Kala Chana masala – Sprouted Brown chickpea curry. vegan glutenfree recipe

Kala Chana masala - Sprouted Brown chickpea curry

Garbanzo beans/chickpeas/ kabuli chana is usually the favored bean/chana when making a bean masala curry. Chana masala is almost a household name now. There is an abundance of other types of Chana/beans/grams in India though and some of those never end up in the limelight.

Kala Chana/Desi chana/Kadala/Brown chickpea/Bengal gram is one of them.(lots if names). Kala literally translates to Black, but means darker here. I found brown chickpeas also at whole foods too under brown or black chickpeas. 
Kala chana/desi chickpeas are darker, nuttier with a rougher texture. It takes longer to cook, holds it shape and does not get as soft and mushy. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis/garbanzo beans and a very low glycemic index. As with garbanzos, I prefer to sprout these and make a curry. The same curry can be made with the kala chana soaked overnight as well.
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One of the star spices in this curry is Cumin/Jeera. Cumin seeds are relatively easily available because of their use in many cuisines. The nutty flavor works well in spicy chile blends and roasted smoky food preparations. Read more about the nutrition profile of Cumin and history here
Cumin seeds can be stored in an airtight container in a dry, cool and dark place for years. Roasted cumin powder however loses its aroma within months. I do buy roasted cumin powder, as we do use a lot, so the small open spice bottle does not last for more than a few weeks and it stays fresh. I prefer my home roasted cumin powder though for a stronger and fresher taste. I usually cut down on the amount called for by half when using the fresh roasted cumin powder. It is so fragrant. 
Roasted Cumin powder:
If you dont use the powdered cumin as much, then consider buying whole cumin seeds as they keep fresh for longer. Roast a few Tablespoons on a dry pan on low heat until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Cool, blend coarsely, store and use within the month. Nothing can beat some fresh roasted cumin.
Other ways to use cumin seeds, roast some cumin seeds in a little oil on medium heat, and add to Basmati rice for a cumin scented delicious side, add to cauliflower and roast(just salt, pepper and cumin in cauliflower, yum), to any daal tadka/tempering. Roasted cumin powder can be added to crunchy fresh salads with salt, pepper and lemon juice, to non dairy yogurt for raita, and to marinades and more.
Do you like cumin? and what is your fave cumin spiced dish?
Sprouted Bengal Gram curry. Kala chana masala
Gluten, soy, nut -free, vegan recipe
1-1.5 cup sprouted kala chana/brown chickpeas(1/2 cup dried kala chana, soaked and sprouted will yield a bit more than 1 cup)
2 teaspoons organic canola oil
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
1 green chili/Serrano finely chopped or chili powder to taste
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons coriander powder (sukha dhania)
½ teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
1 teaspoon garam masala or chana masala spice blend or to taste
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 medium tomatoes chopped
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
a few Tablespoons of chopped cilantro for garnish
To Sprout: Wash and soak the chickpeas in 2 cups of water overnight. Drain and rinse. You can use these soaked chickpeas to make the curry as well or proceed to sprout.
For Sprouting, sprinkle a little water on the rinsed chickpeas, cover with a damp thin kitchen towel, or damp paper towel and then keep a light lid. Drain and rinse every 6-8 hours for 1-2 days until sprouted.
For the curry: Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium high heat.
Add cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and get fragrant.  Add asafetida, onion, ginger, garlic and chili.
Cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat stirring occasionally until onions are golden.
Add turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala and mix for a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5-7 minutes until tomatoes aresaucy.
Add sprouted or soaked chickpeas, 3 cups of water, salt and cook on medium heat for 2 whistles and then on low-medium heat for another 2-3 whistles. (15-20 minutes after the pressure has reached). Let the pressure release naturally. Taste and adjust salt and spice. 
Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro with Rice or Roti flat bread.
(Alternate method: Blend the onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and spices into a smooth puree with a little water if needed.
Add to pan once the cumin seeds crackle. Add the rest of the spices and puree and cook over low heat until the puree darkens, thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. 15-18 minutes depending on the water content.
Add chickpeas and pressure cook for 4 whistles as above.
No Pressure Cooker: Add an extra cup of water and cook the sprouted chickpeas on low-medium heat, covered for 40-50 minutes.
Or add slow cooker cooked chickpeas, cook partially covered on low-medium for 20-25 minutes or until desired curry consistency.)
Sprouted chickpeas are softer and already more edible, so they can take less cooking time. You can also use slow cooker to cook the brown chickpeas and keep ready. As the brown chickpeas are hardy, they takes longer in any form to pick up the spices and flavors. Taste in between and adjust cooking time to your preference.
You can also use these chickpeas in your fave chana masala recipe. The end result will be a darker curry with nuttier chickpeas!
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  1. says

    Kala chana are so pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before, but I’ll keep an eye out the next time I’m in an international market.

    I use cumin everyday. It’s such a useful spice and covers the gamut of cuisines. I never grind my own cumin powder, but after reading your take on it, now I think I should!

    • says

      they are these really hard chickpeas and have a completely different flavor. i should grind cumin at home more often too. i just use it fairly quickly:)

  2. says

    i’ve never had black chickpeas, but they sound amazing! i really want to make this now! how would i make this if i don’t have a pressure cooker and was using cooked chickpeas?

    • says

      they are amazing:) Cook in a partially covered pan. Add the water from the cooked beans an cook for 20 odd minutes until the curry thickens and picks up the color of the chickpeas.:)

    • says

      Cook in a partially covered pan. Add the water from the cooked beans an cook for 20 odd minutes until the curry thickens and picks up the color of the chickpeas.:)

  3. says

    My husbands aunt made some Nepalese dishes for him yesterday and also used black chickpeas. I think I have never tasted them. I’ll try to find some. I love sprouting chickpeas and have never made a curry with them, so I have to try your recipe!

  4. says

    Wow! I’ve been sprouting chickpeas for a long time, and making chana masala… just never tried sprouting black chick peas (kala chana). At least not yet, but your recipe has me motivated now. Probably based on the climate and temperature I’ve always had much better luck sprouting any kinds of beans and seeds here in Germany, than when I was living in India. I’m guessing Seattle is not much trouble for sprouting?

    • says

      No problem with the sprouting. Depending on the temperature, it takes longer to sprout when cold. I usually place them in the oven in winter. Let me know when you try it!

  5. says

    Great photos, Richa! And this curry!!! I’m drooling!

    I’ve never seen kala chana before. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for it, though. And I am also a big cumin fan, use it ALL THE TIME! :-)

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