My best Kerala Kadala curry recipe which I proudly claim as 'better than mom's' curry. Boiled black chickpeas in a flavourful spicy onion-tomato gravy enriched with ground coconut paste.
Just like appam and ishthu, dosa and chutney, Puttu Kadala curry are match made in food heaven. This black chickpeas curry is so easy to prepare and can be made ahead too. Though the husband loves to have this only with puttu, my mom loves to serve this Kerala style kadala curry with chapati, rice or even ari dosha.
Better than Mom's Curry
I am sharing my version of Kadala Curry because it took me several bad batches before striking gold. Even my mom's recipe is not my favourite. I boldly state this as Better than Mom's Kadala Curry! You will agree when you make this like many of my readers already do.
I like my curry to be thick and together not thin where the Kadala refuses to marry the curry. I have made this version of Kadala curry umpteen times and since then F is more open to having Puttu Kadala for a weekend breakfast.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- black chickpeas: These are usually brown and are sometimes labelled as Tyson chickpeas. You may find them as brown chickpeas or kala chana.
- coconut oil: You may use any cooking oil.
- veggies: You will need red onion, green chillies, ginger, tomatoes, curry leaves and shallots.
- ground spices: You will need red chilli powder, turmeric, coriander and my Malabar garam masala powder.
- grated coconut: You can use fresh or frozen or even rehydrated desiccated coconut.
- whole spices: You will need dried red chillies, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. You may use fennel seeds instead of cumin.
There are two ways to start the Kadala curry recipe. If I am making and serving immediately, then I start the curry with the tadka or tempering. The step-by-step images here follow this process. But, if I am making it ahead to serve only the next day, then I skip the tempering and start with sauteing of onion, etc. This is because I will get a chance to reheat and add a freshly made tadka to the curry making it taste better.
For detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card below.
Always soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of water. Use a stove-top Pressure cooker to cook the soaked chickpeas with enough water and salt. Cook for 4 to 5 whistles on medium heat and let natural pressure release.
While the chickpeas are cooking, use a heavy-bottomed pan to roast the grated. coconut. Roast the coconut with a few dried red chillies.
Roast on low heat stirring often until they turn golden. Take care not to burn them. Some families add the ground spices during this proces. I don't because it stains multiple utensils unnecessarily.
Add the roasted coconut mixture to a mini mixie or chutney maker along with 1 to 2 tablespoons of boiled chickpeas and a ¼ cup of water (you can use from the pressure cooker). Let the items cool before you process to make a paste.
While that is cooling, you can start the process of making Kadala curry recipe! Start with heating coconut oil and crackle mustard seeds, followed by cumin seeds and curry leaves.
Then add the finely chopped red onion or shallots and saute until they turn translucent. Also add a little grated ginger along with a few green chillies and saute for a minute.
Next, add the roughly chopped ripe tomatoes with a dash of salt.
Reduce the heat to low-medium and add all the ground spices. As the spices can get burnt taste easily, it is important you reduce the heat or move the pan off that hob while adding the ground spices.
A few tablespoons of water will also help in cooking the ground spices with tomatoes. Stir and cook until there is no raw spice powder smell.
Dump the pressure cooked black chickpeas with all of the water too.
Adjust salt as needed and bring the kadala curry to a full boil.
Add the prepared coconut paste to the curry and give it a good stir.
Bring it to a light boil, stir and adjust the salt. Lastly, I like to add some torn curry leaves and slit green chillies. Your Kadala curry recipe is done!
- Pressure Cooker: Perfect for cooking chickpeas quickly and efficiently. You can use Instant Pot too.
- Heavy-bottomed Pot: For sautéing onions, tomatoes, and spices. This is where the curry resides.
- Blender: I use my mini chutney maker jar to make the ground coconut paste.
Any leftover Kadala curry has to be refrigerated and used up within 3 days for best flavour. I highly recommend using a ceramic, porcelain, steel or glass container to store curry in the fridge. Save your tupperware from turmeric stains - from experience.
Tip - I have always resorted to store-bought puttu podi though many claim it is easy to make at home. I have watched my mom make puttu podi, puttu and curry the same morning for our breakfast! Her time management skills are another level or I am plain lazy. But if you are interested in trying, my friend Rafeeda has puttu recipe with video.
Looking for other recipes using chickpeas? Try these:
Kadala Curry Recipe
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (Use black/brown/red)
- 2 cups water
- salt to taste
Roast and Grind
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 2 to 3 dried red chillies torn
- 2 tablespoons boiled chickpeas
- ¼ cup water
Onion Tomato Masala
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 medium-sized red onion diced finely
- 3 green chillies slit
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger (you may use 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste)
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Malabar garam masala
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes roughly chopped
- ½ cup water (To adjust the consistency can use up to ¾ cup)
- salt to taste
To Temper (tadka)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 3 to 4 mini shallots optional
- Soak the dried black chickpeas in plenty of water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the water to use. For quicker option, you can soak in hot water for 3 to 4 hours.1 cup dried chickpeas
Pressure cook chickpeas
- Pressure cook or boil the soaked black chickpeas with salt until soft. It can take 4 to 5 whistles on medium heat. Let the pressure cool on its own. Check the doneness and pressure cook more if required. The chickpeas should hold the shape and yet be melted in the mouth soft.2 cups water, salt to taste
- Meanwhile, roast the coconut along with the red chillies until the coconut becomes light brown colour and fragrant. Do it carefully by taking the pan away from the fire when it gets too hot and stirring continuously to roast evenly to a golden brown colour.½ cup grated coconut, 2 to 3 dried red chillies
- Transfer the roasted mixture to a mini processor or chutney maker along with a tablespoon of boiled chickpeas. Grind it to a thick paste with some water.2 tablespoons boiled chickpeas, ¼ cup water
Prepare the kadala curry
- Heat some more coconut oil in a deep pot and add onions and saute until translucent.1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 medium-sized red onion
- Add the grated ginger (or ginger-garlic paste) and a few green chillies and sauté for a minute.1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Next, add the chopped ripe tomatoes with a dash of salt.2 medium-sized tomatoes
- Add all the spice powders and fry for a couple of minutes until the raw smell is gone. You may add a few tablespoons of water to prevent them from getting burnt.1 teaspoon red chilli powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 tablespoons coriander powder, ½ teaspoon Malabar garam masala, salt to taste
- Reduce the flame to low and cover the pot to cook down the tomatoes until no trace of chunks.
- Dump all of the cooked black chickpeas along with the water and bring this to a full boil.
- Add the prepared coconut paste, wash down the jar with some water and add that too and bring to a boil on low to medium flame and let it simmer while you prepare the tadka.½ cup water
- Heat coconut oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Now add the curry leaves and a few mini shallots, if using. Pour the tadka immediately over the kadala curry, stir to mix and switch off. Keep covered until serving time.1 tablespoon coconut oil, ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 sprig curry leaves, 3 to 4 mini shallots, 3 green chillies
- Serve hot with warm puttu (steamed rice cake) or boiled rice or chapatis.