Kala chana chundal – Black chickpea stir-fry with coconut

We are headlong into festival mode here in India since August.  There was Raksha Bandhan, followed by Krishna Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi, and a week from now it is going to be nine days and nights of celebrating women power, in the form of various Godesses of Hinduism.  That is the core.

A festival is never without it’s specific delicacies.  Each of these nine days South-Indians make a sweet and savoury offering (prasad / naivedyam) to nine deities, one, each day.  We usually make various types of ‘chundal’.  Chundal (or sundal) translates in English as ‘stir-fried’.  Each day we stir-fry one legume, smattering it generously with fresh coconut, season it and offer.  The legumes commonly used are konda kadalai (kabuli chana), kadala paruppu (bengal gram), pataani (dry peas), and verakadalai (peanuts).  With migration to North India and other regions, chundal soon included sabut moong (mung beans) and kala chana (black chickpeas).

Black chickpeas is basically a product of the North of India and is now easily available down South too.  It looks similar to kabuli chana (chickpeas) but it has black skin.  Like the former it is a dried legume that needs to be soaked overnight to allow softening before cooking.  I use a pressure cooker, as it saves time.

Just two weeks back I received a mail asking how these are cooked.  I understand it can be found abroad in Asian grocery stores.  Here is a beginner’s recipe – simple, easy and delicious.  It can be served as an appetizer as well a side dish with rice and gravy.  We serve it with rasam, and with rice and curd (vegan recipe here) .  Since it is a heavy protein, I would not serve it with sambar, which is also legume based.

Cooking can’t get simpler than this!

Recipe: Kala chana chundal / Black chickpea stir-fry with coconuts
Yield: Serves 5 portions

Black chickpeas, dried / Kala chana – 250g
Coconut, freshly grated – 1/2 cup, level
Green chillies – 2
Fine ground sea salt – to taste
Coconut oil (or any neutral oil) – 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds / rai – 1 tsp.
Husked, split, black gram dal / urad dal – 1/2 tsp.
Curry leaves, 1 sprig, trimmed and cut into ribbons (optional)


Soak the legumes overnight or for 5-6 hours. Rinse and drain water. Pressure cook adding enough water to cover the legumes, and a little salt on high for 3 whistles. Further, cook on reduced heat for five minutes. Let cool naturally, before opening to he cooker. Some beans that are really hard call for cooking on low flame for nearly 10 minutes. This is where I find organic legumes better. Drain cooked legumes in a colander.

Heat a wok. Pour oil, and when hot add mustard seeds. When these pop, add black gram dal followed by curry leaves and drained chickpeas.

Saute on high flame till all residual liquid dries. Smash a teaspoon of coconut with green chillies. Add this and the remaining coconut to the chickpea saute.

Mix well and serve with rice, and rasam or vegan-dahi.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Meenakshiguptaaa gupta

    I read about u in GoodFood magazine and went through blogs. Read about vega curd nd almond milk. Tomorrow I m going to try this nd then give u the feedback. Thanks

    • Harini

      Thanks for visiting, Meenakshi. I would love to have your feedback on this.

  • Anamika

    I love to know about your vegan recipes and love the way you serve and garnish them. Looks tasty.

    • Harini

      Great! That means you will try it? 😀 Thank you, Anamika. 🙂

  • GiGi

    I’ve never heard of black chickpeas prior to now. I am wowed by the pictures and the recipe.

    • Harini

      It was a mail from US that prompted this recipe. I am told it is available in Asian stores.

  • Happy Cook / Finla

    That is a beautiful bowl is tha tin stone, first time i had sundal was when i visited srivalli and loved it. I didn’t know black chann was typical for N. India. I always thought it was S. India, i think i thought that because when i was living home it was opposite, it was only the black channa available in the shops and it is later the white one was avialble .

    • Harini

      Finla, I will have to check up. Some of my friends mentioned this too. I am trying to get the facts right. They brought my notice to the fact that kadala curry is typically Keralite! Do you know what it is called in Malayalam?

      • Happy Cook / Finla

        Harini we call it kadala curry too. And i think your other readers might be correct too, about we only got black kadala in Kerala.

        • Harini

          Thanks! Another point to correct myself on. 🙂

    • BongMom

      Finla and Harini

      Black chana is very popular in N.India. A version of kalal chana is a staple with pooris for Pujas and festivals. The spicing is a little different and there are versions with and without onion-garlic
      Mine is here:

      • Harini

        Hi Bongmom, I know about the popularity in the North. I thought it was a late entrant in South, but considering that Kerala always had kadala curry as a staple with aapam, I am having doubts. I too make kala chana without onion-garlic, but I sometimes add potatoes also, like you said for kanchak. 🙂

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