As a child I thought that legumes or channa was only black in color because that is the channa that my mom cooked a lot. We did not eat much of kabuli channa (garbanzo), which is more popular, because my dad was not too fond of it, so it was black channa or kala channa masala. Once I got married and started cooking on my own, I promised myself that I would never cook kala channa because I had too much of it as a child. But more recently when a family friend who was diagnosed with diabetes told that she had moved to kala channa because it is high on dietary fiber I decided to start cooking it more. The following recipe is more in the Punjabi or North Indian style.
Kala (Black) Channa – ½ kg
Cummin seeds (jeera) – 1tsp
Asafoetida (hing) – a pinch
Caraway seeds (Ajwain) – ½ tsp
Sprig of Curry Leaves
Onions – 2 big chopped finely
Green Chillies – 3 to 4 (more if you want to make it spicier)
Ginger and Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Tomatoes – 2 chopped
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 2 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Amchur (dry mango) Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves and lemon for garnishing
Salt as per taste
Oil – 2 tbsp
How to make home-style, hearty kala chana masala
Black Channa or Kala Channa is very popular in India and for good reason. The recipe is perfect for a cold winter day and will keep your bones strong.
Soak Channa overnight. If you live in colder weather, you can leave it in the oven with a light on. Alternatively you can soak it for a longer time. I usually soak it in the night and then cook it the next evening.
Pressure cook the channa with salt. When we were younger we would sprinkle some coconut and eat the boiled channa as a snack.
The next morning wash the soaked channa well and then pressure cook it. I cook the channa for about 6 to 7 whistles so that it is tender but not mushy. However, my mother-in-law likes the channa to be mushy so she cooks it till 8 to 9 whistles. Depends on how tender you like channa.
Once the oil is hot add curry leaves, cumin seeds, hing, green chillies and caraway seeds.
Heat oil in a deep bottomed vessel. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and let it splutter. Once the jeera splutters, add the hing and caraway seeds to it. Traditionally the recipe does not use caraway seeds but I used it because caraway seeds takes care of gas (If you know what I mean). Usually legumes tend to build gas and caraway seeds help in easing that. I personally think that it also lends a nice smokey flavor to the dish.
Next add the ginger garlic paste followed by green chillies. Fry the green chillies well, this will help reduce the heat in the green chillies and if you are anything like me who loves the chillies but cannot handle the heat, then make sure you fry the chillies very well.
Finely chopped red onions. You could use white onions as well, I personally prefer red onions.
Add the onions and fry them well till they are nice and brown. To speed up this process add a pinch of salt to the onions.
Once the onions are nice and brown and this mixture no longer smells raw, put the gas on low flame and add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and fry it for about two minutes.
At this point add the chopped tomatoes to the mixture and stir it well. Place a lid on it and cook the mixture for sometime. If your channa is cooked by then you can add some channa and the water to the onion-tomato mixture and mash it well. The texture of this mixture should resemble a chutney.
Last but not the least add the cooked channa to the above mixture and let it come to a boil. Lastly sprinkle the amchur (dry mango) powder. Garnish with coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon.
Serve hot with roti or rice! Enjoy! When I cooked this dish I did not have coriander or lemon at home, but add it and your dish will look more appetizing.
Four things you might not know about Kala Channa and its health benefits
- Has only 4 grams of fat per serving.
- Has 15 grams of protein in a 1 cup serving, so its a great choice if you are on a high-protein diet.
- One cup of cooked kala chana contains 45 grams of carbohydrates.
- A cup of boiled kala chana provides 4.7 milligrams of iron, or 28 percent of the daily value.