Sundal is primarily a Tamil specialty, which is nothing but a simple, yet sumptuous stir fry. The main ingredient can be varied – from legumes and lentils to even grains. Just like this easy-peasy Kondakadalai Sundal, a.k.a Black Channa Sundal or Kala Chana Sundal made with black chickpeas. Since it is typically also a no onion, no garlic and vegan preparation, it is often made during festivals like Navratri and Ganesh Chaturthi as well.
A traditional dish, Sundal is a preparation of lentils, legumes or grains which is mildly spiced and sautéed. The dish is also sprinkled with a generous helping of freshly grated coconut which boosts the overall flavors.
A classic recipe from the cuisine of Tamil Nadu, sundal is most of the times made with satvik ingredients and is without any onion or garlic in it. This is the reason it is also preferred as an apt snack or side dish during religious festivals. More in Navratri, Bommai Golu or Ganesh Chaturthi festivals in Tamil Nadu.
Sundal is also common as a ‘prasadam’ or ‘naivedya’ during these religious festivals. Apart from being easy to prepare, the dish provides energy, keeps one full and hence is good for the health too.
Apart from the Black Channa Sundal, other variations of this dish that I have shared are:
- Rajma Sundal (made with kidney beans)
- Sweet Corn Sundal (made with makai or corn kernels)
- Kadalai Paruppu Sundal (made with chana dal or Bengal gram)
- Channa Sundal (made with white chickpeas)
- Pattani Sundal (made with green peas or matar)
About Kondakadalai Sundal
The Tamil word ‘kondakadalai’ translates to chickpeas in English and chana in Hindi. Thus, the Tamil name of the dish means a sundal made with chickpeas. Here in this Black Channa Sundal, the cooked black chickpeas are sautéed with spices, chilies, curry leaves and finished with coconut.
Other than the ones that I have listed above plus the Kondakadalai Sundal, sundals can also be made with dried white peas, black eyed peas, moong beans and even peanuts. The method to prepare each sundal is more or less similar. There might be minor changes as the recipe varies.
Cooking Black Chickpeas
For this Kala Chana Sundal, I soaked the dried black chickpeas overnight which made them easier to pressure cook. I usually do this for all my dishes with chickpeas or kidney beans. I soak them for 8 to 9 hours or overnight, and then later cook with water.
Soaking is also beneficial as it reduces the phytic acid from the legumes. The phytates present naturally in beans or chickpeas can cause indigestion. Soaking also ensures that the chickpeas cook perfectly and thus are easily digestible.
There are a few options when you want to cook the black chickpeas. For quicker and faster cooking, either use a stovetop pressure cooker or the Instant Pot. If you have neither than cook the black chickpeas in a pot on the stovetop. But make a note that cooking chickpeas in a pan or pot takes lot of time.
Once you have the black chickpeas cooked and ready, making the dish is a breeze. Then you simply sauté the spices and herbs, add the cooked black channa, sauté for a few more minutes and then finish with some fresh coconut.
Black Channa Sundal tastes good as is. You do not need any side with it. You can have this Kondakadalai Sundal as a guilt-free snack any time of the day or as a healthy accompaniment with your meals.
Dal (Lentils) & Legumes
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Black Channa Sundal (Kondakadalai Sundal)
- ½ cup black chickpeas (black channa, kala chana)
- 1.5 to 2 cups water – for pressure cooking the black chickpeas
- ¾ teaspoon mustard seeds (black)
- ¾ teaspoon urad dal (spilt and skinned black gram)
- 1 green chili – chopped or ½ teaspoon chopped
- 1 dry red chili kept whole or halved and deseeded
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing), optional
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 4 to 5 drops lemon juice – optional
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or peanut oil or sunflower oil
- rock salt (edible and food grade) or regular salt, add as required
Cooking black channa
- Rinse a couple of times and soak the black chickpeas overnight in a bowl with enough water.
- Next day, drain the water and rinse the black chickpeas a few times in fresh water.
- Transfer the black chickpeas to a 3 litre stovetop pressure cooker. Add water and salt.
- Pressure cook on medium heat for about 10 to 11 minutes or 10 to 12 whistles.
- Let the pressure fall naturally in the cooker and then only open the lid.
- Cool slightly and check a few black chickpeas by pressing between your fingers to see if they are cooked tender and are softened. The should flatten easily when you press them.
- Carefully drain all the water from the black chickpeas using a strainer and set aside.
Making Kondakadalai Sundal
- Heat oil in a pan. Lower the heat and add the mustard seeds and urad dal.
- The mustard seeds will crackle and the urad dal will get browned. Stir often.
- They almost take the same time to cook on a low heat.
- Immediately, add the curry leaves, red chilies and asafoetida. Fry for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Now add the cooked black channa and salt. Stir and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on a low to medium heat.
- Switch off the heat and add the fresh grated coconut. Sprinkle the lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Serve the Black Channa Sundal or Kondakadalai Sundal as prasad or naivedyam.
- Opt to cook the black chickpeas in an Instant pot or in a pan on the stovetop adding water as required. Keep in mind that cooking black chickpeas in a pot or pan on the stovetop will take a lot of time.
- In place of edible rock salt, use pink salt or regular salt.
- Dry red chilli can be skipped if you do not have it. You could also omit adding both the green chillies and dry red chilli. Instead spice the sundal with a bit of crushed black pepper or ground black pepper powder.
- To make a gluten-free recipe, omit adding asafoetida (hing) or use asafoetida that is packaged and labelled gluten-free.
- I use coconut oil, but you can make the Kondakadalai Sundal with sunflower oil, peanut oil or any neutral oil.
- Scale this recipe up to double the servings.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Kondakadalai Sundal recipe post from the archives first published in September 2013 has been republished and updated on 23 July 2022.