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.
“I have made a double-batch of this at least three times in the last three months and it is always a hit. My family loves it and a guest who stayed with us for a week asked if we could take out this particular dish at least once everyday! Thanks again Ashley.”Ruki M.
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).
If you are interested in learning more about Indian Legumes, I’ve written a blog post all about them – be sure to check it out 🙂
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!
- 1 cup brown chickpeas kala chana, soaked overnight
- 2 tablespoons oil of choice
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 onion diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried mango powder amchur
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 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.
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