Nei kadalai

Nei kadalai is one of my favorite childhood snacks that I relished along with wheat halwa. It brings me back fond memories associated with this delicious savory as our family get-togethers were incomplete without spicy crunchy flavorful nei kadalai and soft gelatinous wheat halwa. I still cherish all those happy moments with my father when he brought me nei kadalai and Tirunelveli halwa.

img_9159 Nei kadalai

Nei kadalai recipe:

Cooking time: 20 min

Yields: 1½ cup (approx 300 g)


  1. Split chickpeas (split Bengal gram or kadalai paruppu) – 1 cup (200 g)
  2. Garlic – 10 pods (or 1 bulb)
  3. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  4. Red chilli powder – 1/8 tsp
  5. Salt – 1/4 tsp
  6. Groundnut oil, I used about 400 ml for deep frying

How to prepare nei kadalai:

  • Wash & soak chickpeas for 2 hours; soaked lentils get doubled in quantity (ie. 2 cups).
  • Drain water completely and spread on a towel till water is completely absorbed (about 30-45 min).
  • Wash curry leaves and keep aside on a towel to absorb water.
  • Heat a deep frying pan with oil in high flame.
  • When oil reaches the temperature of 200 deg C (just before its boiling point), reduce the flame to medium.
  • Ideally you can deep fry these lentils between 160 & 190 deg C.
  • Place 1/3 cup of lentils onto a wire skimmer and immerse into hot oil.
  • Leave them until sizzling sound begins to settle.
  • Remove skimmer from oil when lentils are in yellow color (even before turning golden).
  • Place fried chickpeas on a tissue towel to absorb excess oil.
  • Repeat the same for next batch of chickpeas (totally 6 batches- 6 times 1/3 cup gives 2 cups).
  • It took 2 to 3 minutes for frying, depending upon the temperature.
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  • Add red chilli powder and salt to the hot lentils.
  • Finally you can fry curry leaves & crushed garlic (as shown in the picture) for garnishing.
  • Store fried chickpeas in an air-tight container when they reach room temperature.
  • Serve delicious nei kadalai along with hot tea or coffee in the evening.
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Tips & Tweaks:

  • It is important to remove chickpeas from oil before they turn golden as they get cooked even after removing from oil;  otherwise they become hard to bite.
  • I used cold-pressed groundnut oil; alternatively you can use coconut oil or any neutral oil.
  • Frying chickpeas inside wired skimmer helps to fry them uniformly and also helps to gather them easily.
  • I have added garlic generously, if you want you can reduce or leave garlic.
  • I have crushed garlic pods along with their skin to enhance its flavor.
  • We can also fry minced ginger along with crushed garlic.
  • Some may like to add pepper powder instead of red chilli powder.
  • We can also add 1/4 tsp of hot ghee (clarified butter) and mix well before serving to enhance the flavor & taste.

72 comments on “Nei kadalaiAdd yours →

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  1. This looks so yummy. I enjoy your instructions. You include all the senses when you explain, sometimes listening for a certain sound is the only way to know when the time is right to move onto the next step. In love and light Cheryle

  2. It’s a easy snack and Yummy .Full of nutrition.thanks for Sharing ,it was my favourite snack in childhood .

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