A New Lease of Life: Black Chana Sundal

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My mother is visiting for the summer.And that of course, translates to the three Cs that come with parental visits – cooking, conversation and childcare.
In my house, it also means that half-finished items languishing dismally in my pantry, (presumably after being purchased because they were required in miniscule quantities for an obscure recipe), are given a second chance.

Mum: What’s in that jar?

Me: Don’t know. Haven’t opened it in some time.

Mum (opens jar, with an expression Ali Baba would have had when he shouted Open Sesame!): Black chana!

Me: Really?

Mum:inspects contents of said jar suspiciously):How old is this?

Me: Pretty old.

Mum: Did we buy this during my last visit…?

The lonely cup of black chickpeas or chana- transmogrified into a nutritious, simple snack. Perfect when you feel peckish early in the evening like I do.
Black Chana Sundal

1 cup black chana (black chickpeas)
2 tbsp oil
2 dried whole red chillies
3 fresh green chillies
6 curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 pinch asafoetida powder
4 tbsp coconut gratings
Salt to taste

Submerge the black chana in 2 cups water and soak for at least 8 hours. You can dunk these babies either before you go to bed (if you want to make it for lunch) or first thing in the morning for a dinner dish.

Drain and replace with fresh water enough to submerge fully, add salt and cook. I use a pressure cooker and cook it in 20 minutes flat. Once cooked, transfer to a stove-top dish, water and all, and bring to a slow boil.

If you are using dry coconut gratings, now would be a good time to soak it in 4 tbsp water. If using frozen, just thaw and bring to room temperature.

In a small saucepan or a seasoning spoon, heat the oil. Add mustard seeds, red and green chillies. When the mustard starts to crackle, toss in the curry leaves and the asafoetida. Give it a swirl and empty all of this over the chana.

Continue boiling for a few minutes until all the liquid evaporates. Add more salt if needed, and garnish with coconut gratings before serving.

Serves 4.


  1. Madum,

    I have 2 queshions

    1. How many "whistles" in the pressure cooker?
    2. How does one thaw frozen coconut?


  2. Anon:

    I pressure cook for about 20 minutes, which on medium heat translates to 3-4 whistles. To thaw 4 tbsp frozen coconut, add 4 tbsp water and microwave for 30 seconds. Loosen with a spoon and squeeze out or drain excess water.


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