Masala Black Chickpeas Recipe

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Photo by Nassima Rothacker

Black chickpeas (kala chana) have a slightly different flavor — a little nuttier, perhaps — than the regular, beige-colored chickpeas. They have a more robust texture than regular chickpeas, so they don’t crumble or become completely soft during cooking. They’re cooked with just a few basic spices in this simple dish that’s full of flavor. In India, chickpeas are often eaten with deep-fried puris, but I suggest serving this meal with chapati, rice, or chutney and salad. Yield: 4 servings.


  • 10-1/2 ounces dried black chickpeas
  • 3-1/2 pints water, for soaking
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely shredded
  • 2 small green chilies, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/3 pint water

To garnish:

  • Handful of chopped chives
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges


  1. Put the black chickpeas into a large saucepan with water and let them soak for 6 to 7 hours, or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, add the salt and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium — low, partially cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chickpeas are tender and almost all the water has evaporated. Set aside.
  3. Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until they begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the ginger and green chiles and cook for 1 minute. Add the coriander and garam masala and cook for just 10 seconds, then pour in the water and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Pour the cooked chickpeas into the saucepan and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, to allow the chickpeas to take on the flavor of
    the masala.
  5. Divide the chickpeas evenly among 4 serving bowls, then top each bowlful with chives and a lime wedge, so each person can squeeze it over their chickpeas. Serve immediately.

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Chetna Makan was born in Jabalpur, an ancient city in central India. She has a degree in fashion and worked in Mumbai as a fashion designer before moving to the United Kingdom in 2003. She reached the semifinal of “The Great British Baking Show” in 2014, and her first book, The Cardamom Trail, is a celebration of baking with Indian flavors. She also has a YouTube channel, Food with Chetna, where she shares her creative flair for food.

This recipe is excerpted from Chetna’s latest book, Chetna’s Healthy Indian (Octopus Publishing, 2019).

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
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