kadala curry recipe, kerala kadala curry recipe
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4.79 from 23 votes

Kadala Curry

Kadala curry is a spicy black chickpeas curry from the Kerala cuisine. Gluten-free and vegan.
Prep Time8 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time8 hrs 55 mins
Course: main course
Cuisine: kerala
Servings: 4
Author: Dassana Amit


for cooking the chickpeas

  • ¾ cup black chickpeas (kala chana or desi chana or whole bengal gram or kadala)
  • 2 cups water for soaking black chickpeas
  • 2.5 cups water or the soaked water+fresh water for pressure cooking

for kerala garam masala

  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 to 3 strands of mace
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 pinches of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder

for coconut paste

  • ½ cup grated coconut, tightly packed
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup water for grinding coconut

other ingredients for kadala curry

  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots or pearl onions (sambar onions)
  • ½ inch ginger chopped, about 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 or 2 green chilies chopped, about 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

    (ground coriander)

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 to 1.25 cups of water or stock
  • 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. Here's a pic of the soaked black chickpeas. You can also use white chickpeas instead of black chickpeas.
  • Take the black chickpeas in the pressure cooker. Add 2.5 cups of fresh water or overall 2.5 cups of the soaked water + fresh water. I usually do not throw away the soaked water of black chickpeas. Add 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Stir and pressure cook the chickpeas for 10 to 12 whistles till they are tender and cooked through.

preparing coconut paste

  • Meanwhile when the chickpeas are cooking, take 1/2 cup tightly packed grated coconut in a grinder jar. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup water and grind 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 - 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 to 3 strands of mace, 1 inch cinnamon, 3 cloves, 3 pinches of 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 2 tbsp coconut oil in a pan.
  • Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • Add 1/3 cup chopped shallots. Stir and saute for a minute.
  • Then add 1 tsp chopped ginger, 1 tsp chopped green chilies, 10 to 12 curry leaves and saute till the shallots turn translucent or a light brown.
  • Then add 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper powder and the ground kerala garam masala. If you already have kerala garam masala, then just add 1 tsp of it. 1 tsp of red chili powder, makes this curry spicy. So reduce to 1/2 for a less spicy version.
  • Stir the masalas very well and saute for a minute on low flame.
  • Then add the ground coconut paste.
  • Stir very well.
  • Saute for 4 to 5 minutes on a low flame.
  • Then add the cooked black chana or kadala. Stir very well.
  • Then add 1 to 1.25 cups water and stir.
  • Season with the required amount of salt and stir kadala curry again.
  • Let the kadala curry come to a boil and the gravy reduces a bit. The flavors and chickpeas should also be well blended.
  • Serve kadala curry hot with puttu or appams or steamed rice.


For cooking chickpeas in a pot. add the soaked chickpeas and 2.5 to 3 cups water in a pot with the salt. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Later on a medium to high flame, cook the chickpeas till they are tender.