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Kadala curry

Updated: 5 days ago


Kadala curry

Total cooking time

40 minutes

Number of servings

Intermediate


Kadala curry or black chickpea curry is made using black chickpea with grinded coconut. Black chickpeas being a good source of proteins, this curry is nutritious and healthy. This curry is one of the most common breakfast curries in Kerala.


Kadala curry is a beloved South Indian dish, especially prominent in Kerala, featuring black chickpeas (known as "kadala" in Malayalam) simmered in a rich, aromatic gravy. This vegetarian curry, celebrated for its robust flavors and wholesome ingredients, is a staple in Kerala cuisine, often paired with puttu (steamed rice flour and coconut cylinders), appam (fermented rice pancakes), or rice. This essay delves into the origins, ingredients, preparation methods, variations, nutritional benefits, and culinary significance of kadala curry.

Origins and Cultural Significance

Kadala curry is deeply rooted in Kerala’s culinary traditions, reflecting the region's agrarian lifestyle and the rich biodiversity of its ingredients. Kerala, located on the southwestern coast of India, is known for its lush landscapes, coconut groves, and abundant spices. These elements heavily influence the local cuisine, including kadala curry.

  • Historical Context: Kerala's history as a major spice trade hub has infused its cuisine with a variety of flavors and techniques. Kadala curry, with its use of black chickpeas and a blend of spices, mirrors this cultural amalgamation.

  • Cultural Relevance: Kadala curry is not just a dish but a part of everyday life in Kerala. It is often enjoyed as a hearty breakfast, served with puttu or appam, or as a comforting meal with rice. Its simplicity, combined with nutritional richness, makes it a versatile dish suitable for various occasions.


Ingredients


Kadala curry relies on a combination of local ingredients that contribute to its distinctive taste and texture. Here’s a breakdown of the key components:

  1. Black Chickpeas (Kala Chana):

  • Black chickpeas are smaller and darker than regular chickpeas. They have a denser texture and a slightly nuttier flavor, making them ideal for soaking up the spices and gravy.

  • Rich in protein, fiber, and essential minerals, black chickpeas form the backbone of the curry.

  1. Coconut:

  • Coconut Oil: Used for tempering, imparting a unique aroma and flavor characteristic of Kerala cuisine.

  • Coconut Paste or Milk: Adds creaminess and a rich, slightly sweet flavor to the curry. Freshly grated coconut or coconut milk can be used depending on preference.

  1. Spices:

  • Mustard Seeds: Used in tempering to add a nutty flavor and slight heat.

  • Cumin Seeds: Adds earthiness and depth.

  • Coriander Powder: Contributes a mild, aromatic flavor.

  • Turmeric Powder: Adds color and a subtle bitterness.

  • Red Chili Powder: Provides heat and color.

  • Garam Masala: A blend of spices that adds complexity and warmth to the curry.

  1. Aromatics:

  • Onions: Typically finely chopped or sliced and sautéed to form the base of the curry.

  • Garlic and Ginger: Minced or ground into a paste, these aromatics add depth and a slight pungency.

  • Green Chilies: Provide additional heat and a fresh, vibrant flavor.

  1. Tomatoes:

  • Adds acidity and a slight sweetness, balancing the richness of the coconut and the earthiness of the chickpeas.

  1. Curry Leaves:

  • A staple in South Indian cooking, curry leaves add a unique, aromatic flavor to the tempering.


Preparation Methods

The preparation of kadala curry involves several steps to develop its rich, layered flavors:


  1. Soaking and Cooking the Chickpeas:

  • Soaking: Black chickpeas are soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours. This helps in softening the chickpeas, reducing cooking time, and enhancing digestibility.

  • Cooking: The soaked chickpeas are then cooked until tender. This can be done in a pressure cooker for faster results or simmered in a pot for a traditional approach.

  1. Making the Coconut Paste:

  • Freshly grated coconut is ground with spices (like cumin and coriander) and water to form a smooth paste. This paste will be added to the curry to provide a creamy texture.

  1. Preparing the Base:

  • Tempering: In a pan, coconut oil is heated, and mustard seeds are added until they crackle. Cumin seeds, curry leaves, and green chilies are then added to infuse the oil with their flavors.

  • Sautéing: Onions are added to the tempered oil and sautéed until golden brown. Garlic and ginger paste is then added and sautéed until the raw smell disappears.

  • Spices: Ground spices like turmeric, red chili powder, and coriander powder are added and sautéed briefly to release their aromas.

  • Tomatoes: Chopped tomatoes are added and cooked until they break down into a thick, rich paste.

  1. Combining and Simmering:

  • The cooked chickpeas are added to the onion-tomato mixture, followed by the coconut paste or milk. The curry is then simmered to allow the flavors to meld.

  • Tamarind juice is added towards the end to introduce a tangy note.

