Mamta's Kitchen

Black Bengal Gram Curry

Kala Chana - Rasedar

Mamta Gupta


Bengal gram is also known as black chick-pea, black gram, yellow gram or brown gram. This is the gram from which chana dal and besan (chickpea flour) are made. Bengal gram is very rich in proteins. In India, when the bridegroom leaves his home, on his way to the brides house where the wedding ceremony takes place, he rides a mare. Just before leaving, this mare is given a bucket full of Bengal grams, soaked overnight and mixed with some Gur or Jaggery (raw cane sugar). This is a special treat to keep the mare happy and calm. Germinated gram seeds are a good source of many vitamins and often eaten, quickly stir-fried with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime, just like Moong/mung Beans/dal. Serves 4-6


  • 200 gm. Bengal gram, washed and soaked for 2-3 hours or overnight

  • 1 litre water (more if you do not have a pressure cooker)

  • 1/6 tsp. or a large pinch of Soda-bicarbonate

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 black cardamoms

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. turmeric powder

  • Curry Gravy:

  • 2-3 tbsp. oil

  • 1 level tsp. cumin seeds

  • A large pinch of asafoetida (optional)

  • 2 onions, approximately 200 gm., peeled and quartered

  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled (optional)

  • 1/2-1" piece of ginger, peeled

  • 2 tsp. coriander powder

  • 1/4 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste)

  • 1 level tsp. turmeric powder

  • 2 level tsp. salt (to taste)

  • 400 gm. can of tinned tomatoes (or 200 gm. fresh tomatoes, chopped). You can also add about 2 tsp. of tomato puree to this

  • 1/4 tsp. home made Garam Masala

  • A handful of chopped coriander leaves.


  1. Wash and soak gram in water, to which soda bicarb has been added if used, for a 5-6 hours or overnight. Soda bicarb makes them cook softer, faster. alternatively, soak overnight.

  2. Place gram, water, turmeric, bay leaf, cardamom and cinnamon in a pressure cooker. Close the lid and bring to boil, until you hear hissing sound. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 20-30 minutes. Cool and check that they are soft when pressed. If not, cook for another 10 minutes.

  3. Curry Sauce

  4. Meanwhile, grind onion, ginger and garlic to a paste or chop/grate very finely.

  5. Heat oil in a pan.

  6. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder. As soon as seeds splutter, add onion, ginger, garlic paste and stir fry until nicely browned.

  7. Add coriander powder, chilli and stir for a few seconds.

  8. Now add tomatoes and salt, stir fry until oil separates from the paste.

  9. Add the boiled Bengal Gram, with the water they were boiled in . Stir and mix. Add more water if too dry.

  10. Pressure cook for 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

  11. Open pressure cooker only when cool. Add garam masala and half the coriander leaves. Turn out in a bowl, garnish with rest of coriander leaves and serve hot with Chapatties or Tandoori Roti or Boiled Rice.


  • It takes too long to cook without a pressure cooker, but you can try boiling briskly for a few hours, until soft.

  • You can make it more spicy to suit your taste.

  • You can also add a tsp. of tamarind pulp and 2 tsp. Chana Masala (chickpea spice sold in packets) for extra bite.

  • You can add chopped potatoes during the last 5 minutes of pressure cooking.

  • You can use pre-boiled tinned chickpeas in brine. Omit step 1.

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