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Black chickpeas with white poppy seeds and red onions

This is such a simple recipe that has such a tremendous impact on my guests. It is unusual and pops with spicy and tart flavors. Although this recipe may be long to read, it is really quite simple to make.

This Pakistani dish is generally served as a side, but I like to serve it as a salad. The beautiful earthy flavors of the black chickpeas are brought alive by the spicy and tart dressing. If you have trouble finding the small black chickpeas, you can also use the dried green chickpeas or regular chickpeas, however you will loose some of the earthy flavor of the dish. In addition, I tend to cook the sauce a bit to smooth out the raw flavor of tamarind.

This is a wonderful cookbook of ancient and modern cuisine from Pakistan. A beautiful cookbook, with gorgeous photographs and packed with lots of recipes. The author has kept to the traditional flavors and traditions. This is a wonderful cookbook and one for anyone who would like to enjoy this cuisine.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the black chickpeas

2 1/2 cups dried black chickpeas, soaked in 7 cups water overnight. Can also use dried green chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups regular chickpeas

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

2-3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon nigella (kalonji) seeds

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

2-3 red onions, finely sliced

Salt, to taste

Cilantro, minced to garnish

Cherry tomatoes, to garnish

For the tamarind-chili chutney

4 tablespoons tamarind extract

10-12 dried red chilies, soaked in water overnight or simmered for 5 minutes on the stove

4 garlic cloves

Salt, to taste

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoon oil

To make the tamarind-chili chutney:

Add all the ingredients for the chutney to a small blender and purée till very smooth.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the purée. Bring to a boil and cook on a low flame for 5 minutes till thickened. Set aside.

To make the black chickpeas:

Drain the chickpeas and add enough water to completely cover the chickpeas. Add the salt, bay leaf and garlic and bring to a boil. Scoop off the scum and simmer for 15-20 minutes till the black chickpeas are just cooked. You do not want them mushy but with a great bite. Cool under running water, drain and set aside.

In a large deep pan or wok heat the oil on medium high. Add the cumin seeds, nigella seeds and poppy seeds and sauté for 45-60 seconds, till the seeds begin to pop or the poppy seeds start turning a light golden.

Add the onions and salt and sauté for an additional 3-4 minutes till the onions are barely cooked, they should still have a good raw crunch.

Add the cooked black chickpeas and warm through mixing them with well with the onions and poppy seeds.

To finish:

You can serve this dish a number of ways:

To create a side dish or casual salad, pour the warmed tamarind-chili chutney into a small bowl and surround with the warmed black chickpea mix. Top with cilantro and tomatoes and briing to the table. Toss the chutney into the black chickpeas at the table..

For a more formal salad, add half of the tamarind-chili chutney to the black chickpeas and cook till the sauce is almost completely absorbed. lay out 1-2 lettuce leaves per plate. Load the heated black chickpeas on the lettuce leaves and sprinkle on the cilantro and arrange the tomatoes on top or side. Serve with additional tamarind-chili chutney on the side.

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