Chundal: Warm South Indian Chickpea Salad | Chundal Recipe

chundal in a bowl

I know I don’t post too many recipes from my home state Kerala on this blog, but I’d like to change that. I have been spending a lot of time discovering baking; and I often neglect showcasing Kerala cuisine because, perhaps, I find it too everyday and plain vanilla.

And also because when I do crave Kerala flavours, I usually don’t make a complicated curry- I rustle up a quick cabbage or beans thoran;  a chutney or even a simple raw mango salad spiked with chilli powder and tossed in a little coconut oil and feel  satisfied. And usually, these are so fleeting, I don’t manage to capture them in a post.

But I would like to change that now. I feel I don’t cook the food of my region often enough; so this warm chickpea salad would be a good place to start the rediscovery. Why? Because it’s so very simple, plus, it’s a festival dish. And also because I have some real memories attached to it.

Chundal or sundal is a chickpea salad made with brown Indian chickpeas, and in Kerala it’s made as an offering during the Navratri festivities. The last three days of Navratri are observed in Kerala with homage to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. As kids, we’d place our books in the puja room on the eighth day of the festivalto be blessed by the Goddess. We weren’t allowed to study, write or even read for a day- so you can see why I remember this festival so well! We always made sure our teachers didn’t give us any homework, either! On the tenth and final day, our books were taken out, we used our fingers to trace the words ‘om hari sri ganaptaye namaha’  on a plate of raw rice (or just wrote it on a notebook) and sat down to study in earnest for an hour or two.

My grandmom would make a large batch of chundal and my cousins and I would eat a bowlful after our ‘earnest’ study session. But you don’t have to wait for a festival to make it- it’s a great snack or side, and super-quick and simple to make.



  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and water drained (canned chickpeas are also fine.)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes or 1 red chilli pepper, crushed/scissored
  • A few curry leaves
  • A pinch of asafoetida powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated coconut
  • Salt to taste


  • In a large pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the crushed red chilli/chilli flakes, asafoetida powder if using, and curry leaves. Sautee for a about a minute.
  • Add the cooked and drained chickpeas, salt and stir-fry for a minute or two.
  • Sprinkle the grated coconut and mix gently.
  • Pull off heat, garnish with with a few more curry leaves and serve.

Asafoetida is often added to mimic the flavour of onions/garlic in Brahmin cuisines, but here it lends a subtle smokiness which I love 🙂

Lemongrass Chicken Lettuce Wraps + WP Rant

Ok what is up with WordPress? Or is it my browser? Or my laptop?

I have been trying to post pictures but just cannot. The media uploader doesn’t pop up; and my pop-up blocker isn’t enabled! Darn it, I can’t even access my reader!!

And when I try to access the main WordPress page, I get that awful, archaic, beneath-the-surface webpage where the buttons don’t display, the pictures don’t show and everything  is in Times New Roman. I need to get this fixed! (I am so technologically challenged, I can’t even clearly explain the problem I’m facing.)

I have been sad all day wondering why I can’t post properly. Posting without a picture, however basic the picture may be, is still quite bland.

But I guarantee you this dish is not.

In my last What I Ate Wednesday post, I posted about the Asian chicken lettuce wraps I ate for dinner.

I picked up some ground chicken at the market and wanted to make something other than keema curry or chilli. I wanted a cold, spicy chicken salad with Asian flavours. I really enjoy Thai raw papaya, and I love cold Thai beef salad as well. I was toying with minced chicken salad ideas in my head when boom! I remembered seeing pictures of lettuce wraps on The Food Network Website, so I bought a head of lettuce too. I figured if I could season chicken my ground chicken well, and toss it up with soy, it would make a nice Asian-inspired lettuce wrap.

These are quite easy to make, and my humble suggestion would be to let the chicken simmer with the lemongrass for a while…this way, that wonderful flavour seeps in and lasts. I ate this for lunch on Thursday too!



  • 250 grams ground chicken
  • Water for boiling
  • A handful of lemongrass leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 1 medium sixed tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium sized bell pepper, chopped- any colour you like
  • 1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • A handful or a quarter cup of roasted cashewnuts of peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes or 1 red or green chilli, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 6-8 lettuce leaves, depending on how much chicken you want to roll into one leaf


  • First, take a large pot and to it, add the ground chicken, enough water, the lemongrass leaves, rice wine vinegar and 2-3 garlic cloves. Cover and allow to simmer on a gentle heat till the chicken is cooked.
  • Next, drain off the water, remove the lemongrass leaves. Keep the chicken and garlic cloves aside.
  • In a wok, heat the oil (I used toasted sesame oil) and allow it to get hot. Add in the garlic you saved from boiling the chicken, the thinly sliced ginger,  mushrooms, onions and swish around for about 30 seconds before adding the soy sauce and stir-frying.
  • Next, add in the chicken and cashewnuts and  stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  • Add in the tomatoes, bell peppers, crushed chilli flakes, sugar and salt and stir fry for a minute or so more.

You’re done! Allow the chicken to cool in the fridge before placing on washed and dried lettuce leaves. Roll up and enjoy!

Hopefully I can figure out why my WP is acting weird.

Summertime Lentil Salad With Mango & Raw Papaya. Just Because.

I remember my grandmother making lentil and cucumber salad when I was little…soaked yellow moong dal (green gram) with grated coconut, lemon juice and tempered with mustard seeds. It isn’t really Indian if it hasn’t been tempered!! I kind of forgot about it altogether until I rediscovered the recipe in the May 2012 issue of BBC Good Food India, and I thought this is the perfect time to make it. This salad is light, refreshing and full of protein, which is an added bonus.

The actual dish, kosambari, is native to Udupi cuisine from Karnataka in Southern India. Similar lentil salads are also eaten in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, where they are called kosumalli and koshimbir. (Yes, I Googled it. A little trivia is always good, even if it comes from a third party.) The recipe in the magazine was the traditional one with lentils and cucumber, but since I Am Recipe Tweaker, I made my lentil salad with raw papaya and mango. Mangoes are so wonderful and I try to put them in everything when the season comes around. And the raw papaya would be firmer than cucumbers so I opted for it.

This salad is extremely easy to make, and the burnt chilli, asafoetida and mustard seeds give it quite a kick 🙂 (Asafoetida is used as a seasoning agent in a lot of vegetarian dishes in India, especially among communities where garlic is not consumed.)

I am also happy to report that I picked out the chilli flakes and fed this to my son who had about 3 tablespoons worth.

Mangoes brighten up any salad. Really. Truly.

SUMMERTIME LENTIL SALAD  (Adapted from BBC Good Food India May 2012)


  • 1/4 cup moong dal, (green gram or mung) soaked for 1 hour and drained
  • 1/4 cup masoor dal, (red lentils) soaked for 1 hour and drained
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut (you may use more if you wish)
  • 1/4 cup raw papaya, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ripe mango, cubed (I used a whole medium-sized mango because I love mangoes, so it was more than 1/4 cup)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

For The Tempering:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder


  • Put all the ingredients (except for the tempering agents!) together in a large bowl and combine well so that everything is evenly mixed.
  • Next, put the tadka (tempered seasoning) together. Heat the oil in a tadka dish or very small wok. When it gets hot, add the mustard seeds and the chilli flakes, and allow the mustard seeds to pop. The chilli flakes will also char a little. Add the asafoetida powder, and pull off heat immediately. Pour the seasoning into the lentil mixture and toss well.

Don’t pink lentils look pretty?

PS- I just realized, this dish is also vegan!! Woohoo.