Kadala Curry (a.k.a. Kadala Kari) is a delicious and flavorful curry made with black chickpeas, onions, herbs, coconut and a bevy of warming spices. This popular curry is traditionally served with Puttu or Appam for breakfast in Kerala cuisine. Follow along with my step by step photos to learn how to make this comforting gluten-free and vegan curry like a pro!
About Kadala Curry
Kadala is the Malayalam word for “chickpeas,” which are also known as kala chana, desi chana or whole bengal gram. Kari means “curry,” which you might’ve already guessed from context clues.
Chickpeas are a great source of vegetarian protein, as well as fiber and nutrients, making this a healthy curry option. This traditional recipe from Kerala is also naturally vegan and gluten free, making it a lovely meal for sharing with friends and family.
Kadala kari and Puttu (steamed rice and coconut cakes) is one of my favorite breakfast combos, which isn’t surprising given its popularity in the state of Kerala. While this pairing makes for a delicious morning meal, you can also serve kadala curry with rice, chapatis or pooris for lunch or dinner.
This recipe calls for a special Kerala garam masala (garam masala simply means “a warming spice blend or spice mix”). Since this blend is not readily available in all stores, I have made a very small amount of the spice blend that is just enough for this recipe.
As with many Indian recipes, there are many variations of kadala curry, ranging from gravy to a semi-dry version. Some variations use coconut milk, others use fresh or roasted coconut, and still others don’t use coconut at all. This particular recipe has been loosely adapted from the ‘Essential Kerala Cookbook’ by Vijayan Kannampilly.
This spicy kadala curry is also quite versatile; it can be served with puttu, appams, Idiyappam or with steamed rice, chapati or poori depending on what you have on hand and what you prefer.
How to Make Kadala Curry
1. You will first need to rinse and then soak 1 cup black chickpeas in 2 cups of water for 8 to 9 hours (or overnight).
Note: You can also use white chickpeas instead of black chickpeas.
Tip: In a hurry? You can speed up the soaking process by bringing the water to a boil before pouring over the chickpeas. Allow them to soak in the hot water for an hour before draining and proceeding with cooking.
For a super speedy shortcut, you can also opt to use drained and rinsed canned white chickpeas – if you do, simply skip to step 5.
2. Add the soaked black chickpeas to a 3 litre stovetop pressure cooker with ½ teaspoon salt.
3. Add 2.5 cups fresh water.
4. Stir to combine, then pressure cook the chickpeas for approximately 9 to 10 whistles, until they are tender and cooked through. Reserve the stock (a.k.a. aquafaba) and keep it aside.
If you prefer you can choose to cook the chickpeas in a pot on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot adding water as needed.
Make Coconut Paste
5. While the chickpeas are cooking, add ½ cup tightly packed grated coconut in a grinder or blender jar.
6. Add ¼ to ⅓ cup water and grind or blend to a smooth paste. (Add more water if required.) Keep the ground coconut paste aside.
Remember to blend or grind the coconut finely.
Make Kerala-style Garam Masala
7. In a small pan, dry roast the following five spices till fragrant:
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 to 3 single strands of mace
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 pinches of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder
This is just a light roasting to awaken the oils in the spices; don’t over-do it.
Note: If you prefer to use a pre-packaged spice blend, you are welcome to.
8. Using a small spice grinder, coffee grinder or a mortar & pestle, grind or pound these five spices to a semi fine or fine powder. Keep aside.
Make Kadala Curry
9. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan. Coconut oil gives a really good flavor but if you don’t have it on hand then feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil.
10. Add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds and let them crackle.
11. Add ⅓ cup chopped pearl onions or shallots. Stir and sauté for a minute.
12. Add 1 teaspoon chopped ginger, 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies, and 10 to 12 curry leaves. Sauté till the shallots turn translucent or light golden.
13. Add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder and the entirety of the ground Kerala garam masala.
If you are using packaged Kerala garam masala, then add 1 teaspoon of it.
Tip: I use a full teaspoon of red chili powder in this recipe because we like it spicy! For a milder version, reduce to ½ teaspoon.
Also, tomatoes are not added in this recipe, but you can add 1 finely chopped medium tomato if you like.
14. Stir the masalas very well on low heat and sauté for a minute.
15. Add the ground coconut paste.
16. Stir and mix very well.
17. Sauté stirring often for about 4 to 5 minutes on low heat.
18. Add the cooked black chana (kadala).
19. Stir and mix very well.
Simmer Kadala Curry
20. Add 1 to 1.25 cups liquid – you can use water, chana stock (the water in which the chickpeas were cooked) or a combination of both. Stir to mix.
