Kadalai Kuzhambu / South Indian Kala Channa 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 pressure cooked black channa /kala channa is cooked in a tamarind based gravy along with some freshly prepared spice paste and coconut. This kuzhambu / gravy 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 Appam.

Serving: 3


Tamarindsmall gooseberry size
Black chickpeas / Kala channa1/2 cup
Turmeric powder1 teaspoon
Hing / Asafotedia1/2 teaspoon
Saltto taste
Coriander leavesto garnish

To roast & grind:

Oil1 teaspoon
Urad dhal1 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander seeds / dhania1 1/2 teaspoon
Red chilli3 to 3 1/2
Peppercorns / whole black pepper1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds / Jeera1/2 teaspoon
Shredded coconut3 teaspoon
Curry leaves4 to 5

For tempering:

Ghee or Coconut oil1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds1 teaspoon
Curry leaves4 to 5


  • Soak the black chickpeas / kala channa overnight in water for about 8 hours. After it is soaked, drain the water, add fresh water to the chickpeas and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Drain the water and keep it aside.
  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 15 minutes. Extract about 2 1/2 cups of tamarind juice from this.
  • For the masala paste – In a kadai /pan, add 1 teaspoon of oil. Keep the heat to low setting. When the oil is warm enough, add 1 1/2 teaspoon urad dhal, 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds , 1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper and sauté for few seconds. When the urad dhal starts to change colour, add the red chillies and cumin seeds and sauté for 20 seconds. Now add 3 teaspoons of shredded coconut and curry leaves. Sauté for 10 seconds and switch off the flame. Transfer the contents to a plate and allow it to cool. Grind this to a fine thick paste using water.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot or pan, add the already prepared tamarind extract. Add salt, turmeric powder and hing. Add the ground masala paste and the pressure cooked black chickpeas, allow it to boil for sometime. Taste and check for salt. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the gravy thickens to a kuzhambu consistency.
  • If the kuzhambu is still watery, add rice flour paste. To prepare rice flour paste, take a small bowl, add 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon rice flour, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water and mix well to make a thick paste. Add this rice flour paste to the kuzhambu and cook for another minute.
  • Tempering – Take a small pan, add 1 teaspoon oil or ghee, add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add curry leaves. Add this tempering / tadka to the kuzhambu / gravy.
  • Serve this kadalai kuzhambu with steamed rice and a dash of ghee.


  • Adjust the number of red chillies according to you preference for spice level.
  • The tempering can be done using ghee or regular oil or coconut oil. But using ghee or coconut oil for tempering this kuzhambu will make it more flavourful.

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