Braised Kadala (brown chickpeas) was quintessential prayer food, growing up in South Africa. Amma made it for the fasting prayer, Lakshmi Day or as a snack. Much like Amma’s samp and beans, it is tempered in whole spices. It gets its flavour and aroma from the combination of fried onion, mustard seed, jeera, curry leaves and dried chillies. For a fresh new way of enjoying an old favourite, toss leftover kadala into a green salad for a protein-packed light lunch or enjoy as a side with grilled meat.
What is Brown Chickpeas?
Brown chickpeas (also known as Kala chana, black chickpea or desi type), stem from the same family Fabaceae, as its larger, paler cousin the garbanzo bean. The latter is smoother and commonly used to make hummus and falafel. Brown chickpeas have a thick covering which accounts for its nutty texture and flavour. There is more than meets the eye to this type of thick-skinned chickpea. When the skin is removed, it reveals a yellow inner. It is split to form chana dhal which is also used to make yellow split gram dhal (chana dhal). The powder form is known as Chana flour, gram flour or Besan.
How to Cook Brown Chickpeas
This variety of chickpea is less common than its paler counterpart. It can be found in ethnic food shops in whole or canned form. When cooking whole brown chickpeas, it is best to soak overnight, rinse thoroughly then boil for at least two hours before braising. Although it has a soft texture when cooked, it still retains a nut-like form due to its thick skin. This also accounts for it’s longer cooking time.
To make braised Kadla, simply boil then add to whole spice-infused oil.