Sunday, 1 April 2012




     1)    Kadala (dried brown chickpeas) – 200 gm.
     2)    Raw Nendran banana – 1 no.
     3)    Onion – 200 gm.
     4)    Ginger – 1 inch piece
     5)    Coriander leaves – of 1 plant
     6)    Small coconut – 1 no.
     7)    Dry hot red chilies – 10 Nos.
     8)    Black pepper corns – 1 teaspoon
     9)    Fennel seeds – 2 teaspoons
     10)     Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
     11)     Clover – 6 Nos.
     12)     Star anise – 1 no.
     13)     Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
     14)     Kudampuli or tamarind (see note no.2) – 15 gm.
     15)     Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon]
     16)     Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     17)     Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     18)     Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
     19)     Salt – 1½ teaspoons

To Cook:

          Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Peel the onion and the ginger and chop to fine pieces. Discard the root and the hard stem of the coriander plant. Wash and chop to fine pieces. Grate the coconut. Set a cast iron wok on high heat.

          Tip in the grated coconut, the coriander seeds, 8 of the dry hot red chilies (save the other 2 for later), the black pepper corns, the fennel seeds, the cinnamon stick, the cloves and the star anise. Stir frequently taking care not to burn at the base.

          As the coconut starts to brown, turn down the heat and continue to stir till the grated coconut turns a dark brown (without charring even a little bit). Switch off the heat and continue to stir for a minute to keep the base from burning due to the residual heat of the cast iron wok.

          When cool, transfer to a food processor. If you are using tamarind, tip it in now. Pour in just enough water to grind it to superfine paste and set aside.

          Now wash and drain the soaked chickpeas. Transfer them to a 2 litre pressure cooker. Pour in enough water to immerse them fully, an inch deep. Close the lid and set on high heat. Scrape off a very thin peel from the outer skin of the banana and chop the banana roughly to chunks.

          As soon as you hear the cooker give out the second whistle, switch off the heat and let cool naturally. Once the cooker is cool enough to open, check to see whether the chickpeas are cooked (their skins will spilt open when cooked. You can take out one and squeeze with your thumb and forefinger to satisfy yourself that they are cooked. If not, cook for a bit longer. Newly harvested chickpeas puff up more when soaked as well as taste better and cook faster than those that have been stored for a long time).

          Transfer the chickpeas to a saucepan or a curry vessel together with their stock and set on high heat. Tip in the banana chunks, the chopped onion, the ginger, the salt and the turmeric powder. If the stock is less, pour in enough water to immerse the chunks.

          As soon as it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and cook till the Nendran banana turns soft. This may take around 5 minutes or so. Push in the tip of a knife into the banana to determine if it is done. If the knife goes in smoothly without much resistance, it is perfectly cooked. Now chuck in the curry paste and mix nicely.

          If the curry is too thick, add a bit more water and stir. Turn up the heat and let the curry come to a boil. If you are using kudampuli, now is the time to tip it in. Taste and add more salt if required. Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves and switch off the heat. Cover with a lid.

          Set a small pan on low heat. Pour in the coconut oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish spluttering, break each of the two red chilies into 2 or 3 pieces and tip them in. quickly pull the curry leaves off their sprigs and tip them in too. Stir once and switch off the heat.

          Transfer the entire contents of the pan into the curry. Stir well. Your delicious kadala curry is ready to serve. Serve hot with putte, vellappams, pathiris, porottas, idiyappams, chappatis, puris or with freshly baked bread.



     1)    If raw Nendran banana is not available, you can use either elephant foot yam or potatoes.

     2)    If kudampuli or tamarind are not available, just use a couple of ripe, sour tomatoes. Chop and tip them in at the time you chuck in the curry paste.

     3)    You can also use this curry paste to make excellent meat curry, shark curry, mussel curry, crab curry, egg curry, mushroom curry or soy chunks curry.

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