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.

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.

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

Channa Kulambu recipe:


Main ingredients:
Cooked white chickpeas (Kabuli channa)1/2 cup
Brinjal (eggplants)2
Tamarinda small lemon sized ball
Salt1 tsp
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
For tempering:
Sesame oil (nallennai)1 tsp
Cumin seeds1/2 tsp
Bay leaf1
Curry leavesa few
Asafoetida (hing) powder1/8 tsp (a pinch)

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.

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.

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 chilli varieties

111 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for teaching a new variety of kulambu with channa. Looks so delicious

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you so much.

  2. Srinivasan says:

    Very nice presentation
    Can we use thooduvalai leaves with the thorn

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you.
      Yes, you can use them with the thorns, please check out my detailed post on thoothuvalai here:

  3. I likelall your serving suggestions of accompanying kadalai kulambu along with rice mashed spinach, yogurt vegetables curry and scrambled potato. It would make for a wonderful eating experience and also I just love chickoeas. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ€๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒท๐Ÿ€๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒท


    1. Megala says:

      I’m so delighted to hear this. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much, Marina!

  4. Khanak says:

    This sounds delicious! I’ve never tried it, but I’m sure going to now.
    Great post!

    Khanak x

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you!

  5. Gotta try this out too! Sounds lipsmacking. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sandhya says:

    We were both thinking of chana this week! Happy to have another recipe. thanks for sharing.

    1. Megala says:

      Pleasure is always mine. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’m sorry for the late reply as I missed to notice your comment.

      1. Sandhya says:

        No problem Meghala. Have a great weekend!

  7. Savvy Raj says:

    This is new to me… will give it a try! Thank you Megala

    1. Megala says:

      You are welcome! Thanks much for reading my posts,

  8. Vijethkannan says:

    เฎจเฎฉเฏเฎฑเฎฟ,Thank you for sharing this dish ๐ŸŒธ

    1. Megala says:

      You are most welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by.

  9. It seems like such a simple dish, yet the spices are incredibly complex. I would have never guessed there were poppy seeds in there! I’ll have to try this blend.

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you.

  10. Lady Oscar says:

    This looks delicious! it will be a little challenging because the ingredients may not easy to be found here… However, I am still trying it! I am experimental. haha!

    1. Megala says:

      Oh, nice to hear this. You can very well try with any curry powder available with you. ๐Ÿ˜€
      Thank you.

      1. Lady Oscar says:

        Really?! any curry powder will work?! thank you for the tip! That is much easier now!

      2. Megala says:

        Yes, go ahead and let me know how it turned out for you.

      3. Lady Oscar says:

        Hello Megala, I used the curry powder I got from a Vietnamese shop. It was very good! I am going to try another type of curry – curry bar from Japan. ^^

      4. Megala says:

        Oh! Thank you so much Lady Oscar!

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