Kala Chana – Bengal gram


What is kala chana or desi chana ?

Forms of chickpeas

How to store black chickpeas

How does black chickpeas taste ?

Chana dal

Besan/ Gram flour

Health benefits of chana

How to cook desi chana/ black chickpeas?

Where to buy black chana ?

10 tested recipes using kala chana / black chickpea

10 tested recipes using Besan/ gram flour

10 tested recipes using roasted gram

What is Kala Chana or Desi Chana / Chickpea.

Chickpeas are a pulse that grows on a plant with 20 to 50 cm in height. They are one of the ancient crops that where used since 10000 BC. It was grown initially in Middle East Egypt, Rome and Greece during 7500 BC. They were later brought during the 16th century by the Spanish explorers, and since then chickpeas got the name Garbanja beans. While the traditional name Chickpea is derived from French word chiche and cicer, In India it is called Chole and Kala chana. These chickpeas come in black and white colours in India and are a part of Indian households as an important source of protein. Though the white variant of chickpea travelled to India from the middle eat, India has now become the largest producer of Chickpeas in the world at 67%.

The black chickpea also know as Kala chana can be in black, green or speckled form. They are grown mostly in India, Mexico and Iran. This variety is hulled and split to make Chana dal. The legume is re-hydrated and cooked and many flavours added to it to make a high protein dish.

The black chickpeas is also called as Karuppur kadalai in Tamil , Senagalu in Telugu, Kala Chana in Hindi.

Forms of Black chickpeas ?

The black chickpeas is available in black, green or speckled form.

The green form of it is a rare sight to catch in cities now. It is available in the market for just a few days immediately after the harvest. Here is my find in the month of January at Jayanagar market. They sell it with the uprooted plant and the pulse attached to it in its socket. The small bulbs are separated from the plant and inside each is hidden a fresh green chickpea. For a tad more than the price I got a bag of cleaned, hulled green chickpeas to use in my kitchen immediately.

It was a fun activity in my childhood to pop out the pulse from each of these soft green bulbs.

The green chick peas is the fresh form of the pulse. It is faster to cook and use in curries and salads. But as the longevity of the pulse is low in its fresh form, mostly it is sold in its dry form ( brown/ black) all through the year. The dried black chickpeas is rehydrated for 10-12 hours before being cooked. Soaking it in water for longer time drastically reduces the cooking time of the pulse and gives the same amount of nutrients.

The black chipeas are hulled and split to make the Bengal gram. Another interesting form of the black chikpeas is the roasted form .

Here is a picture of a roasting klin. The dried chickpea is roasted in sand in quick iterations to open the outer husk and mildly pop the inside pulse. This form of the black chickpea is very widely in use in many cuisines as it is very easy to powder, roast or grind. No soaking is required. This is a very healthy snack and helps in weight-loss too. A common way to consume the roasted chickpea with the cover is to salt it and have a hand full with a small piece of jaggery.

The dried and roasted cover of the chick peas when removed makes the roasted gram. The salted healthiest high protein snack you can have any time of the day.

How to store black Chickpeas for longer shelf life ?

Store in a straight container and use up the pulses in 2-3 months to get the best flavour. I prefer a glass/ see through bottle as a container as I can see the ingredients and use them up if I see a change in their colour or texture.

How does Black chickpeas taste ?

The fresh green form of this chick pea tastes like eating raw corn kernels, without the juicyness. It is found only during the harvest season in local markets. The dried form of it is not edible till it is soaked. Some use it in its raw hydrated form in salads in small quantities after germination. Makes a very nutty healthy cruncky salad. The hulled split form of the black chick pea is soaked and can be consumed raw in salads. it is softer on the gums and bland. The easiest and mostly found form of this pulse is to eat it after it is well cooked.

Other forms of Black chickpeas.

1. Chana dal – Split and polished black chickpea

A very common form of the legume, it is used in making salads, soups, dals, sweets, curry and many more. High in protein, and easier to digest than the black chickpea it is a part of almost every cuisine in some form of other. Here are 10 best recipes using Chana dal.

2. Gram flour – Besan – Black chickpea flour

Black chickpea when powdered gives Besan flour also called as Gram flour. It is different from white chickpea flour also called as Garbanzo flour. Though they look very similar, they differ from each other in their texture as well as the recipes in which they can be used. Substituting one for the other WILL NOT give similar results. Gram flour is more commonly used in India for variety of recipes. Here are 10 best recipes using gram flour.

Health benefits of desi chana?

  • High in fibre, adding it to your meal helps in reducing weight.
  • The high dietary fibre in desi chana/ black chickpeas also helps in reduces LDL cholesterol and hence the overall total cholesterol
  • Black chickpeas contain considerable amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the homocysteine levels thus minimising the risk of narrowing of arteries by plaque formation, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
  • It is a great source of iron
  • A good source of protein for vegetarians
  • the carbs of the black chick peas digest slowly thus maintaining blood sugar levels.
  • The besan which is a powdered form of the black chickpeas is great as a facial.

Ways to cook desi chana or black chickpeas.

The black chana or desi chana is best cooked after soaking it for a 5 hours or more. The legumes hydrate and get ready to sprout and that is the best time to cook it, bringing out the best of its nutrients and a well cooked tasty dish.

I cook it in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes with salt and turmeric. Adding salt while cooking induces the salt into the grain/legume uniformly rather than adding it later. This can be cooked in a stovetop with water, but might take 50 minutes or more to reach the well cooked stage.

Where to buy black chickpeas or desi chana ?

I buy them from organic stores or farms I know of which use natural farming methods. Jeevabhoomi is one of the.


10 tested recipes using kala chana / black chickpea

Kerala kadala curry

Chana handi biriyani

Kala chana kabab

Black chickpea salad

Jaisalmeri Kala Chana in yogurt gravy

Black chana hummas

Black chana falafal

10 Best recipies using Bengal gram flour

Pottukadala murukku



Tunisian chickpea cookies

kaman dokla


Hurikadale molaga podi

Onion Pakoda


Chickpea flat bread

Besan ki roti

Chila dosa

10 tested recipes using Bengal gram

Dal fry

Masala Vada

Kadala paruppu Payasam

Kadala paruppu Kuzambu

Kadala paruppu Salad

Chana dal fry

10 tested recipes using roasted gram


Roasted gram chutney

Poha roasted gram mixture

Chutney podi Karnataka style


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