Kadala Masala Curry, a Childhood Favourite

12 Oct

Kadala  is a Malayalam word  that translates to Chickpeas ( Black or White)  happens to be one of my favourite pulses. Growing up I have had a fair share of these in curries and in their sautéed form. The way my mother made Kadala curry was to cook it in a paste of coriander seeds, red chillies, onion and grated coconut. That something so simple could taste so wonderful, always surprised me.

On the way back from school, my mind conjured these beautiful images of what all my mother would have made for lunch. That anticipation always made me race back home with a heavy school bag in tow. My mother was a banker so she wasn’t around to serve it to me piping hot. But that was hardly a bother as I was pretty much adept at doing most of the stuff myself ( also, I shouldn’t forget to mention that I had a caretaker until I was 14 years old and my brother had his).  All the cooking was done by my Mother  as a matter of principle and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyday, she would prepare a spread of two curries ( pulses), a vegetable, a raita or a salad, pappads, rice and rotis. She had to be at the her workplace by 10 a.m and before that she made a sumptuous breakfast, send us off to school with our tiffins and prepared such a large spread for lunch. Every single day.

We were so demanding, I realize now. Not giving her any respite and asking for something or the other. She happily obliged not caring if she was tired after a long day’s work.  We took it for granted and she did what she had to without complaining and with great joy. That joy translated into the food  that she made and calling it tasty would be an understatement.

Only after all these years, now that I have a child of my own, I realize, how she had to put up with her ever hungry, demanding kids. This post is an ode to all that she has done for me  and my brother for years and years. I know it wouldn’t measure up to it but something to say – “Thanks, Amma!”

Recipe for Kadala Masala Curry


1 cup of black or white chick peas ( soaked over night and boiled)

1 medium-sized onion , chopped

2 dried red chillies ( you can up the heat by added as many as 8 red chillies too)

1 cup fresh grated coconut

3 tablespoons of coriander seeds

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

For tempering


1-2 tsp of mustard seeds

more dried red chillies (optional)

1 small chopped onion

small handful of curry leaves


1. Boil the Chickpeas with some salt and turmeric and keep aside

2. Meanwhile prepare for the gravy by roasting grated coconut first and keep aside

3. Next roast, coriander seeds with dried red chillies

4. finally roast the chopped onion until golden brown.

5. Once all of the above roasted ingredients have cooled, grind them into a paste with some water. Do not grind it ultra smooth. It needs to be of a coarser consistency.

6. Pour this gravy into a pan / kadhaai and cook until the raw smell has gone and nice aroma spreads.Do this under a closed lid as it would be faster and to avoid all the gravy splashing about.  This would take some time and you would notice that the colour has changed too and is darker brown in colour.

7. To this add, the boiled chick peas and cook for sometime under a closed lid.

8. Once you feel that all of it has come together, ready the tempering in a different pan by heat oil and mustard seeds until they splutter. To this add the curry leaves and chopped onions and wait till the onions are done well. Pour this tempering into the curry.

9. Serve hot with rice.

If you find it too spicy you could lower the number of red chillies and even use yogurt while you dig in ( that’s my favourite way to eat – hot rice, curry and yogurt). The rice in the photographs is the fluffy red rice that we usually eat in Kerala. I also feel, the gravy would suit all kinds of meat such as chicken and mutton. It is finger licking good, trust me!

I am sending this off to Anamika’s Herbs & Flowers  event originally hosted by Seduce your tastebuds.

28 Responses to “Kadala Masala Curry, a Childhood Favourite”

  1. Gayathri October 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Mums are special, Anu..We can never thank them enough….Never tried including coconut in chole…will have to try it soon….

    • Anita Menon October 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      Absolutely true, Gayathri. Let me know how it turned out

  2. Bikram October 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    yes .. Mother’s are god..

    I am cut pasting what i wrote at another article on mothers..

    Mavaan thandiyaan Chavaan
    Chavaan kaun kare
    Mavaan de harjaane loko kaun bhare
    Mavaan thandiyaan chavaan
    Chavaan Kaun kare.

    Put kaput bane par maa rehendi Ma banke
    Sukhan Sukhdi khairaan mangdi fer fer ke Manke
    Put mere ton Tattiyaan vavaan Rehan pare ..

