Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu| Chettinad Style Chickpeas In Tamarind Gravy

Chickpeas, aka chana or garbanzo beans, are one of my most favourite types of legumes. I love that they are so versatile, blending seamlessly into salads, North Indian sabzis like Chana Masala, chaats, tikkis, soups, South Indian gravies and Middle Eastern hummus and falafel alike. I especially love the big white ones that are commonly called Kabuli Chana (‘Kondakadalai‘ in Tamil). Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for a beautiful dish from Chettinad that is made using these white chickpeas – Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu.

Understanding the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu better

Like I was saying earlier, this dish hails from Chettinad in Tamilnadu, a place famous for its fiery foods that typically use a number of spices. While Chettinad is best known for its indigenous non-vegetarian preparations, it also has several traditional vegetarian delicacies to offer, which are a delight to the tastebuds. This Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is one such delicacy, tangy and spicy and a bit sweet all at once. It makes for a brilliant accompaniment to piping hot rice, especially when drizzled with some sesame oil aka nalla ennai. It also goes well with rotis, upma, dosas and the like.

This dish is made using big white chickpeas, which are cooked first, then allowed to simmer in a tamarind broth which, in true Chettinad style, has been flavoured using a blend of spices. Don’t be intimated by the long laundry list of ingredients this entails – all of them are fairly common in an Indian kitchen, and the recipe is in actuality quite simple. The end result, I can assure you, is totally worth the effort you might have to put in to get together all the ingredients.

#ChanaTime at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe for Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme each Monday. The theme this week is #ChanaTime, wherein the members are showcasing dishes made using different types of the very nutritious chickpeas.

It was Mayuri ji, the talented author of Mayuri’s Jikoni, who suggested the theme this week. She already has a few very interesting chickpea recipes on her blog, such as this Mombasa Mix and this Kala Chana Pulav. In case you happen to be looking for more recipes that use chickpeas, do check out the Jaisalmeri Kala Chana and Gujarati Raswala Kala Chana Nu Shaak on my blog.

How I learnt to make Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu

There’s an interesting story behind how I came to learn this gem of a recipe. I first tasted Chettinad-style Kara Kozhambu at Krishna Kafe – a Bangalore eatery that I am very, very fond of – and fell head over heels in love with it. This was years ago, after which I tried replicating the dish at home several times but with no success. Then, in 2017, we visited Madurai, which is a hop, skip and jump away from Chettinad. We booked into a homestay in Madurai, where I had the pleasure of sampling some of Chettinad’s vegetarian cuisine. On one such day, we were served this Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu, which was EXACTLY like the Krishna Kafe Kara Kozhambu I so loved! Courtesy of the homestay staff, I managed to get the recipe, which I have made many times over at home now. It remains a hit in our family.

Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu recipe

Without further ado, here’s presenting to you the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To grind:

  1. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (sombu)
  2. 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (gasagasa)
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

Other ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup white chickpeas (kabuli chana aka kondakadalai)
  2. 1 tablespoon sesame oil (nalla ennai)
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (kadugu)
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeeragam)
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida (perungayam)
  6. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  7. A pinch of fenugreek seeds (vendhayam)
  8. 7-8 cloves of garlic
  9. 1 big onion
  10. A lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  11. 1 medium-sized tomato
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 2 cups water
  15. 3/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  16. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  17. 1 teaspoon roasted coriander (dhania) powder
  18. 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  19. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander


Left top and bottom: Steps 1 and 2, Right top and bottom: Steps 3 and 4

1. Soak the chickpeas in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Transfer the soaked and drained chickpeas to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover them fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5 whistles or till the chickpeas are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
3. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, for at least 15 minutes.

4. When the tamarind has cooled down enough to handle, extract all the juice from it. Add in fresh water, little by little, to help with the extraction. I got about 1 cup of thin tamarind extract.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom left: The coconut paste, ground and ready, Bottom right: Step 7

5. In the meantime, chop the onion, coriander and tomato finely. Peel the garlic cloves. Keep these ready, along with the curry leaves.

6. Take the coconut, fennel seeds and poppy seeds in a small mixer jar. Grind together to a smooth paste, using a little water.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked chickpeas out.

Top left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Above leftmost bottom: Step 10, Leftmost bottom and bottom right: Step 11

8. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter. Now, add in the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Let these ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

9. Add in the garlic cloves. Saute for half a minute.

10. Add the onion to the pan. Saute on medium flame till the onion gets brown.

11. Add in the chopped tomato, along with the turmeric, a little salt and some water. Cook on medium flame for a minute.

Top left and above leftmost bottom: Steps 12 and 13, Leftmost bottom: Step 14, Bottom right: Step 15, Top right: Step 16

12. Add the tamarind extract to the pan, along with salt to taste and the cooked chickpeas. Also add in the water the chickpeas were cooked in. Mix well.

