Protein packed Black Chickpea cooked with long grain basmati rice makes a quick hearty meal. Kala Chana Pulao is a popular Indian rice dish. I make it with loads of aromatic spices and then pair it with cool yogurt raita. On a busy day, dishes such as these come very handy.
What is Kala Chana Pulao?
Any rice dish that is cooked with veggies, meat or beans is called pulao, pulav or pilaf! It is very common in Middle East countries and India.
Kala Chana are black gram sometime also referred to as black chickpea. These are much tinier as compared to the regular white chickpea.
It is a great source of protein and can be used in several ways. We often make dry stir-fry Kala Chana or even a rich curry or stew. But it is also a great addition to a bowl of salad.
Key to a perfect fluffy Pulao
I can get very picky about pulao. It needs to be aromatic, and it cannot be mushy. Yes, I had my fair share of mushy pulao because I rushed while preparing cook or didn’t measure the water to rice ratio properly.
Here are a few key steps:
- Wash the rice several times and then layer it on a colander. This will take out the excess water and as a result will sear better when added to the hot pan.
- Once you add the water to prepare the pilaf/pulao, avoid the urge to constantly stirring it. This will only break the rice grains. If you absolutely have to stir, use a fork.
- If you want to add a little sugar to the pulao to add a mild sweetness to it, then add the sugar right at the end after the rice is cooked through. Adding sugar in the beginning will slow down the boiling of the rice and excessive slow cooking with turn into mushy texture.
Flavor of Kala Chana Pulao
A good flavor of Pulao comes from a lot of aromatic whole spices and ghee, homemade ghee preferably.
Spices that goes in can vary based on what you have handy. But if you want that earthy robust flavor of Kala Chana Pulao, then try to get these whole spices:
- Black and Green Cardamom
- Whole Mace flower (Javathri)
- Cinnamon Stick
- Star Anise
- Dry bay leaf (tej pata)
Apart from these whole spices, I also added some ground spices and dried fenugreek leaves.
Another thing I like to add in this Kala Chana Pulao for flavor boost is fresh mint leaves. I add some while making the pulao and then sprinkle some on top while serving. It gives a lovely refreshing flavor that balances beautifully with the all the earthy aroma of the spices and the black chickpea.
Preparing the Kala Chana Pulao
I used dried black chickpeas which I soaked overnight.
Then boiled the kala chana separately and while that is happening, I soaked the rice in water. This helps to cook the rice faster.
Once, that is done, I stir-fried the onion with all the aromatic spices, added the drained rice and seared it. Then add the boiled kala chana, add water and let it cook until the water is absorbed and rice is cooked through.
Finally, fluff the pulao and add more chopped fresh mint and cilantro.
With a bowl of cold yogurt and some salad, this Kala Chana Pulao is a hearty filling meal, that doesn’t really take a lot of time to prep or cook.
- 1/3 cup black chickpea (kala chana) soaked overnight in water
- 1 cup basmati rice (preferably long grain)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 medium size red onion (roughly 5 oz)
- 1 medium size potato (roughly 5 oz)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mix of cilantro and mint, plus a little extra for garnish
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 4 green cardamoms
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 dry mace flower
- few cloves
- cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- dried fenugreek leaves - 1 teaspoon
- salt to taste
- Boil the soaked kala chana until it's softened but holds the shape. If you are using traditional Indian pressure cooker, you will probably need 3 whistles. In Instapot or Multiple pot, I used the manual pressure-cook mode and let it cook for 30 minutes. Then let the steam release on its own before opening the lid.
- I prefer to the drain the water of the boiled chana and discard instead of using that to prepare the pulao but you can feel free to use it.
- Thinly slice the onion and dice the potato into bite size pieces.
- In a heavy bottom pan, pour the ghee followed by all the whole spices and let it sizzle for a while.
- Then drop the potatoes and stir it around. Sprinkle a little salt and toss it around for 2 minutes.
- Scatter the onion and cook the onion until it's soften. Add all the ground spices and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Add the boiled kala chana, washed rice and toss it around.
- Pour the water, season with salt and give it a stir.
- Bring the water to boil by increasing the temperature of the stove, then bring down the heat to minimum and let it simmer until the water is almost absorbed.
- Finally sprinkle the sugar and using a fork, gently fluff around the rice.
- Switch off the heat, and cover the pan for 5 minutes.
- Then fluff again. Garnish with more cilantro and mint leaves and serve warm.