Channa Kulambu

Channa kulambu was one of the few curries I enjoyed during my childhood days. In those days it was prepared using small black chickpeas and white chickpeas were sparingly used for the reasons still unconvincing to me. Eventually I switch to large white chickpeas for their soft, melt-in-mouth texture and prepare even more delicious kulambu (curry), or sundal (salad). Nowadays I like to prepare chettinad style aromatic channa kulambu using white chickpeas, drumstick pods & eggplants to savour the beautiful aroma of drumsticks & delicious flavor of channa.

channa-scaled Channa Kulambu
Chickpeas (channa)

Earlier tangy konda kadalai kulambu was served for lunch along with rice, mashed spinach (kadaintha arai keerai), yogurt based mixed vegetables curry (avial) and scrambled potato (urulai kizhangu puttu). But I like to serve channa kulambu with creamy avial made using red chillies, scrambled sweet potato (sakkaravalli kizhangu podimas) with peas and crispy tapioca appalam.

ck-1-scaled Channa Kulambu
Meals with channa kulambu, aviyal & seeni kizhangu puttu

Chettinad style channa kulambu goes very well with any millet or traditional rice variety particularly with red rice (mappillai samba arisi).

ck-2-scaled Channa Kulambu
Mapillai samba sadam with konda kadalai kuzhambu

Channa Kulambu recipe:

ck-6-scaled Channa Kulambu
Channa Kulambu


Main ingredients:
Cooked white chickpeas (Kabuli channa)1/2 cup
Brinjal (eggplants)2
Tamarinda small lemon sized ball
Salt1 tsp
ck-5-scaled Channa Kulambu
For kulambu masala:
Sesame oil (for roasting the spices)1 tsp
Red chillies4
Coriander seeds (dhania)1 tablespoon
Pepper1/2 tsp
Poppy seeds (khus khus)1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds (sombu)1/4 tsp
Cinnamon (pattai)1/2″
Cardamom (yelam)1
Ginger (inji)1″
Garlic (poondu)6 pods
ck-3-scaled Channa Kulambu
For tempering:
Sesame oil (nallennai)1 tsp
Cumin seeds1/2 tsp
Bay leaf1
Curry leavesa few
Asafoetida (hing) powder1/8 tsp (a pinch)
ck-4-scaled Channa Kulambu

Kulambu Masala:

  • Heat a pan with 1/2 tsp of sesame oil in medium flame.
  • Roast all the ingredients for masala except ginger & garlic.
  • Remove them from pan when the aroma is released.
  • Add 1/2 tsp of oil into the pan and saute ginger & garlic until done.
  • Grind them into a smooth paste after adding little water as shown below.
kulambu-masala Channa Kulambu
Chettinad style kuzhambu masala

Channa Kulambu:

  • Microwave tamarind after adding 100 ml of water for 1 min. (or soak in hot water for 15 min.)
  • Make tamarind juice using about 700 ml of water and keep aside.
  • Heat a pan with oil in medium flame.
  • Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, curry leaves into the pan and fry for few seconds.
  • Add asafoetida powder followed by chopped drumsticks & brinjal.
  • Saute for few minutes until the flavor from drumsticks is released.
  • Add tamarind extract and kulambu masala into the pan.
  • Bring it to a boil at high flame.
  • Reduce the flame to medium until the vegetables are cooked.
  • Add cooked channa while vegetables are half cooked.
  • Add salt when the vegetables become soft & tender.
  • Now reduce the flame to low and cover the pan with its lid allowing kulambu enriched with flavors of spices & drumsticks.
  • Remove from heat when it reaches the required consistency.
  • Serve hot with rice, soft idli, or spongy dosa.
channa-kulambu Channa Kulambu
Channa Kulambu recipe

Tips & Tweaks:

Here I used wrinkled Byadagi chillies for the bright red color & intense aroma, but you may use other chillies according to the desired heat & color, Salem gundu milagai are famous for blistering heat, whereas Guntur long chillies are for both the color & heat.

South-Indian-chillies Channa Kulambu
South Indian chilli varieties

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