Pressure Cook

11. Cover and pressure cook for 10 whistles on a medium heat. This takes about 25 mins.

pressure cooking

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.

cooked kala chana

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.
adding kasuri methi coriander leaves

14. After mixing well this is the consistency you should be getting. Taste test and add more salt if needed. Kala chana curry will be neither too thin nor too thick. But good enough to serve with rice or roti.

kala chana ready to serve in a cooker

Serve kala chana with rice, jeera rice or roti. Squeeze some lemon juice and serve with raw onions and carrots.

kala chana

Instant Pot Black Chickpeas Curry

1. Press saute button on your instant pot. Pour 2 tablespoons oil to the steel insert of the instant pot. When the oil turns hot, add half teaspoon cumin seeds. I have also added some whole spices which are optional – if you like you may add 1 small bay leaf, 1 clove, ½ inch cinnamon and 2 green cardamoms.

splutter spices in oil to make kala chana curry

2. When the spices splutter in oil, add 1 cup chopped onions (1 large) and green chili (optional). Saute them until golden.

frying onions in instant pot

3. Add 1 ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste or ¾ teaspoon minced garlic and ¾ teaspoon minced ginger. Saute just for a minute, until aromatic.

minced ginger and garlic to make kala chana

4. Pour 1 cup tomato puree or chopped tomatoes. (I pureed 2 medium tomatoes in the grinder).

pour tomato puree to make kala chana curry

5. Stir and saute for a minute. Then add

  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
add ground spices to the onions and tomatoes

6. Saute this for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic.

saute masala to make kala chana

7. Add soaked kala chana and pour 2 cups water.

add kala chana to the onion tomato masala

8. Deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom of the pot, so any bits of food stuck will be released and avoid burn warning.

deglaze the pot

Pressure Cook

9. Secure the instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release handle to sealing. Press pressure cook button and set the timer to 35 minutes. If your beans are too old then set the timer to 40 minutes.

kala chana pressure cooking in instant pot

10. Once the IP is done wait for the pressure to release naturally. Open the lid and add the following optional ingredients. All these 3 will impart a lot of flavor to the kala chana curry. But you may skip them.

  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ¼ inch sliced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
kasuri methi ginger to flavor up

11. Give a good stir and let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste test and add more salt as needed. This is the consistency you will get. It will be medium thick not too thin or thick.

instant pot kala chana

Serve kala chana curry with rice or roti or paratha. We always love our kala chana with some lemon juice, fresh cut onions and carrots.

kala chana black chickpeas recipe

Pro Tips

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 of the gravy: I fine chop the onions and puree the tomatoes. So the gravy is thicker in consistency. You may use them chopped. But tomato puree prevents the water separation in the gravy so it is more uniform.

Spices : Most times 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, 1 to 2 cloves and half inch cinnamon stick to the tempering along with cumin as I used in the instant pot version. 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. Also ghee aids digestion.

Cooking in pot

If you are using a pot, then it is very important to precook them in water first until soft. 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 hot 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.


Why is my kala chana hard and undercooked?

Kala chana can remain hard and undercooked if they are too old, meaning harvested long time ago. So it is important to buy them from a store where the stocks are fresher. If you are left with too old kala chana, you may simply add a pinch of baking soda when you pressure cook them. Note that this alters the flavor a bit.

How to soak kala chana quickly?

Place your kala chana in a large bowl and pour boiling hot water. For 1 cup chana you will need 3 cups of boiling water. Cover and let soak for an hour. After an hour check them if they softened. The center of the chana should be softened in order to cook well.

How to add aloo or potato to kala chana curry?

Aloo kala chana is a favorite with my kids. Here is how I make it – Boil the potato separately until just fork tender and not mushy. Dice them and add them once the chickpeas are cooked. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes so the potatoes soak up the flavors.

How long can you store kala channa curry?

This kala chana curry keeps good for 4 days in the refrigerator. If you want to store beyond that, cool the curry immediately after making and store in a glass air tight container. Freeze them for 4 to 6 weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat until bubbling, simmer for 5 mins. You may add water if required.

Related Recipes

Recipe card

kala chana recipe

Kala Chana Recipe (Black Chickpeas Curry)

Black chickpeas cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices . It goes well with rice, roti or naan. Instructions included to cook in a pot, pressure cooker & instant pot.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes

Ingredients (US 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)
  • teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or ¾ inch ginger, 3 garlic cloves minced)
  • 1 cup tomatoes chopped or pureed (2 to 3)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • 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 (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 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 35 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.


  1. Soaking black chickpeas for atleast 6 to 8 hours, preferably overnight is essential. Partially soaked chickpeas won’t soften when cooked with acidic ingredients like tomatoes.
  2. Quick soaking: If you are short of time, then simply soak them in boiling hot water for 1 hour. Keep them covered and check after 1 hour. They should be softened well inside.
  3. Whole spices: While cumin seeds are good enough, you can also use a bay leaf, 2 green cardamoms, ½ inch cinnamon and 1 clove. Also a pinch of hing/ asafetida can be used.
  4. Tomato puree gives a uniform consistency to your gravy without separating water once the curry is done. However you may choose to use chopped tomatoes. I use homemade tomato puree.
  5. Smooth curry: If you want a smoother curry with no chunks of onions and tomatoes, make the onion tomato masala with chopped onions and chopped tomatoes. Cool and make a paste of the onion tomato masala. For this version you will need another half cup of water while simmering.
  6. Amchur (mango powder) or lemon juice – We love serving kala chana with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. If you do not have lemon you may add half teaspoon amchur towards the end.
  7. Aloo – potatoes: You may add potato to make aloo kala chana. Boil whole potato separately. Dice and add them to the curry after the chickpeas are soft cooked. Simmer covered for 3 to 4 minutes so the potatoes absorb the flavors.

