Punjabi Kala Chana (Black Chickpea Curry)

punjabi kala chana / black chickpea curry
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You will love this Punjabi Kala Chana curry

Punjabi Kala Chana are a family favorite. They have a different flavor compared to chickpeas, more robust and intense, and have more of a bite to them. They’re found in spicy and tart chaats, dry roasted and packed into newspaper packs on the streets of Pakistan, and in robust curries, like the one made in my home. They create a gorgeous masala with just onions, no tomatoes or yogurt in sight. They are naturally gluten free, vegan and rich in nutrients. I love them served over delicious long grain basmati steamed to perfection, but you won’t find me refusing to eat them with naan either.

The ingredients are simple, they just require some time

One thing to keep in mind with these is that they take a very long time to cook compared to Chana Masala. I make these often, so I spend a couple of hours boiling a large batch. Then I freeze the kala chana in packets so they’re ready to be cooked. The trick is to soak them overnight, then use a pressure cooker for a quick fix. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can definitely make these stove top, it just takes longer. But it’s not labor intensive. You just let them come to a boil , then simmer them till they’re tender, about 45 minutes depending on your batch.

You only need a handful of ingredients for Punjabi kala chana

This recipe is so simple, when I first learned how to make it I thought I lost half the ingredient list. The masala is made up of onions. That’s it. The black chickpeas are cooked in water, and the oil is added at the end. It’s a different process, but it works. And I don’t see it turning out good by using classic curry methods. the takeaway from this is that you should always have a natch of cooked kala chana is your freezer so you’re not far from delicious Punjabi Kala Chana.

punjabi kala chana / black chickpea curry

Punjabi Kala Chana

Classic Punjabi kala chana is a gluten free and vegan curry that will become a family favorite! Serve over steamed basmati with some sliced onions.
Servings 4


  • Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker


  • 1.5 cups kala chana soaked overnight
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp laal mirch chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed coriander


Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot

  • Add your soaked and drained black chickpeas to your pressure cooker along with the water, ginger garlic pastes, salt, chili powder and turmeric. Cook on the pressure setting for 35 minutes. Release the steam carefully, then cook the Chanay, stirring often, until most of the water dries up.
  • At this point add the oil and cook, stirring, till the onions break down. Add 2 cups boiling water and the crushed coriander seeds and simmer for about ten minutes, till everything combines nicely and the oil separates. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander along with white rice or naan.


  • In a large pot add approximately 1.5 cups of the black chickpeas along with 4 cups of water. Add the chopped onion, ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the flame and simmer for about 40-45 minutes. Check to see if the chickpeas are cooked through, if not cook for longer.
  • Once the kala chana are cooked thorugh, cook on high till most of the water evaporates, stirring occasionally. Then add the oil and cook on a medium flame, stirring often, until the onions break down and the oil separates. Check for salt, then add 2 cups of boiling water and the ground coriander. Simmer for about ten minutes, then sprinkle with fresh coriander. Serve with white rice or naan.


Some batches of kala chana take very long to cook. It’s happened Tom before, and I thought I was cooking them wrong, but just stay the coarse and increase the cooking time. 
If you make these often, I highly recommend boiling these in bulk and freezing in packets. 

Have you tried this recipe?

I love hearing your feedback! If you tried this recipe I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comments below.

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