Kadalai Kuzhambu / South Indian chickpea gravy

Kadalai Kuzhambu is a South Indian tangy, delicious and protein rich gravy. When paired with rice, it is a wholesome meal rich in nutrients. The black chana is soaked and cooked in a tamarind based gravy along with some freshly prepared spice paste and coconut. It is different from the traditional Kerala kadalai curry and the North Indian channa masala/chole. It has unique and distinct flavours since the masalas used for this gravy is quite different from the kadalai curry /channa masala. It can be served with steamed rice or as an accompaniment with apam.

Preparation time : 30 minutes


Tamarindsmall lemon size
Black chickpea (Kala channa)1/2 cup
Turmeric powder1/2 teaspoon
Hing / Asafotedia1/2 teaspoon
Coconut oil 2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds1 teaspoon
Curry leavesto garnish
Coriander leaves to garnish
Saltto taste


To roast & grind:

Urad dhal1 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander seeds1 1/2 teaspoon
Red chilli2 1/2 to 3
Peppercorn /Milagu1/2 teaspoon
Jeera1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves4 to 5
Shredded coconut4 teaspoon


  • Soak the black chana / kala chana in water overnight.
  • Next day morning, drain the water and pressure cook it for 3 whistles. The channa should be soft when pressed between fingers. Drain the water and keep it aside.
  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Extract about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of tamarind juice from this and keep it aside.
  • Roasting & Grinding – In a pan, add 1 teaspoon oil, add urad dhal, coriander seeds, peppercorns and red chilli. Keep the flame low. Roast the ingredients by stirring continuously until the urad dhal turns golden brown. Now add jeera, coconut and curry leaves. Give a gentle and quick stir and switch off the flame. Be cautious not to burn the ingredients as this may spoil the taste of the dish. For uniform roasting, always keep the flame low. Transfer the ingredients to a plate and let it cool.



  • Grind the roasted ingredients to a fine paste using little water.


  • In a pot, add the tamarind extract, salt, turmeric powder and hing. Add the freshly prepared masala paste to this and mix well. Keep this on a stove and let it cook.
  • After 5 minutes, add the all ready pressure cooked black chana (after draining the water) and mix well. Let it cook for another 6 to 8 minutes or until the gravy thickens.
  • If the gravy has runny consistency, then add rice flour paste. To make rice flour paste, take a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon of rice flour and add little bit of water to make a thick paste. Pour this rice flour paste to the gravy /kuzhambu while stirring. See that there are no lumps. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes for the gravy to thicken. Switch off the flame.
  • In a pan, add coconut oil (or ghee or any other regular oil), add mustard seeds and allow it to crackle. Add curry leaves. Add this tempering to the kuzhambu/gravy.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve with steamed rice or as a side dish for apam.



  1. This is a tangy gravy and the sour taste of the tamarind should be well balanced by red chillies peppercorns and coconut. The intensity of the sour taste sour from tamarind might vary from different brands and hence adjust the number of red chillies used according to your preference.

Check out my other Kuzhambu varieties:

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