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Roselle leaves with black gram (Ambada chana)

Roselle leaves (gongura or ambada) are a very nutritious tart green that is very popular in Southern India. It is the perfect substitute for Western sorrel. Andhra Pradesh uses this leaf extensively with meat curries, vegetables and dals.

This is a lovely side dish that pops with flavours. The whole black chickpeas are slowly simmered till they have a perfect bite and the gongura leaves add the flash of tartness. this dish is anything but boring, lively, fresh and delicious.

Pratibha Karan started her career as an IAS officer, and after a successful career migrated to authoring cookbooks. She has published a couple of cookbooks, and her work as the Secretary in the Ministry of Food Processing prepared her for this new role. This cookbook is her opus on Nawabi Hyderabadi cuisine, she brings to your table the distinct dishes of the era and culture. From the classic Dum ka biryani to the other lesser-known dishes that she has resurrected, this book is filled with recipes that shine on the table.

For more recipes from this book, click here.


1 cup whole black gram (kala chana), soaked overnight in 5 cups of water

4 cups water

Salt, to taste

2 large bunches of roselle leaves (ambada or gongura)

2-3 green chillies, chopped

1//2 cup water

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

3-4 dried red chillies

2 onions, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste

1/2-1 teaspoon red chilli powder, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Salt, to taste

Drain and rinse out the soaked black chickpeas. Add to a pot with water and salt and bring to a boil. Scoop off the scum that rises to the top and simmer gently for about 25-30 minutes till the chickpeas are soft but still have a firm bite.

While the chickpeas are cooking, add the roselle leaves and green chillies to a small pot with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes till the leaves have cooked down and completely wilted. Cool and purée in a small blender.

Heat the oil to a small pot and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chillies. Fry for 20 seconds till the mustard seeds begin to pop and the chillies have turned a very dark shade of red. Add the onions and sauté till they are a light golden colour.

Add the ginger, and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute until the ginger smells aromatic and cooked. Add the spices, chilli powder, turmeric and salt and give a quick turn.

Add the roselle leaf purée and cook for about 5 minutes on a gentle simmer. careful the liquids will splutter and splash all over. Stir frequently to stop the leaves from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

Add the chickpeas and mix in well. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. taste and adjust the salt. If you want to serve this curry with chapattis, thicken the curry a bit, if you are serving it with rice you can leave it a bit runny.

Serve hot with rice and/or chapattis.

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