For a thicker consistency in the curry add less water. For a thin consistency you can increase the water a bit, but make sure not to dilute the flavors by adding too much of water.
21. Season with salt and stir the curry again. Remember to start with less salt – you can always add more, but you can’t take it away!
22. Let the curry come to a boil on medium heat.
23. Simmer the curry till all the flavors of the kadala curry are well blended. You will also see some oil specks floating on top.
To thicken the curry you can also mash some of the black chickpeas with the back of a spoon.
23. Serve kadala curry hot or warm with puttu or appams or Idiyappam or steamed rice or Malabar Parotta or Poori.
Any leftover stays good for about 1 day in the fridge in an air tight container. While reheating add a splash of water if the curry has thickened too much. Reheat in a pan or a small pot.
Yep! Kadala curry will keep in the refrigerator for up to a day. To reheat, simmer gently on the stove adding water as needed if the curry has thickened.
While black chickpeas are traditionally used for making Kadala Curry, you can make substitutions based on what you have available.
I recommend using chana (white chickpeas) or rajma (red kidney beans) or black eyed beans if you can’t get your hands on black chickpeas.
Mace and nutmeg come from the same tree, so you can substitute about 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg instead.
More Tasty Recipes with Chickpeas!
Dal (Lentils) & Legumes
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Kadala Curry | Kadala Kari
For cooking the chickpeas
- 1 cup black chickpeas – 172 grams (kala chana or desi chana or whole bengal gram or kadala)
- 2 cups water for soaking black chickpeas
- 2.5 cups water for pressure cooking
For kerala garam masala
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 to 3 thin strands of mace
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 3 pinches grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg powder
For coconut paste
- ½ cup fresh grated coconut – tightly packed
- ¼ to ⅓ cup water for grinding or blending coconut
Other ingredients for kadala curry
- ⅓ cup chopped shallots or pearl onions (sambar onions)
- 1 inch ginger chopped, about 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
- 1 or 2 green chilies chopped, about 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies or serrano pepper
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder – for less spicy taste add ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder (ground coriander)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder (ground black pepper)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 to 1.25 cups water or stock in which the black chickpeas are cooked
- salt as required
Pressure cooking chickpeas: (Check notes on cooking chickpeas in a pot/pan)
- First rinse and then soak the black chickpeas in 2 cups water for 8 to 9 hours or overnight. You can also use white chickpeas instead of black chickpeas.
- Take the black chickpeas in a 3 litre stovetop pressure cooker. Add fresh water and salt.
- Stir and pressure cook the chickpeas for 9 to 10 whistles or till they are tender and cooked through on medium heat.
Preparing coconut paste
- Meanwhile when the chickpeas are cooking, take the grated coconut in a grinder or blender jar. Add water and grind or blend to a smooth paste.
- Keep the ground coconut paste aside.
Preparing kerala garam masala
- In a small pan, dry roast the following spices till aromatic – fennel seeds, mace strands, cinnamon, cloves and grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder. Just a light roasting. Don't over do.
- In a small grinder or coffee grinder or a mortar pestle, grind or pound these five spices to a semi fine or fine powder. Keep aside.
Making kadala curry
- Heat coconut oil in a pan.
- Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
- Add chopped shallots. Stir and saute for a minute.
- Then add ginger, chopped green chilies, curry leaves and saute till the shallots turn translucent or a light brown.
- Then add red chili powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder and the ground kerala garam masala. If you already have kerala garam masala, then just add 1 teaspoon of it. Note that 1 teaspoon of red chili powder, makes this curry spicy. So reduce to ½ teaspoon for a less spicy curry.
- Stir the ground spices very well and saute for a minute on low heat.
- Then add the ground coconut paste.
- Stir and mix very well.
- Saute for 4 to 5 minutes on a low heat.
- Then add the cooked black chickpeas or kadala. Stir very well.
- Then add 1 to 1.25 cups water or according to the consistency you prefer. Again stir and mix very well.
- Season with the required amount of salt and stir kadala curry again.
- Let the curry come to a boil on medium heat and the gravy reduces a bit. The flavors and chickpeas should also be well blended. When the curry is done and cooked well, you will see some oil specks on the top layer of the curry.
