Chickpeas are one of the unsung heroes of the legume world. (Lentils are the other). Not too terribly exciting, they demurely sit in many a pantry patiently waiting their turn. Often they are destined for hummus, other times in soups and stews. For those lucky few chickpeas, they are presented to the adventurous as besan, and maybe will end up being delicious socca or Burmese tofu. I have been known to make desserts out of them as well 🙂 These beans are taken for granted, often relegated to the sidelines. This doesn’t have to be the case! Enter Kala Chana, the venue for chickpeas to strut their stuff and shine.
Kala chana are actually black chickpeas, which are smaller and more robust than the more common garbanzo bean. I hunted them down in an Indian market, and immediately fell in love. Make no mistake – they’re still a chickpea, but with more texture and thus more presence. They also fool the eyes into thinking they’re more exotic than the garbanzo – think a black bean in garbanzo clothing! To truly appreciate this bean, I first set about finding a recipe that would really let it shine. Using the Internet, my standard Chana Masala recipe, and various other influences, I created this delicious Indian curry that is sure to satisfy all chickpea lovers out there. And convert all the ‘chickpea haters’. There’s more to the chickpea than hummus and a throw in!
This Kala Chana is a spicy Indian curry with a tomato puree base. I love using fresh tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, and onions and pureeing them first to create the curry sauce. I have also used canned tomatoes in the past, with fantastic results. The resulting puree is so fragrant you know it’ll be delicious. The tempering for this dish is cumin-seed based, with some asafoetida for sourness, coriander and turmeric for ‘curry spice’, and garam masala for a more savory taste. The green chilis and the red chili powder pack a punch, making the final product craveable. The besan (double chickpea action!) acts like a thickener, making the curry sauce have a bit more creaminess and ‘oomph’. I served it over greens, but you can be more traditional and serve it with rice and/or your flatbread of choice (Roti or naan make for great scooping vessels!). Hands down this is one of my favourite curry recipes, and one that I will keep going back to time and time again. All hail the chickpea!
1 cup kala chana (dry) *Note: if you don’t have kala chana, substitute dried chickpeas. Just as tasty!
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 green chilis, chopped
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
⅛ tsp. asafoetida (hing)
1 tbsp. besan (chickpea flour)
1 tbsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. red chili powder
4 cups water + as needed
salt, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped
1) Soak kala chana overnight. Rinse and cook until al-dente.
2) In food processor, puree tomatoes, chilis, onion, and garlic.
3) In large pot heat oil on medium-high. Add cumin seeds and sauté until start to sizzle.
4) Add asafoetida and besan. Stir continuously and cook until besan light brown and toasted
5) Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir.
6) Add tomato puree. Stir and bring to a boil. Let cook until most moisture gone and starts to darken.
7) Add cooked kala chana, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, let simmer 20-30min.
8) Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and flatbread of choice.