This one-pot Kala Chana recipe is a delicious dish that is sure to impress the whole family on even the busiest of weeknights. With just 30 minutes of active time, this easy traditional Punjabi dish of black chickpea curry will be on the table and ready for a fuss-free dinner.
Rinse black chickpeas for a couple of times in water.
In a large enough bowl, take 2.5 cups water and soak the black chickpeas or kala chana in it overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.
Drain the water. Using a colander or strainer, rinse the soaked chickpeas in water for a couple of times and set aside.
Making kala chana
In a 3 litre pressure cooker, add 2 tablespoon oil or ghee. Reduce the heat to a low.
Add cumin seeds. Let them crackle and then add finely chopped onions.
Sauté onions till they become light golden on a medium-low to medium heat. Again reduce the heat to a low.
Add finely chopped garlic, green chilli, ginger and sauté for 10 to 12 seconds or until the raw aroma of garlic and ginger goes away.
Add finely chopped tomatoes and sauté them on a medium-low heat until the oil starts leaving from the sides of the onion-tomato masala. The tomatoes should soften and become pulpy.
Swap fresh tomatoes with tomato puree or canned tomatoes. Crush the canned tomatoes before you add them. For tomato puree, add about ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of it.
Add turmeric powder, asafoetida, coriander powder, kashmiri red chili powder and sauté for a minute on low heat.
Then add the soaked black chickpeas and water. Season with salt and mix well.
Pressure cook chana on a medium heat for 10 to 11 minutes or 10 to 12 whistles until the chickpeas are cooked tender and softened well. If they have a hard center or are undercooked, pressure cook further for 5 minutes.
Lastly sprinkle the curry with garam masala and coriander leaves. If you like, garnish punjabi kala chana gravy with coriander leaves.
Serve the black chickpeas gravy with steamed rice, roti.
Serve the kala chana gravy hot or warm with Indian breads like Roti or Paratha or Poori. This curry can also be enjoyed as a light soup with some toasted bread or dinner rolls.
Rice is also a great option to serve with kala chana. Use your preferred rice – basmati or any variety. Flavored rice dishes like Jeera Rice (cumin rice), Ghee Rice also taste good with the curry.
Store any leftover kala chana in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. While serving, reheat the curry in a pan and serve with a side of your choice.
Recipe and Ingredient Notes
Black Chickpeas: Remember to use fresh chickpeas that are under their shelf period for a flavorsome curry. Chickpeas that are old take more time to cook.
Soaking: I recommend to soak black chickpeas overnight or for about 8 hours as the have a tougher skin. Chickpeas that are soaked well enough, cook properly making them easy to digest.
Consistency: Change the kala chana curry consistency as per your liking. Add some water for a soupy consistency. To make a thick consistency, include less water. Generally Punjabi kala chana has a medium-thin to thin consistency and is not thick.
Thicker curry: To make a thicker gravy, simmer the curry and chickpeas with no lid after the pressure has been released from the pressure cooker. This will help to evaporate some of the excess liquid. Secondly, choose to mash or blend a ladle-full of the chana with some water. Add the mashed chickpeas back to the gravy and simmer on low heat for a few minutes. This will release some of the starch into the gravy, which should then thicken the sauce. Thirdly, you can add a tablespoon or two of roasted besan (or chickpea flour) to the mix, stirring well to combine.
Spicing: If you prefer a less spicy version, lower the quantity of green chillies and red chilli powder or cayenne pepper.
Instant Pot Kala Chana
Follow the recipe instructions as is by first sautéing the aromatics, tomatoes and ground spices in the Instant Pot steel insert, using the sauté function.
Add 1.5 cups water, salt and pressure cook on high pressure for 25 to 30 minutes.
After the cooking is complete, when you hear the beep sound, wait for 10 to 12 minutes and then give a quick pressure release. Lastly add garam masala and coriander leaves to the curry.
Cooking in a Pot
First soak the chana in water for 8 to 9 hours or overnight. To make the curry in a pot, first cook the kala chana with 2 cups of water or as needed in a medium to large pot or pan on stovetop on medium to medium-high heat. Soaked kala chana will take more than an hour to cook in a pot. Cover and cook.
Then sauté aromatics, spices and tomatoes in a pan or skillet. Add the cooked kala chana and salt. Add 1 cup water or as required.
Mix and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes or more until the gravy thickens a bit and the kala chana has absorbed the flavors of the masala. Lastly add the coriander leaves and garam masala.