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.

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Crunchy nei kadalai & glutinous wheat halwa is a perfect pair.

Nei kadalai recipe:

img_9159 Nei kadalai

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 .

  3. I love chickpeas! I wanted to try something different with them so I seasoned them and put them in the oven. They were going to be a crunchy snack…epic fail! I have never heard of frying them so thats next on my list! Thanks for sharing

  4. Omy we never miss the chance of buying it whenever we spot the wanderer ?.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Megala. I was wondering whether you could please share the recipe of vadacurry. I so like it, but unsure as to prepare it.

  6. Great recipe, sounds so interesting. You only soak the chickpeas for 2 hours? I leave them in a bowl with water all night long 🙂

    1. Yes, I used split chickpeas, so do not require over night soaking and 2 hours of soaking is just enough.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I have had roasted chickpeas, but not fried. Too spicy for me, although I might try it without the heat!

    1. Yes, you can very well try with just salt, no need to add pepper or chilli powder. Btw,thank you for stopping by!

  8. Wow! I love to hear your story! And more about you! : ) This sounds like a great snack we need more of around here! : ) I’m going to look split chickpeas next trip to the store! I love chickpeas n humus, so I can imagine this being wonderfully delicious! 🙂

  9. This is so tempting!!My mom used to make this for me when I was young. Lot of memories with this..I like to have this with onions, tomatoes. chilllies, amchur and raw mango. A long journeys in trains can’t be completed without this chaat from vendors who used to sell in local trains in India. Loved It!!! Thank you Megala.

  10. Thanks for sharing!!! These honestly look soooooo good! I want some right now!!

      1. The link mentioned “Muruku, pakoda, sivel, dhall, aulu, poori, pakoda Sri Lanka, omom, kadalai”.
        I didn’t know we also use “pakoda” in Malaysia, since most Indians there speak Tamil.
        People here call it “bhaji” in England.
        Oh I have not heard of sivel, aulu and omom. Do you know them?

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