Kadala Curry (Black Channa Curry/Gravy) for Appam, Rice and Phulkas

Appam is a dish that gets regularly made for breakfast at my place, atleast twice a month on rotation. But this blog post is not about appam; it is, rather, about the quintessential companion of this popular Kerala dish, the humble but delicious Kadala Curry. Appams are usually made slightly sweetish due to the fermentation, the addition of sugar as well as ground coconut. So the pairing of this spicy/savoury curry with the Appam works phenomenally well.

On the first day that appam batter is made, we use it for breakfast. My MIL usually makes appam with coconut chutney. I found this combo utterly weird and did not eat appam at all the first time, since my mom always makes sweet coconut milk to go with appam, and I don’t like eating it with chutney. However, usually on the same day for dinner rotation, my MIL makes appam with this delicious Kadala curry 🙂 When this happens, of course  I generously help myself to two-three appams and one bowl of this curry 😀

Black Channa is incredibly nutritious, known to be rich in protein. Include this in your daily rotation and you’ll be glad  you did 🙂




  • Black channa – 1 cup soaked overnight, or 8-9 hours
  • Sugar – 1/2 to 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Chaat masala – 1/2 tsp
  • Fresh coriander, chopped – 1 tbsp
  • Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp

To Grind – ingredients for Masala

  • Tomato – 2 medium sized, cubed
  • Garlic – 4 to 5 pods, peeled (lessen qty if you don’t like garlic much)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece, peeled
  • Tamarind paste – 1/2 tsp (if tomatoes are not tart enough)
  • Fresh grated coconut – a handful
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp (mostly for colour)
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon, 3-4 cloves
  • Jeera – 1 tsp
  • Black peppercorn – 1/2 tsp
  • Green chillies – 3 to 4



  1. Soak the black channa overnight or for 8-9 hours. Cook the channa with enough water in the pressure cooker for 12-13 whistles, or until soft enough for you. Once done, allow to cool.
  2. Take all the ingredients under the ‘To Grind’ list in a mixer jar.
  3. Grind it smoothly; do not add much water unless required as the tomatoes have enough moisture content. Add little water only if you think the mixture is too thick.
  4. Heat a wide kadai with 2-3 tbsp of oil.
  5. Once the oil is hot, add onions and fry till translucent. No need to brown them.
  6. Add a pinch of asafoetida and fry for 3-4 seconds.
  7. Now add the ground masala paste and sauté well. Add a pinch of salt and a little sugar to help it cook down.
  8. Turn the flame down to medium, and sauté it for 7-8 minutes until the oil separates from the mixture, and the raw masala smell is gone. If required, add very little water at this stage, so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the cooking vessel.
  9. At this point, add the cooked channa and mix well. Add water according to the consistency of gravy that you want.
  10. Adjust salt and sugar to balance the taste as per your preference.
  11. Add the chaat masala and freshly chopped coriander leaves to this. Do not omit this step as it adds a flavour punch, and fresh green coriander also gives a color variation to the predominantly red/brown gravy.


  1. For Appams and for rice, the gravy needs to be on the slightly watery side. For phulkas, you can make it thicker.
  2. The cooking time of black channa may slightly vary depending on the cooker size.
  3. Do NOT discard the water in which the channa has boiled. It is nutritious and can be used instead of adding plain water to the gravy.
  4. Reserve some cooked channa on the side. In case you end up adding a lot of water to the gravy, you can take a handful of cooked channa in your mixer jar, add little cold water and run the mixie for a few seconds until it is smooth.Add this to the boiling gravy, it will thicken it up.
  5. NEVER run the mixer grinder filled with hot ingredients. The resulting steam from it will lift the lid & splash the contents of the jar everywhere, not to mention it will be super hot. Always wait for stuff to cool down before grinding them.


Try this as a side for Appam, Chapatis/Phulkas, or even as a main dish with plain steamed rice. If you refrigerate it, it will taste even better the next day. Do let us know how it turned out in the comments below! 🙂

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