Starting early morning from Kannur – to get home to Bangalore before nightfall – after attending the naming ceremony of my niece, we left Kerala behind and climbed up the Western Ghats. The rays of the morning sun slowly cleared the thick mist that hung in the air. Turns are hidden and motoring is a hazard as you do not know what lies ahead.
Halfway through the Ghats, almost at the end of the climb, was a small thatched shop, with people crowding around and eating from plantain leaves. A few cars and a bus were parked nearby. There wasn’t even a customary name board – “Hotel & Tea Shop” – to show it as an eatery. The fresh morning air and the starting pangs of hunger drew us into the shop; we were rewarded with steaming puttu and kadala curry, Kerala’s very own breakfast, the only item in the menu.
What set the dish apart was its perfection – the softness of the puttu married to the distinctive taste of grated coconut and the succulent kadala, with the subtle spiciness of the masala. A more perfect breakfast I cannot imagine!!
Kerala tops in having varied, tasty and nutritious breakfasts , puttu and kadala curry being one of them. Kadala curry is made with cooked Bengal gram, simmered in a brown creamy coconut sauce, with the distinctive aroma of roasted, grated coconut. It tastes great with appam too.
KERALA KADALA CURRY – CHICKPEAS IN CREAMY BROWN SAUCE
Preparation Time – 20 min. Serves – 6 Cook Time – 45min.
- Kadala / bengal gram -1 cup (cleaned and soaked overnight )
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
- Tomato – 1 , cut small
- Onion -1.5 (sliced fine)
- Small onions -3 or 4 (cut small)
- Grated coconut -1 cup
- Chilli powder -1 tsp
- Coriander powder -1/2 tsp
- Coarse pepper powder -1 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Curry leaves -1 stalk
- Red chillies – 2
- Salt – to taste
- Add 1/2 cut onion, a pinch of chilli powder and salt to the bengal gram in a pressure cooker .Add two cups of water to it, close cooker and pressure cook for 20 minutes or until the gram is tender.
- Simultaneously fry grated coconut, small onions and half the curry leaves in a thick bottomed pan till the color of the coconut turns brown and a distinctive aroma wafts from it. Take off the heat and add all the powders – chilly,coriander, pepper, and turmeric. Stir and allow to cool. Grind it to a fine paste with little water.(1)
- In a heavy pan, heat 1.5 tbsps oil, add one onion, saute till light brown, add cut tomatoes and saute till cooked. Allow to cool and grind it to a smooth sauce.(2)
- Now add both sauces (1) and (2) to the cooked kadala and allow to simmer for five to six minutes.
- Lastly, heat oil , season with mustard, red chillies and curry leaves. Add it to the kadala curry. Serve hot. Best with Puttu or Appam.
Sometimes I use Kabuli Chana (right) instead; the curry comes out as well as it does with Chickpeas.
Quick Snack – To make a quick kadala curry, soak Bengal gram overnight and pressure cook till done. Season oil with mustard, curry leaves and red chillies. Combine together all the powders – turmeric,chilly and coriander and also Eastern chicken masala (optional) with a few drops of water and fry the paste. Put gram and simmer for 5 – 6 minutes.
Quick Tip – A substitute for tamarind is raw mango. Peel mango, slice it and use in fish curries or dals. It gives a nice, tangy taste to the curry.