Brown Chickpea Salad {kalo chana ko tarkari}

This past weekend I had a relaxing afternoon/evening with my friend (and a group of her friends) BBQ’ing at a lake. In spite of the scorching 105 F, we talked, ate, and laughed a lot together after a very long time and it felt good. Since everything had already been arranged food-wise, I wanted to make some sort of simple salad (by that I mean something easy and use ingredients I already have at home). Enter brown chickpeas that had been sitting in my pantry being ignored for almost a month because my mom bought it and I have no idea what to do. So, as usual I called my mom  and she gave me her recipe (it’s more like put little bit of this, little bit of that kind of deal) for ‘kalo chana ko tarkari’ which basically is a warm salad made with brown chickpeas. It is a popular appetizer or a mid-day snack in Nepal and I like the fact that it’s super easy, hearty and can be enjoyed hot, warm, or even cold.




Brown chickpeas are darker in color and smaller in size compared to garbanzo beans but are equally nutritious and versatile when it comes to cooking. It is also referred as kala chana/Indian chickpea/Bengal gram and it can be purchased at Indian grocery stores next to other legumes/beans. I have not seen/looked for it at any other grocery stores though. Nutritionally speaking, they are a good source of fiber, protein, and other micronutrients such as iron, folate, and potassium. Like most dry beans, brown chickpea needs to be pre-soaked in order to help remove some of the indigestible complex sugars (oligosaccharides) and most importantly reduce cooking time (thus preserving nutrients). While this brown chickpea salad can be made in less than 30 minutes, the only caveat is the pre-soaking that needs to be done at least 12 hours before the cooking time. Also, in order to reduce the cooking time, I used a pressure cooker but if you don’t have one, you can cook chickpeas for additional 15-20 minutes longer to soften it.





Besides the pre-soaking and pressure cooking, this salad comes together with minimal ingredients in a jiffy. I am using carom seeds, known to help with indigestion and liberal amount of minced ginger and cumin powder because they make everything taste delicious. There are three different chilies used but feel free to adjust based on your taste but normally, it is eaten with raw chopped onions, green chilies, and cilantro.



If you’ve never tried brown chickpeas before, I highly recommend you guys give this brown chickpea salad a try – it’s like introducing yourself to their popular cousin garbanzo beans (which is my favorite) but only little darker and bolder in taste. My friend (and her friends) gave me a thumbs up on the Brown Chickpea Salad {kalo chana ko tarkari} so I promise you won’t be disappointed either. The recipe I am sharing is from my  mom but I suggest you use this as a guide and adjust the taste and spiciness as per your liking and go crazy (or not) when it comes to toppings.



Pre-soaking and cooking: In a large bowl, soak about 2 cups of dry brown chickpeas in water overnight. It usually yields about 4.5 cups but it varies depending upon the quality of your beans also. Once its soaked, rinse it and cook it in the pressure cooker (2 whistles maximum). If you don’t have a pressure cooker, during the cooking process, add 1/2 cup water total and let it cook for additional 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are tender but not mushed.[Tweet “Brown Chickpea Salad {Kalo Chana ko Tarkari)”]

Brown Chickpea Salad {kalo chana ko tarkari}

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins

Serves: 6-8


  • 2 tablespoon canola oil (or any neutral oil)

  • 1 teaspoon carom seed (ajwain/jwano in Nepali)

  • 2 whole, dry red chili pepper, crushed

  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger

  • 1 medium onion (1/2 sliced, other half chopped)

  • 4 cups, brown chickpeas (pre-soaked and cooked)

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • liberal 2 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or per taste)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • salt to taste

  • chopped cilantro, onion, green chili pepper (optional for garnish but recommended)


  1. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and temper carom seed and red chili together until fragrant.

  2. Add ginger and sliced onions (reserve chopped ones) and let it fry for 3-5 minutes then add brown chickpeas to the pan, stirring everything together.

  3. Add turmeric, cumin, salt, and red chili powder to the chickpea mixture along with 1/4 cup of water. Reduce the heat to low-medium, cover the pan and let it cook for 15 minutes until the chickpeas are tender.


Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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