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)

Nutrition Facts
Kala Chana Recipe (Black Chickpeas Curry)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 249 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 499mg22%
Potassium 486mg14%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 368IU7%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Calcium 111mg11%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Kala Chana Recipe (Black Chickpeas Curry)

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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Hello! I made your Kala Chana recipe tonight and while it tastes delicious, the texture of my gravy is very thin. I doubled the recipe and used the instant pot. Your recipe calls for 2 cups water for cooking in the instant pot with a single recipe, so I used 4 cups given that I doubled the amount of kala chana. I pressure cooked for 40min with 20min natural release. Any ideas why the gravy turned out so thin? Did I not actually need to double the water?

5 stars
This turned out great, didn’t make any changes! My family loved it. Thanks for another great recipe Swasthi.

5 stars
Made a double recipe today. The Kala Chana you get in Canada is pretty old so it took about 30 minutes of pressure cooking in my instant pot. I added a pinch of baking sofa as advised. Turned out great. I like my curry to be a little tangy, so I added about a teaspoon of Amchur powder.

5 stars
Excellent recipe.! I’ve done it twice . I used Canned kala chana which are already soft, and didn’t really need to pressure cook. Also I used some Shaan chana masala spice mix on top of the listed spices . Turned out super delicious. My husband loved it too.

I do notice that your recipes have got a good deal of spices involved..usually perfect kinds and proportions . Never felt too little or too much .

5 stars
Swasth love your recipes and the way you explain things. I will try make this in our Ninja Foodie, however, I wondered, can I use tinned kala chana’s that have been pre-cooked & if so, will it change the pressure cooking times much? Thanks

5 stars
Thank you. This is my favorite recipe from your website. Turns out amazing always.

5 stars
I made the way you explain in the recipe. Turn out really tasty.

Thanks for lovely chana recipes.
These are brown chanas actually brown not black in color.Also u mentioned pick debris and stones,it actually means one should clean and remove any stones or dirt from the chanas before cooking it .Right?

5 stars
It turnes out superb

Thank you very much for your recipes. I used the stove top method but it did not turn out into a thicker gravy. Rather, it was more watery. Do you have any advice on why this would have happened and how I can fix it for next time? Thank you.

Were you able to get the consitency right? I cooked in pot too but the curry was so watery and it was more reddish orangish in color. I tried evaporating the water but the chana dried out without any curry left

5 stars
Thank you for the recipe. This was the first time I got my Kala chana curry right. Tomato purée made all the difference. Will try more recipes from your blog

5 stars
This is the second time making. As always this came out delicious. Made some ghee rice and my family loved it. Thank you

5 stars
Great recipe. One stop centre for beginners well detailed.God bless.

For the nutritional info, how many grams or cups are we talking?

i dont see the time to cook if using a pot on the stove?
Also I have the same problem copying the recipe

Hi Swasthi,
Thank you again for your recipes that have made cooking so much easier and fun for me.

I just had one query which company kitchen king masala do you suggest? Usually I use chole masala or Everest garam masala. Is kitchen king masala better for Vegis?

5 stars
Swasthis all recipes are incredible .she is just wonderful. Which ever dish I make its awesome. My family licks their fingers. God bless you.

5 stars
Turned out good. So much easier to make it in the IP. Thank you for all the yummy recipes. Will be making your chicken pulao tonight.

5 stars
Hi Swasthi,
Your recipes are amazing. I have tried a lot of them butter paneer chole & aloo gobi. Can you please share a recipe for tarka dal? We tasted this in an Indian restaurant earlier. My family is in love with the dish. Thank you.

Hi Swasthi, I just wanted to tell you that I sometimes make a recipe similar to this one in the slow cooker, I cook the kala chana together with the gravy for 11 hours on low without pre-soaking it. It seems to me that they cook well and I’ve never had digestive problems after eating them.

Thank you Swasthi, I hope you are doing well now in this time of Corona virus, my family and I are ok at the moment.
Slow cookers are great for large slabs of meat and for legumes, they don’t cook as quick as a pressure cooker or instant pot obviously but you can make big batches of food with them and they do their own thing without you tending to it. What I do usually is that I put legumes (sometimes in a gravy) in the slow cooker at night and in the morning/lunch I have a big meal ready. They are more of an American thing but you can surely find them on Amazon.

I also forgot, with slow cookers you can skip the pre-soaking with all legumes except rajma/kidney beans (as far as I know). Rajmas are dangerous to cook in the slow cooker, you have to pre-soak them, boil them for at least 10 minutes and then you can use them in the slow cooker. With all other legumes you can dump them directly in the slow cooker.

I cannot print your recipes. Copy and paste is also not possible from you site. How can I fix this?