Kala Chana (Black Chana)

April 18th, 2011 filed under Dal (Lentils), Gluten Free, Vegan
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Kala Chana is very high in protein and provides a nutritional meal. It has a low glycemic index and is a good protein option for people with Diabetes. Kala Chana is a variation of the commonly found chickpea but it is dark brown in color and smaller in size. It is also known as Bengal gram.

This recipe will serve 6


  • 1 cup kala chana
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 tablespoons gram flour (besan)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 green chili finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder (dhania)
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric (haldi)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons salt adjust to taste
  • Approximately 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (hara dhania) to garnish


  1. Wash and soak kala chana in approx. 4 cups of water, for at least 6 hours. The kala chana will double in volume after soaking.
  2. In a small bowl mix ginger, green chili, coriander powder, turmeric, and chili powder with ¼ cup of water. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium high heat. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed and if it cracks immediately, the oil is ready for cooking.
  4. Add cumin seeds and as they crack, add asafetida and gram flour. Stir for few seconds. Add the mixed spices (step 2) and stir for another minute.
  5. Add soaked kala chana, and 4 cups of water to the pressure cooker. Close the cooker. As it starts steaming, turn down the heat to medium and cook for approx. 12 minutes. If your pressure cooker whistles then wait for 4-5 whistles.
  6. Turn off the heat and wait until all the steam has released before opening the pressure cooker.
  7. Add salt and slightly press down on the Kala Chana to thicken the gravy, let it cook for 2-3 minutes on low heat. You can always adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding more water. Simmer for a few minutes after adding the water.
  8. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro, just before serving. This goes very well with plain rice and makes for a complete meal.


Kala Chana can also be prepared without a pressure cooker. Just remember to cook on medium heat for 50 minutes to an hour with the lid closed. Unlike other beans, Kala Chana holds its shape well even after cooking, so be sure to test if it has cooked all the way.

If you enjoyed the recipe for Kala Chana (Black Chana), here are more great recipes you should try from Manjula's Kitchen.

24 Responses to “Kala Chana (Black Chana)”

  1. Shazia says:

    Thank you for such a delicious and heart warming recipe. This is the way my mom makes it. Warm regards. Shazia

  2. vineeta says:

    Nice . yummy. It helps me a lot.

  3. Sumaya says:

    thnku vry much fr dis recipe…it will taste better if we blend 2tbsps of milk powder n 2tbsps of cooked chana to d coconut milk and add it to the curry n yeah d coconut shd be roasted too..if you are a thick gravy lover try dis…it vl taste yummyy..trust me!!!

  4. IndiraManooHarridan says:

    Dear aunty I would like to try this dish my husband loves chickpeas one question I have is what can be substitute for gram flour can I used regular all purpose flour

    • Teresa says:

      I loved this recipe. I used chickpea flour and the gravy was not so thick. Next time I would use the flour listed in the ingredients or one used for basic rioux. All purpose flour would work. Other alternatives could be corn starch or potato flour. Just some ideas.

      • Manjula Jain says:

        All purpose flour will not work, Use BESAN you can find this in Indian grocery stores, if you do not have besan mash some kala chana to give thickness to gravey. Chickpea flour is not the same as besan and if you follow my recipes I use besan for many dishes.

  5. SS says:

    What is a good substitute for besan (gram flour) for people with allergic to it? Corn starch?

  6. Lonormi Manuel says:

    Your videos are VERY helpful! It really helps me to see what you’re doing as I look at the recipe. Thank you so much!

  7. khoG says:

    Wow..you saved my Day:)Tried Indian dish for the first time and your recipe was great!Slurp!Thank you:-)You are a life Savior…

  8. Aayushi says:

    I tried this recipe.. and it came out great. Fast and Easy ! Thank you Manjula Aunty. :)

  9. Shabda41 says:

    I made this recipe for a second time. It is so delicious! Most Anglo-Americans have never even heard of black chickpeas.
    Maybe I was Indian in my last life because I can eat this every day and not get tired of it. I make it exactly as written except I don’t use a pressure cooker. I have to order the black chickpeas online as there is no Indian grocery near me. I am happy to have discovered ‘hing” as well. The smell when you drop it into hot oil is wonderful. Do you have any other recipes using black chick peas? Thank you for your website.

    • Neil P. says:

      I agree – I love black chana – always have. They are great boiled – with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and red pepper mixed in. A great high-protein snack. I am looking forward to more recipes on here too – I grew up with a similar dry-paste version of this curry and haven’t seen them incorporated elsewhere.

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