13. Cook everything together for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

14. Now, add in about 2 more cups of water or as needed to adjust the consistency. Add in the jaggery powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and sambar powder. Mix well.

15. Add in the coconut paste we ground earlier. Mix well.

16. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 more minutes, for the mixture to thicken and for the raw smell of the spice powders to go away. Switch off gas at this stage.

Top: The Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is almost ready, Bottom: Step 17

17. Mix in finely chopped coriander. The Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is ready. Serve hot with steamed rice, drizzled with sesame oil.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used home-made sambar powder here. You can use a store-bought version, instead, too.

2. This Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is made using white chickpeas, which are commonly called kabuli chana. Black-eyed peas (aka cowpeas, lobia or karamani) or black chickpeas (aka karuppu kondakadalai or kotthukadalai) can be used instead too.

3. Sesame oil aka nalla ennai works best in the making of this dish. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other variety of oil you prefer.

4. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery powder, sambar powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder as per personal taste preferences.

5. Instead of poppy seeds, a few cashewnuts can be used to thicken the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu. A slurry made using rice flour and a little water can be used instead, too.

6. Upto 1/2 cup of coconut can be used in this dish. I prefer using just about 2 tablespoons of coconut only.

7. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu you require. I prefer keeping it just slightly thick, quite runny in consistency.

8. The garlic cloves are, traditionally, kept whole in this recipe, and I have done the same. However, if you so prefer, you may chop them up roughly or crush them using a mortar and pestle.

9. You may drizzle some sesame oil over the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu, once it is cooked and ready. This adds a whole lot of flavour to it. We usually skip this, instead drizzling the oil over the rice in our plates, while eating.

10. Some cinnamon and cloves can be added to the tempering too. I prefer leaving out these ingredients.

11. Here is how I make the roasted coriander powder – I dry roast some coriander seeds (dhania) in a pan till fragrant, then allow them to cool down and grind to a powder. I usually make a small batch of this, store in an air-tight bottle, and use as needed. If you don’t have roasted coriander powder ready, you can add about a 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds to the coconut, while grinding.

12. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. If you want to make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!


34 thoughts on “Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu| Chettinad Style Chickpeas In Tamarind Gravy

  1. Simply love the use of chickpeas in our south indian cuisine . This recipe looks too yummy to resist. My hubby will surely love these flavors of masala . I do make kondakadalai vethakuzhambu which is my favorite .


  2. The Chettinad style Kara Kozhambu looks so delicious Priya ! The use of ground paste of coconut, fennel seeds and poppy seeds sounds interesting and I guess this paste brings out the typical taste to the curry. Adding tamarind pulp in chickpea curry is also new to me. Would love giving this recipe a try as we are a big chana fans.


  3. I generally would not have associated kabuli chana with South Indian Cuisine but it seems that it is used if not often enough. Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu sounds like a very flavorful dish with little coconut and flavor from fennel…I feel I can smell it.


    1. @mayurisjikoni

      You’d be surprised at just how much black chana and kabuli chana are used in South Indian cuisine! πŸ™‚ This is just one example.

      Yes, it’s a very flavourful dish. Do try it out some time. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Never tried chickpeas in fresh coconut masala.. I do use tamarind in chickpeas curry but your version sounds so flavorful with all the spices used here.. sounds like I should definitely give this curry a try .


  5. Looks absolutely delicious Priya. I dread chettinad cuisine as the list of ingredients is long. Today because you said it common in Indian pantry I checked it. Thanks i have boiled chana. Will make it the girls will love it.


    1. @themadscientistskitchen

      You should totally try this out. Though the list of ingredients is long, they’re all commonly available in an Indian kitchen. The proceedure isn’t too tough either.


  6. Loved this different type of chickpea curry. Looks super tempting. I also love to add coconut in chickpeas. But this curry is something different. Saving the recipe to try soon. Sambhar masala tamarind poppy and fennel seeds wow I can imagine the taste.


  7. chickpea curry in tamarind gravy looks very tasty Priya. Loved the way you used sesame oil to prepare this kozhambu. Coconut paste preapred by adding fennel & poppy seeds is very intresting, bookmarking try soon.


  8. woow, chickpea in tamarind gravy and i like the version of rice you mentioned drizzled with sesame oil…must be very different flavor. never tried this…actually mouthwatering.


  9. Wow. kondakadalai curry looks so delicious and I exactly prepare the same way. My hubby loves this gravy. I never know this is chettinadu way of preparing the curry. Thanks for sharing


  10. WOW !!! chickpea in tamarind gravy sounds superb priya πŸ™‚
    It must have a very different flavor, will try this version sometime. Looks really so mouthwatering !


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