Deviled Chickpeas – Kadala Thel Dala

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This is another one of my favorite, quick-and-easy Sri Lankan recipes. I tried many versions of this spicy chickpea curry dish all over Sri Lanka during my 10 week adventure all across and around the island.

You can serve it as a main dish, but technically it’s a short eat (the Sri Lankan term for snack or appetizer or small meal.) Like most short eats, it’s a common snack from street food vendors, but also appears on restaurant menus and is often available from many take-out places… and on buses as a cheap finger food snack – in it’s much drier variation.

Traditionally it’s not served in a curry sauce, but is made “dry”. (This is something I found a lot in India and Sri Lanka — also with dishes such as Vegetable Manchurian or Gobi 65, and such.) I like cooking Kadala Thel Dala all kinds of ways, but usually make it without a really runny, liquid-y curry. Limiting the amount of chopped tomatoes (and cutting larger pieces) as well as using enough grated coconut (to soak up liquid) gets the chickpea curry to desired consistency. Note that rinsing and draining your chickpeas very well before cooking will help, and adding a few minutes of stir-frying on high, while constantly stirring, will also get rid of excess liquid.

Like my Jackfruit Curry, this dish is very popular with all types of eaters, it can be made spicy or not spicy (great for kids!), and is an excellent introduction to Sri Lankan flavors. It’s another one of my go-to recipes for dinner parties, cooking classes, cooking shows. I make it at home pretty often, too.

In addition to being in my third vegan cookbook The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA, it’s been published in several vegan magazines in Germany. It’s such a simple and satisfying recipe. Also I love this photo! The little green hand-painted demon guy is on a decorative wooden thing I picked up at a shop in touristy – but gorgeous – Galle Fort, not too far from Unawatuna, and where we spent our last two weeks on the southwest coast in the beach village of Dalawella.

Kadala Thel Dala
Deviled Chickpeas with tomatoes & spices

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA: A Culinary Adventure with over 70 vegan recipes

serves 2 to 3 / time 30 min

  • 2 cups (14 oz / 400 g) cooked chickpeas or 1 cup (185 g) dried chickpeas
  • 6–8 cherry tomatoes chopped or 1 medium (80 g) tomato chopped
  • 1 medium (100 g) red onion chopped or 2–3 spring onions chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 3/4 in (2 cm) fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 green chili seeded, finely chopped optional
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander ground
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 tsp chili powder or paprika ground
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 6–8 curry leaves
  • 2 Tbs grated coconut
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (Shoyu)
  • 2 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs agave syrup or sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • fresh coriander chopped for garnish
  1. If using dried chickpeas: Soak 8 hrs or overnight. Boil with fresh water in covered pot until soft, 60–90 min. Drain. If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain before use.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, ginger, green chili (if using), curry powder, ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, chili powder (or paprika), turmeric, and curry leaves. Fry, stirring frequently, until onions begin to soften, 3–5 min.
  3. Add cooked chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, grated coconut, soy sauce, lime (or lemon) juice, agave syrup (or sugar), and salt. Mix well. Cook, partially covered, stirring regularly, 9–12 min.
  4. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander or chopped spring onion green tips. Serve!

Variations:

Vedic: Replace garlic and onions with a pinch of asafoetida (hing) powder and more chopped tomatoes. Redder: Add 1 Tbs tomato paste along with chickpeas. Extra-Dry: Omit tomatoes and add (additional) 1–2 Tbs grated coconut.

This recipe is from my third vegan cookbook, The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA: A Culinary Adventure with over 70 vegan recipes. Available in English, German, and also as an e-book!

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