Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Kadala Curry: Kerala Style Black Chickpea Curry

Undecided Sun. Clouds Gathering.
Curry still resting. Over simmered.
Faint fragrance of spices in the air.
Hasty set of shots. Austere styling.
Stark, severe. Like life at this point.

It has been raining profusely here. So much so that lakes overflowed onto roads, their waters carrying the life within - fish swimming on streets; people catching them happily! Thankfully, the floods were quite some distance away from us and the only repercussions felt here were incessant rains at nights and a bout of cold and windy air.

It is not as if I have never seen floods. I come from a place where interconnected streams, water channels, rivers and lakes all flow abundantly; forming the life blood of lush, green agricultural fields. Till a few years ago, when the main road that connected the place to the nearest town was finally raised to such a height that the floods on either side of the paddy fields no longer engulfed the roads, the seamless, all enveloping authority of rain water was a familiar sight during each monsoon.

It doesn't normally rain like that in this city, which is why the floods were a surprise. (That the city is ill equipped to handle floods is another story.) But 'normal' is a term that is barely applicable to anything these days. We had one of the worst summers this year; so a season of torrential rains afterwards is poetic justice, I think. Or maybe the good earth is so fed up of our antics that it just is not going to be the same ever, no matter what.
Before moving onto the recipe, I just want to mention something. A few of you have been asking for access to the old blog (which is private now). Although I used to give access to most of those who requested till a few months ago, I am sorry that I will no longer be doing that. It is indeed annoying to see a ‘No Access’ message when you click through pinterest etc. So if you are looking for a specific recipe, just drop me a message here/mail me at the address mentioned here. I will either mail you back with the recipe or post it here if I have the pictures handy. I will try to post some of the more popular recipes here in the coming months. (This recipe is from 2012.) Once again, apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Kadala Curry: Kerala Style Black Chickpea Curry

Puttum Kadalayum (Steamed Rice Flour Cakes and Brown Chickpea Curry): A beloved combination and an everyday breakfast affair from Kerala. I have adjusted the amounts of ingredients over the years to suit our requirement of a lot of gravy. (Please do note that the gravy appears thick here as I unintentionally over reduced it. I didn’t loosen it up for the shots as I thought it shows everything more clearly.)
Serves 6


The Chickpeas:
  1. Black Chick Peas - 1 cup (Soak overnight in water.)
The Gravy:
  1. Onions, sliced - 2 cups
  2. Tomatoes, finely diced - 1/2 to 3/4 cup
  3. Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp.
  4. Coriander Powder - 1 and a 1/2 tbsp.
  5. Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder - Generous 1/2 tbsp.
  6. Homemade Meat Masala Powder - 1 tsp. + About 1/2 tsp. to finish. (You can use store bought as well. See Notes.)
  7. Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp.
  8. Water
  9. Salt
  10. Coconut Oil
The Seasoning:
  1. Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp.
  2. Curry Leaves - Couple of stalks
  3. Dried Red Chillies - 2 (Optional)
  4. Coconut Oil

The Chickpeas:

Pressure-cook the soaked chickpeas in enough water till they are about half done.

The Gravy:

Meanwhile, start preparing the masala. Heat up a pan and add some coconut oil, followed by the onions and some salt. Sauté till they turn dark brown in colour. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell is gone.

Now add the spice powders and sauté the masala well. Sprinkle some water if needed so that you don’t burn the powders. Now add the tomatoes and cook till they get mashed up and incorporated well into the masala.

Once the chickpeas are ready and the pressure has fallen, open the pressure cooker, mix the masala well with them and continue pressure-cooking till the chickpeas get done.

Once cooked, check the curry for salt and adjust. Let the curry simmer uncovered for some time, during which you can add more water (or reduce the gravy) if required. (I crush a few chickpeas well and let them blend into the gravy while it is simmering – This thickens the gravy a bit and gives it more body. For some reason, this was slightly frowned upon at home.)

The Seasoning:

Heat up a small pan and add coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Now add the dried red chillies (if using) and the curry leaves. Stir for a few seconds and pour all of these, including the oil, into the prepared curry. Add the additional meat masala powder as well and stir to combine.
Rest the curry for a quarter of an hour at least.

Serve hot with Puttu (Steamed cakes made of rice flour).

  1. You can use store bought Masala Powder in place of the home ground one. Look for one from Kerala and use a generous half tablespoon when you are sauteing the masala. Avoid adding more at the end.
  2. The gravy appears thick in the photos because I let it simmer in a clay pot and then inadvertently let it sit in the same pot till it went cold. This is not how we have it normally. The consistency is supposed to be somewhat thin.
  3. The curry appears a bit reddish here, but it will turn darker as it sits. Also, the store bought Chilli Powder seemed a bit too scarlet to me than my regular Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder. (I am not sure if it is caused by a difference in Chillies or if it is just pigmented additionally. This is one of the worst things that happen when we can't go home for months - I run out of my Mother in Law's local-mill-ground spice powders. Store bought ones just doesn’t stand a chance compared with hers.)
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