- Serve Kadala Curry hot with puttu or appams or steamed rice. While serving, you can garnish with some chopped coriander leaves if you like.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Kadala Curry post from the archives first published in January 2015 has been republished on 28 September 2021 and updated on 20 July 2022.
Comments are closed.
Hai I from kerala.
I tried many version of kadala curry.
But this one only gave Exact Kerala kadala curry.
Thank u very much…..
Great to know and thanks for sharing this super feedback. Most welcome and happy cooking.
Very tasty and healthy recipe
Hey tried the recipe…and it came out great ????
thanks for this positive review on kadala curry recipe.
Amazing recipe… I always make this recipe with puttu or idiappam… Not jus this recipe so many more from this blog I have made but this is a very simple recipe.. tastes amazing… Thank you.
Great recipe. Only a single suggestion!. I wish all the good people who post recipes, would stop saying “cook till 10 whistles”. you can make a pressure cooker whistle ten times in a minute, or not at all !. Please provide time you need to maintain pressure, once the cooker reaches its designed pressure. That would really help.
Welcome Mathew John. In some of the older recipes, I have not added time. But for last 2 years I am adding the time. Timing depends upon the size of the cooker, intensity of flame, quality of beans and thus varies. So its difficult to give exact timing. Best is to cook till the ingredients are cooked well.
This is my go to recipe for kadala curry❤️❤️
Do you happen to have a recipe for the puttu rice cakes?
not yet shared puttu rice cakes but have considered your request. kindly allow us some time to post thanks.
hi…this looks easy.. we used to make it like fry..coconut with pepper ,shallots curry leaves and garlic and red chillies.. the once its brown, we add lil chilli powder and coriander powder and then grind it and add to the cooked chana. thats how I used to cook every time.
thankyou sreepriya for sharing your inputs 🙂
Ma’am ur recipes r took good. u gave a new life to my cooking .I enjoy cooking a lot with ur recipes.only thing I feel missing is sindhi recipes…keep up the good work…thank you
welcome aastha. nice to know this. i will try to add more sindhi recipes in future.
Thanks, Dassana! This recipe is great. I made it twice; the first time with cauliflower and eggplant (didn’t have chick peas) and I cooked the veggies with little water. The second time I followed the recipe. Both versions were great! Yummy!
welcome sari. nice to know this. thanks for sharing your positive feedback.
I tried this recipe for breakfast today along with dosas…came out very well and my hubby loved it…..love the way u explain the minute details…keep up the good work….thank you 🙂
welcome salma. glad to know this. thanks for sharing positive feedback.
Hey Dassana great recipe!! Can you post recipe of puttu too? I want to say another thing. As far as I know puttu is made from ground rice but in Delhi this special ground rice is not available. Can you please post your recipe with all information.. like which type of rice to use, hot to make powder and everything? I have eaten puttu 3 years back when I visited kerala by train. I found this new looking dish sellin on mangalore station and just tried it. But then I tried to search recipe but had not very good luck. Please Dassana please help me to make it.
And lastly you are very humble lady who shares all of her cooking secrets with lots of dedication via this website. I am also a programmer so I know how hard it is to keep posting new recipes , backend stuff all.
Thanks a lot for this.
thanks a lot radhika for the kind words. yes it does become tedious at times with the backend stuff etc. the puttu that i made when i made kadala was from coarsely ground rice. luckily i get puttu flour here, so kind of becomes easy to make. hence i do not grind the rice at home. anytime i want to make puttu, i but this flour which is meant for making puttus. you can use regular rice as in delhi you won’t get the rice meant for making puttu flour or even parboiled rice. just soak the rice for 2 to 3 hours. drain and then let them dry naturally in a shade or below a fan. then grind them in a grinder coarsely. don’t make a fine powder. then lightly roast the ground rice in a pan for 3 to 4 minutes on a low flame.
Hey dassana, m sure this recipe is fab n the pictures as always are great.
Since I originally hail from Kerala, I have seen my mom make kadala curry n puttu for breakfast many times.
Her version is a little different than yours. The while spices are roasted alongwith grated coconut and then ground and added to the chana. The mixture is then simmered and tempering is added to it.
It feels great to be on your blog. In fact just today I made your Hyderabadi Dum biryani and it was simply amazing thanks to you. My friend n I l loved it.
Keep up the good work
hi leeja, i know about this variation too which your mom makes. i have not tried this way. there are many variations of making kadala and i have just been making this one. thanks for the feedback on hyderabadi dum biryani. just today i made a mushroom biryani 🙂