Kondai Kadalai Kuzhambu is a delicious chickpea curry cooked in Chettinad style. This vegan dish has an immpeccable flavor & is easy to make on a weeknight!
Chettinad Cuisine is my favorite for many reasons. The food is vibrant, vivid and vivacious by all means. Its a great blend of well-balanced flavors and is known for its spicy dishes. Now you understood why its my favorite cuisine? As per our history books, this cuisine belongs to the Chettiars (also called Nagarathars) who were a small community of traders, merchants and bankers who lived at Poompuhar and Kaveripatnam under the Chola kingdom in the South of India. History also tells us that the Chettiars played a key role in South India’s spice trade with countries like Burma, Java, Khmer (Cambodia), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Mauritius. No wonder, the traditional Chettinad dishes use a variety of spices in their masala. The Chettiars have traditionally been vegetarians and hence most of their dishes are vegetarian. But over the years, due to the influence of trade, the masala began to be used in many non vegetarian and sea food recipes giving these dishes a very unique flavor. Most of their masala consists of whole spices, coconut and garlic. Back then, the masala was hand pounded in stone grinders and the taste of that masala was unbeatable!
These meals are often accompanied by buttermilk or nannari sherbet to tone down the heat of the cuisine’s fierce curries. All South Indian traditional meals are served on banana leaves and follow a specific protocol – each dish has a designated space and order in which it has to be served. I absolutely love eating on a banana leaf. Its Eco-friendly, saves times on cleaning plates plus it enhances the taste of the food even more. In villages and small towns, the used banana leaves are served to the cow as food. That ways there is zero wastage. What a genius idea! Now I get to hear that many European countries are making plates out of leaves and that makes me smile. Our ancestors did that ages ago! Whenever I go to an authentic South Indian restaurant or attend any wedding, I look forward to eating on a banana leaf. Try it if you get a chance ever! We have a local restaurant here in Orlando called Southern Spice which serves authentic and fusion South Indian dishes. Although they don’t serve food on a leaf, I love to dine there because their food is awesome and it reminds me of home. I treat myself with a new dish every time I visit.
Their menu is exhaustive as it covers all cuisines of South of India both veg and non veg. They have many Chettinad dishes on the menu and one such dish is Chettinad style Chana Masala. Being a sucker for Chana Masala, I just had to order it once to see how different it was to the regular Punjabi Chole. As expected, it was delicious. Since we are regulars there, we know the staff. When I expressed my desire to compliment the chef, the manager got the chef to meet us. After complimenting his dish, we began talking. He told me that he is a Chettiar and has no formal training in restaurant cooking. Despite that, he was an excellent chef and his recipes were finger licking good. Without wasting a minute, I asked him for the best Chettinad sauce that he recommends, since I was very much interested in recreating this dish at home. He very sweetly offered me a small bottle of Chettinad sauce from his collection that he got from his native in India. I was beaming all the way back home and couldn’t wait to try this authentic sauce in a recipe. KR suggested that I recreate the same Chana Masala and that is what I did!
The recipe to make Chettinad Kondai Kadalai Kuzhambu is very easy. You can use canned chickpeas for this recipe. But I prefer using the dry ones. Soak them overnight and then pressure cook them in fresh water along with a pinch of turmeric and salt. You can even cook them in an Instant Pot. Basically, we need cooked chickpeas for this recipe. Then we need to prepare the masala. In a mixer grinder, add freshly grated coconut, roughly chopped tomatoes, poppy seeds, fennel seeds and garlic. Grind it to a smooth paste by adding little water. Keep this paste aside for now. Heat oil in a pan and once its hot add whole spices like cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, cloves and bay leaf. Fry for 15 seconds and then add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent and then add Chettinad paste/sauce. I want to try and make this sauce at home some day and if I do, I promise to share it with you. Till then, we have to make do with ready sauce. Fry the sauce for a minute and then add the ground paste. Continue to fry this masala for another 3-4 minutes. Lastly add the cooked chickpeas and salt. Add water if you need and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Chettinad Kondai Kadalai Kuzhambu is ready. Garnish with some chopped onions and cilantro. Serve it with any Indian bread or steamed rice. It’s nourishing and delicious! If you do try this recipe, please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. This will keep me motivated to develop more interesting recipes. Click a pic and post it with the hashtag #cookiliciousveg . I would love to see your pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas
For the masala
- 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 6-7 cloves garlic
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- water as required
To make the curry
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-5 cloves
- 1 onion
- 4 tbsp Chettinad sauce/paste
- salt as required
- chopped onions and cilantro for garnish
- You can use canned chickpeas for this recipe. But I prefer using the dry ones. Soak them overnight and then pressure cook them in fresh water along with a pinch of turmeric and salt. You can even cook them in an Instant Pot. Basically, we need cooked chickpeas for this recipe.
- Then we need to prepare the masala. In a mixer grinder, add freshly grated coconut, roughly chopped tomatoes, poppy seeds, fennel seeds and garlic. Grind it to a smooth paste by adding little water. Keep this paste aside for now.
- Heat oil in a pan and once its hot add whole spices like cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, cloves and bay leaf.
- Fry for 15 seconds and then add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent and then add Chettinad paste/sauce.
- Fry the sauce for a minute and then add the ground paste. Continue to fry this masala for another 3-4 minutes.
- Lastly add the cooked chickpeas and salt. Add water if you need and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Chettinad Kondai Kadalai Kuzhambu is ready. Garnish with some chopped onions and cilantro. Serve it with any Indian bread or steamed rice. It's nourishing and delicious!
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Spicy Chettinad Style Egg Roast Curry and Chettinad Kuzhi Paniyaram Recipe are two recipes from this wonderful South Indian cuisine which I love. Here are some recipes that you can try with chickpeas as the hero ingredient – Instant Pot Chickpeas & Spinach Masala | Chana Palak, Himachali Chana Madra | Chickpeas in Yogurt Gravy, Instant Pot Creamy Potato & Chickpeas Vegan Curry, Vegan Malvani Style Green Chana | Chickpeas Masala, Quinoa Chickpea Pilaf with Mazola Corn Oil, Vegan South Indian Lemon & Chickpea Rice, Shahjahani Dal | Royal Chickpeas Stew, Chickpea Masala Sliders, Simplest Punjabi Chana/Chickpeas Masala Ever, Chickpea & Black Rice Dumplings in Spinach Sauce Gravy and Butternut Squash & Chickpea Thai Curry.