The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

Keralan-style black chickpea curry

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This recipe for Keralan-style black chickpea curry is the latest in a monthly series of recipes I have created in partnership with Suma. In each recipe, I use products from Suma’s extensive range of organic and ethically sourced products, and the recipes appear both here on my blog and on the Suma website.

Not that long ago, but back in those days when we were able to travel freely to other parts of the world, I spent an unforgettable month travelling across southern India, my trip ending up in the bountiful state of Kerala, a region which has its own distinct cuisine.

The coconut is ubiquitous in Kerala and south India, and black chickpeas also play an important part in Keralan cuisine. This dish combines these two wonderful ingredients into a delicious, hearty curry.

Black chickpeas have a slightly sweeter and nuttier flavour than regular chickpeas and are well worth tracking down, but if you are unable to source them, regular chickpeas can be used as a substitute.

Keralan-style black chickpea curry


2 x 400 g organic black chickpeas
400 g can organic chopped tomatoes
400 g can organic coconut milk
1 onion, chopped
2 red chillies, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
pinch asafoetida
250 ml vegetable stock
1 tsp sea salt
30 g coconut oil
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped


1. Blend the chilli, garlic and ginger into a paste using a pestle and mortar or food processor.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. They will quickly start to sizzle. After 30 seconds add the asafoetida followed by the chopped onion. Stir and reduce the heat to medium.

3. Once the onion is soft, add the chilli, garlic and ginger paste. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes before stirring in the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinammon and sea salt.

4. Add the black chickpeas, tomatoes and vegetable stock. Cook, stirring every so often, for a further 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and the garam masala and bring back to a simmer. Cook for a further ten minutes, stirring every so often. Serve with a scattering of chopped fresh coriander plus Indian flatbreads or rice. My turmeric rice and peas is a good accompaniment to this dish.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian


6 replies

  1. This looks so flavorful! I’ll be right over!

  2. Sounds delicious. I wonder if our Indian shops stock black chickpeas. Have not noticed them in the past, but will have a look.

  3. Like you am very fond of Keralan recipes – as I have friends in Kochi was actually contemplating a spice tour to Kerala ere travelling became a wee difficult for the present. Also very much enjoy going upstate to neighbouring Goa with its Portuguese touches . . . . Shall copy your recipe come next week – thank you !

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