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Sukha Kala Chana - Black chickpeas in a thick spiced onion-tomato sauce

My recipe for Sukha Kala Chana is a super simple and delicious dish that tastes fantastic with the right amount and combination of spices. In Hindi it is known as Sukha Kala Chana. Here sukha means "dry". This recipe for Sukha Kala Chana (black chickpeas) is a delicious dish that will impress the whole family even on the busiest weekdays.

If you have a can of black chickpeas in your pantry, everything is super quick to prepare. Under 10 minutes, this delicious Sukha Kala Chana is on the table and ready for a no-fuss dinner. This recipe for Sukha Kala Chana is cooked in tomato and onion masala and then enhanced with Indian spices. Most of the flavor comes from the spices, as they are boiled as a powder with boiled chickpea water. This creates a thick sauce that coats the chickpeas and makes this dish very appetizing.

What is Kala Chana?

In Hindi, Kala means "black" and Chana means "chickpeas," so Kala Chana means "black chickpeas." While this name is a bit misleading, the chickpea skin is actually brown or reddish brown and not black, the name refers to a specific variety of chickpea used in this dish.

Kala Chana, also known as Indian Black Chickpea, Bengal Gram or Desi Chana, is a variety native to the Indian subcontinent (Desi means "native" or "country") and has a harder skin and darker appearance than other light-skinned Garbanzo chickpeas you're probably familiar with.

These are not only a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, but also rich in fiber and protein. Kala Chana is loved by Indians all over the world. Since it is considered a healthy food, it is a part of our everyday diet.

Due to its high fiber content, black chickpeas need to be cooked thoroughly. The Ayurvedic tradition of using spices such as ginger, cumin and asafetida aids digestion and makes it more digestible.

Sukha Kala Chana is an easy way to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet. If you are a curry lover, this delicious dish with deep flavor is just right. It's healthy and a great meal any time of year.

While traditionally we always use dried chana (chickpeas) to make curries (which requires soaking them overnight), I usually opt for canned chickpeas since I'm usually short on time 😉 .

Other ingredients for Sukha Kala Chana:

Mustard oil: mustard oil adds a nutty and nice flavor to the dish. If you don't have mustard oil on hand, you can use any vegetable oil to make this protein-rich curry.

Spices: The spices added are the usual Indian ground spices like red Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and Garam Masala. Most of these ground Indian spices are available in supermarkets, Asian stores and even online. For the Garam Masala, I always use homemade garam masala in all my recipes.

Onions & Tomatoes: Onions as well as tomatoes are added in many Indian dishes. For onions, you can use red onions, vegetable onions or white onions. Use ripe red tomatoes as they are not too tart.


Is Kala Chana the same as white chickpeas?

Basically, there are only a few types of chickpeas. Kala Chana or Desi Chana is a smaller chickpea with a brown skin, while white chickpeas (Kabuli Chana) are larger and have a creamy white skin. There are also chickpea varieties with green shells (Hara Chana) and dark black shells (a locally rare variety).

Can I prepare Kala Chana in advance?

Of course. This black chickpea dish keeps well for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.

How do you cook Kala Chana in a pressure cooker?

Wash the chickpeas and soak them overnight, then add the soaked chana (chickpeas) to the pressure cooker.

Now add water, the water should be 2.5 to 3 cm above the chana (chickpeas), then close the lid and cook at high pressure for 20-25 minutes. Then remove from heat and let the steam escape completely naturally.

Note: Check if the Kala Chana (black chickpeas) are cooked by pressing on them with a finger. If the chana (chickpeas) are not cooked, repeat the cooking process again.

How to cook Kala Chana (black chickpeas) without pressure cooker?

In a deep pot with a heavy bottom, add soaked Kala Chana (black chickpeas) and water, the water should be about 2.5 to 3 inches above the chana (chickpeas).

Cover the pot and place on high heat until the water begins to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer covered for 30-35 minutes.

Can you cook chana without soaking it overnight?

Don't worry, here I introduce you to my grandma Flora's trick 😛. Soak the washed chana (black chickpeas) in hot water and add a small pinch of baking soda and let it soak for about 30-40 minutes.

For 1 cup of chana (black chickpeas) -> add 1 pinch of baking soda,

2 cups of chana -> 2 pinches of soda, etc.

After about 30-40 minutes, cook the soaked chana with the same water in a pressure cooker.

Serving suggestions

Serve Sukha Kala Chana hot with Indian bread such as Chapatis,Lachha Paratha or poori. Or combine it with soft rolls for a quick dinner solution.

Steamed Basmati Rice or Jeera Reis is a delicious option to serve with Sukha Kala Chana.

Storage suggestions

Leftover Sukha Kala Chana keeps well for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. Heat the dish in a pan before serving and then serve with a side dish of your choice.


  • 500g cooked Kala Chana

  • 1/2 cup chana water (from boiling the Kala Chana) or the chana water from the can

  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped finely

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped finely

  • 2 green chillies, chopped finely

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ½ tsp. red Kashmiri chili powder

  • ½ tsp haldi powder (turmeric powder)

  • ½ tsp dhaniya powder (coriander powder)

  • ½ tsp amchur powder (dry mango powder)

  • ¼ tsp Garam Masala


Heat mustard oil in a kadhai (wok) or deep bottom pan over medium heat.Add chopped onion and finely chopped green chili and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion turns golden brown.

When the onion turns golden brown, add the chopped tomatoes and mix everything well.

Then add salt, red Kashmiri chili powder,turmeric powder, coriander powder and dry mango powder and mix well with the onion-tomato mixture.

Cover the kadhai or pot and continue to fry everything on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes soften and you see oil being released from the sides of the masala. Continue cooking everything until the oil separates and the tomatoes are soft.

Now add cooked Kala Chana and chana water, bring to boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 5 -7 minutes until water is dried and everything is well mixed.

Then add Garam Masala and chopped coriander leaves and mix well.

Serve theKala Chana hot with Chappati, Lachha Paratha oder Basmati Rice.


  • Soaking is important: Black chickpeas have a harder skin compared to other legumes. Most of this is the fiber content, which can easily cause bloating if not soaked properly. This not only cuts down on cooking time, but also improves their flavor and texture.

  • To save time, you can cook the Kala Chana at night and store it in an airtight container with its water (the water in which the Kala Chana is cooked) and use it in the morning.

  • Pouring ½ tsp of ghee over the hot Sukha Kala Chana before serving not only helps to enhance the aroma and flavor of the dish, but ghee also aids digestion.

I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.

Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).



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