Kadalai (Chickpea) Curry

This chickpea curry is popular not only in Sri Lanka but in South India as well. In this version, a Jaffna-style curry powder gives the dish its spicy, complex flavor. It’s worth making your curry powder — the store-bought version doesn’t compare. Use the leftover curry powder in other dishes. It’ll go quickly, trust me.

This easy weeknight curry is perfect with rice or flatbread alongside Iranian torshi or Sri Lankan sambol.

Kadala curry


4 ounces dry red chiles
8 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/2 cup water
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/4 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
4 sprigs curry leaves
1 tomato, diced
salt, to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
juice of 1 lemon

1. Make the Jaffna-style curry powder: Place chiles, coriander seeds, peppercorns, and 2 sprigs of the curry leaves in a pan and dry roast until curry leaves are crisp. Roast fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and fenugreek seeds until golden brown. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Mix all ingredients together and grind in a spice grinder. Set aside.

2. Boil potato in salted water for 4 minutes and drain.

3. Grind 1/4 cup of the chickpeas, water, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon turmeric in a food processor.

4. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Saute onions and remaining 2 sprigs of curry leaves until onions are translucent. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of Jaffna-style curry powder and mix for 1 minute. (Place unused curry powder in a glass jar and store in the fridge, reserving for other uses.) Add remaining chickpeas, potato, chickpea puree, tomato, and salt to taste. Simmer until mixture is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes.

5. Add garam masala and lemon juice, stir to mix thoroughly, and serve warm.

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