    Mavaan thandiyana chavaan .. chavaan kaun kare


    and the recipe WOWOW This i need to make for sure 🙂

    • Anita Menon October 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      wow, but I quite did’nt get the meaning of those words. Maybe some other day, you can explain it to be me Bikram.

  3. Sona October 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Kadala is my all time fav food! I can never be bored with it.I love it so much that i would use the left over kadala curry n mix it with some chopped onions n lemon juice n have it like a chaat 😉 your curry looks so yummy!! I am so hungry now after reading ur post n seeing those wonderful pics.I might invite myself in to your place 4 lunch today ;P

    • Anita Menon October 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      Sona- you gotto come over really. It’s high time. Kadala seems to be just one of the many things we have in common, I feel.

  4. Meghna October 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Now thats a variation I could try….something simple!!!! and I m so sure it tastes yummmm…..

  5. Divya October 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Never tried kadala curry before – seems like I’m missing out! Looks tempting.

  6. Ameena October 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    I would definitely have to lower the chilis! But aside from that this dish looks fabulous – and since I LOVE chick peas I think I’d like to try this!

    I love your story about your mom. I too make Maya’s lunch every single day…wouldn’t dream of letting anyone else do it!

    • Anita Menon October 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks lovely Ameena, I hope to do the same for my daughter too!

  7. Buls October 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I just had dinner… and am already hungry… yum

  8. yummychunklet October 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    I love the memories this dish holds for you. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  9. La @ FoodSlice October 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    All this writing about food makes me too realise how much mom did for us.. And still wants to help.. I ‘ve only sauteed chickpeas till now, i gotta try this curry.. looks too yum to be ignored.

  10. Lisa H October 13, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    I love chickpeas… and your kadala is gorgeous 😀

  11. Cassandra @foodmyfriend October 13, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    This is what I order when I have Indian 🙂 Seriously delicious. I actually think when I make it at home that it is better the next day when the flavours have had time to form within the chickpeas.

  12. Plateful October 13, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Your mom’s adorable Anita. It’s a shame that we kids realize a lot of things pretty much late in life but I guess that’s why we are called ‘kids’ 🙂 Varutharacha kadala curry is my favorite to go with puttu or even chappathi. That last picture is really tempting! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. xx

  13. Rosa May (@RosasYummyYums) October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    That dish looks marvelous! What a gorgeous combination of flavors. I really love chickpeas.



  14. Nikhil Merchant October 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Oh YUm !
    Just when I was wondering what to do with my leftover Chick Peas…
    Going to make this right now 🙂

  15. Priya Sreeram October 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    tht’s a very sweet ode to ur mom ! loved the poignant read and the kadala curry looks yum !

  16. a spoonful of yumm October 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    yummy ! we make this often during festivals & poojas…i love the coconut part 😀

  17. Hotly Spiced October 14, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    How lovely of you to pay tribute to your mother and it sounds like your words are very well deserved too. It is a shame that most of us never really stop to reflect on how wonderful our mothers are until we have children of our own!

  18. seejarajan October 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    thank you for sharing the recipe

  19. Marie October 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Mouth watering photos. Yes, I have to hand it to my mom as well, she too cooked for demanding children (all 9 of us) and did it lovingly. I learned so much for her about food, mom’s are the best.

  20. bhavnai/ameanderingmango October 16, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    Another delicious looking dish! Your mother sounds like she gave so much to her children – mine was the same – mothers are simply wonderful. Thanks for reminding us : )

  21. kankana October 16, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I cook chickpea very often and this would be a fantastic recipe to try.
    Enjoyed reading your post .. the way you shared all those emotions is beautiful. I used to trouble my mom a lot and you story brought back few of those memories 🙂

  22. Annapet October 16, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I love garbanzo beans and your recipe sounds so good. Oh, and fresh coconut, I haven’t cooked with one in years. My Latin grocer has coconuts, fortunately!

    What a mom!

  23. Jim October 17, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    You are so lucky to be raised on foods like this… We had hotdogs and casseroles.

  24. When Harry Met Celery November 19, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    What a lovely post!

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