This popular Indian chickpea dish is flavoured with black tea, tamarind and a heady mix of garam masala and cumin. It’s great on its own, or served as part of a banquet. Be sure to accompany the masala with steamed rice and roti and scatter with sliced green chillies and coriander. Soak the chickpeas overnight, changing the water every two hours, if possible!






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (10 votes)


  • 250 g (1¼ cups) chickpeas, soaked overnight 
  • 1 tsp black salt (kala namak) (see Note)
  • 1 black tea tea bag 
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander 
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds 
  • 1 tbsp garam masala 
  • 2 cm-piece ginger, finely grated 
  • 35 g (about 2 cm-piece) seedless tamarind paste (see Note)
  • sliced green chillies, coriander leaves, steamed rice and and roti, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time overnight

Soak the chickpeas overnight, changing the water every 2 hours, if possible.

Drain chickpeas and place in a large saucepan with 800 ml water, ½ tsp black salt, the tea bag, bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until chickpeas are tender. Drain, discard the tea bag and cooking liquid and return chickpeas to the pan. Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over low heat. Add coriander, cumin and garam masala, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add ginger and cook for a further minute. Remove from heat.

Place tamarind and 125 ml water in a small saucepan over high heat. Break up tamarind with the back of a spoon and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes or until tamarind is softened. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and add tamarind liquid to chickpeas with toasted spices and remaining ½ tsp black salt.

Scatter over green chillies and coriander leaves and serve hot or at room temperature with rice and roti.



• Indian black salt is actually pink-mauve in colour. It is available ground or as large crystals, from Indian food shops. It has a high sulphur content with an aroma that is reminiscent of hard-boiled eggs.

• Tamarind, sold as blocks at Asian food shops or selected supermarkets, gives a sour element to dishes and is used extensively in Asian cooking. The closest substitute is lemon juice or vinegar.


As seen in Feast magazine, Mar 2012, Issue 7. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.

Photography by Alan Benson.