  1. Final Touch:

  • A sprinkle of garam masala and a garnish of fresh cilantro (coriander leaves) enhance the flavor profile of the finished dish.

  1. Serving:

  • Kadala curry is traditionally served with puttu, appam, or steamed rice. It can also be enjoyed with roti or dosa for a different experience.


Variations Across Regions

Kadala curry can be adapted in various ways to reflect local tastes and ingredient availability:

  1. Traditional Kerala Kadala Curry:

  • Emphasizes the use of coconut and a blend of local spices.

  • Often includes a tadka (tempering) with coconut oil, curry leaves, and dried red chilies.

  1. North Indian Kala Chana Curry:

  • Similar in using black chickpeas but may omit coconut and instead use a tomato-based gravy with garam masala.

  1. Sri Lankan Kadala Curry:

  • Incorporates coconut milk and sometimes additional vegetables like potatoes or squash.

  • Uses Sri Lankan curry powder and pandan leaves for a distinctive flavor.

  1. Vegan and Health-Conscious Variations:

  • Substitute coconut milk with a low-fat version or use almond or cashew milk for a healthier alternative.

  • Include additional vegetables like spinach or bell peppers for extra nutrition and variety.


Nutritional Benefits

Kadala curry is not just flavorful but also packed with nutrients:

  1. Protein and Fiber:

  • Black chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber, which support muscle health and digestion.

  1. Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Chickpeas provide essential vitamins like folate and minerals such as iron and magnesium.

  • Coconut adds beneficial fats and micronutrients like manganese and copper.

  1. Antioxidants:

  • Spices used in kadala curry, like turmeric and cumin, are rich in antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and support overall health.

  1. Low Glycemic Index:

  • Black chickpeas have a low glycemic index, making them suitable for managing blood sugar levels.

  1. Heart Health:

  • Coconut oil, when used in moderation, can support heart health due to its unique fatty acid composition.


Tips for Perfect Kadala Curry

Achieving the perfect kadala curry requires attention to several details:

  1. Soaking and Cooking Chickpeas:

  • Ensure chickpeas are thoroughly soaked and cooked to a tender consistency for the best texture and flavor absorption.

  1. Balancing Flavors:

  • Taste and adjust the balance of salt, spice, and tanginess (from tamarind) to suit your preferences.

  1. Consistency:

  • Adjust the consistency of the curry by adding more or less water or coconut milk, depending on whether you prefer a thicker or thinner gravy.

  1. Freshness of Spices:

  • Use fresh spices for tempering and in the coconut paste to ensure a vibrant, aromatic curry.

  1. Garnishing:

  • A final garnish of fresh cilantro can enhance the flavor and presentation of the curry.

Conclusion

Kadala curry exemplifies the rich culinary traditions of Kerala, offering a delightful blend of flavors and textures that highlight the region’s agricultural bounty and spice heritage. This dish, with its nourishing black chickpeas, creamy coconut base, and aromatic spices, is more than just a meal; it’s a reflection of Kerala’s cultural and culinary identity. Whether enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or a comforting dinner, kadala curry continues to be a favorite among many, celebrated for its taste, versatility, and nutritional value.

It goes well with puttu, idiyappam, paratha, poori, etc. It can also be used as side dish for rice. When I hear of puttu, the best vegetarian combination that comes in my mind is this kadala curry. I will share the recipe of Kadala curry. Here is how to do it. Please do try at home.


Ingredients

  1. Kadala/Black chickpeas – 1 cup

  2. Grated coconut- 1/2 cup

  3. Onion – 2

  4. Tomato – 1

  5. Ginger garlic paste- 1 teaspoon

  6. Turmeric powder- 1/4 teaspoon

  7. Chilli powder- 1/2 teaspoon

  8. Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon

  9. Garam masala – 1 teaspoon

  10. Green chilli – 2

  11. Salt – as per required

  12. Water

  13. Oil


Method of preparation

  1. Rinse and soak the black chickpeas in 2 cups of water overnight

  2. Pressure cook the chickpeas by using the same water + additional 1 cup of water by adding 1 tsp of salt

  3. Meanwhile when the chickpeas are getting cooked, take a kadai

  4. Add 2 tablespoon of oil

  5. Add onion, stir and saute for a minute

  6. Then add ginger garlic paste and green chilli

  7. Saute till the onion becomes golden brown

  8. Add tomato

  9. Now add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala

  10. Stir the masalas very well on a low flame and saute for a minute

  11. Grind the grated coconut and one handful of cooked chickpeas by adding some water

  12. Add it to the prepared masala

  13. Finally add the cooked black chickpeas/kadala to it

  14. Add the chickpeas stock also

  15. Taste and add salt if needed

  16. Let the curry boil

  17. Simmer until all the flavors and the chickpeas are well blended

  18. Garnish the curry with curry leaves.

Grinding together grated coconut and some cooked chickpeas gives a good texture for our curry.

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