Kala chana or brown chickpea curry is a flavorful North Indian dish that’s so simple to make in an Instant Pot!
Kala Chana Curry
This is a simple Punjabi vegetarian dish that goes perfectly with rice or roti. It calls for kala chana also known as black chickpeas – though I call them brown chickpeas because that’s what they look like to me.
This brown chickpea curry is a bit saucy and it’s also well spiced but not necessarily spicy – you can easily adapt the heat level by adding more cayenne/red chili powder.
Brown chickpeas have a tasty nutty flavor to them and they’re pretty dense. I think they have a “meaty” quality to them which is why I think this dish is great to serve on a meatless Monday or really any day you want to eat a vegetarian meal.
How are Brown Chickpeas Different Than White Chickpeas?
If you’ve never tried brown chickpeas before, they have a bit of a nutty flavor and are denser when compared to garbanzo beans/chickpeas. This is how I like to describe the difference: if you press a cooked white chickpea between your fingers, it’ll easily smush whereas, with a brown chickpea, you have to press a little harder to smush it. I know that’s probably a strange way to describe the texture but it makes sense, right?
As I mentioned, brown chickpeas have a “meaty” quality. While they do soften after cooking, they don’t absorb much liquid or break down the way other legumes or lentils do. Because of this reason, I only use a little water in this recipe.
I love cooking with brown chickpeas and already have a couple of recipes on the blog that call for them. There’s my recipe for Kadala Coconut Curry which is a south Indian Keralite recipe and is very different from the north Indian curry I’m sharing today. I also have a Sookha Kala Chana recipe which is a “dry” brown chickpea dish – perfect for snacking on alongside a cup of Chai and/or some puris (fried Indian bread).
Can I Make This Curry with Onion Masala?
Yes! Omit the onion, garlic, ginger, and tomato sauce in the recipe and replace it with ¾ cup of onion masala. Also, be sure to add an additional ½ cup of water (for a total of 1 ½ cups). You can keep the remaining spices the same.
Serve this brown chickpea curry over Basmati Rice, roti or just eat a bowl of this on its own!
- ½ cup canned tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- Cilantro garnish
- Soak the brown chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Press the sauté button, add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds to the pot. Once the cumin seeds turn brown, add the onions and stir-fry for about 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown.
- Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, brown chickpeas, water and mix well.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 45 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
- If you prefer a thicker curry, you can reduce the liquid by pressing the sauté button once the dish is done.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.