Instant Pot Kerala Kadala Curry | Black Chickpeas

August 5, 2021 (Last Updated: August 6, 2022)
black chickpeas curry

Make this Kerala Kadala Curry. It is an immensely flavourful gravy and is a favorite in our kitchen. It is lip-smacking with a freshly ground masala ( varuthu aracha curry) and elevates a meal. I mostly have it with rice although it is traditionally served with breakfast dishes like idiyappam, appam in Kerala. My most favorite way to eat this is with Malabar Parotas – crisp parottas with a generous dip into a kadala curry!

When we lived in Singapore, one of our regular routines was to meet at Little India after work. If we have a little more time in hand, we would head to MTR ( and eat Kharabath, Pudi Dosa) and head to Mustafa but that is the kind of trip best done on Fridays since it will take FOREVER to complete so on days we need a quick bite, we would head to the this Kerala restaurant called Cocobay. They had opened only a few years ago and I was delighted to explore a new place – so one evening we ordered a set of Kerala parottas and this kadala curry. I had mediocre expectations but the one that we ate that day BLEW my mind. It was the full way to flavour town, and boy it was so fresh!

We had good and bad days with this place. They served a delicious Sadhya with unlimited payasams one week and a kadala curry with garam masala and coconut milk another. But, the lovers of food we are we kept going there until I left. Needless to say, a few years later – I craved Kadala curry!

So while I may not make flaky, delicious Malabar Parotas yet ( one day, soon!), I make this kadala curry often. I do it in an Instant Pot and you can also make the same in any pressure cooker.

How to soak black chickpeas?

As for most legumes, soaking helps to digest them better but more importantly, helps to cut cooking time. In most recipes, the black chickpeas are pressure cooked separately with salt and then added to a masala. However, in the IP it is easy to cook them altogether if they are soaked well.

To soak these, rinse and soak in plenty of water ( at least 4 times water) for 7-8 hours. Drain fully and add to the recipe as mentioned below.

Freezing soaked black chickpeas

One of my favorite meal prep hacks is to freeze soaked and drained legumes. These are handy for a quick meal like this Kadala Curry, Rajma Masala, or a Channa Masala.

  • Rinse and soak legumes like chickpeas, black chickpeas, kidney beans overnight, drain fully in a colander for an hour.
  • Then, add to a freezer-safe box or ziplock bags in about one cup portions.
  • Ensure as much moisture is removed and freeze for up to two months.
  • It is very important to follow proper freezing and thawing practices to ensure these stay well. Remove a packet and use it fully – do not thaw the legume and freeze again.

Instant Pot Kerala Kadala Curry

Make this Kerala Kadala Curry. It is an immensely flavourful gravy and is a favorite in our kitchen. It is lip-smacking with a freshly ground masala ( varuthu aracha curry) and elevates a meal. I mostly have it with rice although it is traditionally served with breakfast dishes like idiyappam, aapam in Kerala.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


To roast in coconut oil (Set A)

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp corainder seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel
  • ½ inch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 pod cardamom
  • 10 shallots
  • 3 red chillies adjust to taste (i use kashmiri chillies usually, if using tamilnadu or regular round ones – reduce to your prefernce of spice)
  • 2 green chillies adjust to taste
  • 4 tbsp coconut (fresh or frozen and thawed)

To add to roasted ingredients and grind (Set B)

  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder optional
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp corainder powder

To add to curry and pressure cook (Set C)

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ¾ cup sliced onions
  • ½ cup tomato slices (chunky)
  • 2 cups soaked and drained black chickpeas 1 cup of raw chickpeas makes 2 cups of soaked ones.
  • 3 cups water

For final tadka (Set D)

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 5 shallots
  • 10 curry leaves


  • In a pan, add coconut oil and roast all ingredients in Set A. Start with the corainder seeds, followed by the spices, chillies, shallots, chillies and finally the coconut.
  • Transfer once the mixture is cooled to a blender, add Set B ingredients and grind adding a littel water to a smooth paste.
  • Set the Instant pot in Saute mode, add coconut oil and saute all ingredients one after another in Set C. Add the soaked chickpeas, ground masala from Set B and finally, add water and set in pressure cook mode for 25 minutes.
  • Let pressure settle naturally. Make a tadka with Set D ingredients and add to cooked curry.


  • To make this in a pressure cooker, follow Set A and Set B as per above. Add oil and saute ingredients in Set C and cook for 5 whistles. It may take 2 more whistles depending on the size of your cooker, so check after 5 whistles and cook. 
  • If you have forgotten to soak chickpeas, rinse and soak in hot boiling water for 1 hour and cook for an extra 10 minutes in the Instant Pot (or 3 more whistles)

Step by Step photos to make Instant Pot Kadala Curry

This recipe was first shared on my Instagram stories in March 2021.

Also, a fair disclaimer – this MAY not be the most authentic way to make this curry, but it is how we like it. I referred to recipes from several blogs and remembered how I liked it when I ate at Premas, Cocobay in Singapore, and in my trips to Munnar and incorporated little touches ( like adding shallots twice) from there.

Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help me learn more about your preferences and will help other readers.

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