Mamta's Kitchen

Bengal Gram Pickle

Kala Chana Achar/Aachar

Abha Gupta

Free From GarlicFree From OnionFree From TomatoIndianSideVeganVegetarian

Bengal gram, Cicer arietinum, also known as Desi chana, is a highly nutritious, dark brown food grain, eaten in India in many ways; as a a curry, germinated and stir-fried, dry roasted, often mixed with ‘murmura’ puffed rice and munched like peanuts, a nutritious snack. Skinless split chana is cooked as a Dal. Ground black gram is used as flour, to make Missi Roti. Skinless gram flour is known as ‘besan’. It is used to make a batter for Pakoras or bhajis, is also a binding agent. Besan is also used to make many sweets like Barfi and Laddoo, to name a few. Missa Paratha are made from Bengal Gram flour.

Amounts given here are approximate, you can use either American or Imperial cup measure. Makes 1 small jam jar full.


  • 1 cup Bengal gram or kala chana, whole.

  • 1 cup lemon or lime juice. This will need 3-5 lemons/limes* (see step 3)

  • 2 level tsp. salt, adjust to taste

  • 2 tbsp. mustard oil*

  • 50 gm. root ginger (about 2 inch root), peeled and chopped (optional)

  • 2 level tsp. turmeric powder

  • 1 level tsp. chilli powder, adjust to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. nigella (sativa) or kalaunji/ kalownji seeds

  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek or methi seeds

  • 1 tbsp. black mustard seeds (not yellow)

  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds (moti saunf), whole or coarsely ground

  • 1/4 tsp. asafoetida powder or hing

  • 2 lemons or limes, cut into very small wedges (optional)

  • *Mustard oil should always be heated to smoking point first and allowed to cool completely, before adding it to the pickle.


  1. Wipe Bengal gram or chana on a towel, to remove all dust. DO NOT WASH. Washing will make the pickle go ‘off’ quickly.

  2. Lime juice: Squeeze out lemon/lime juice. Add salt to it as soon as it has been squeezed out. This stops it from getting bitter. Keep aside.

  3. Soak gram in lime juice overnight in a non-metallic container. The juice should cover the gram and be 3-4 millimetre above it.

  4. Next morning, prepare ginger and measure out all spices. Sterilise a glass jar.

  5. Heat mustard oil in a small pan or ladle or karahi to smoking point.

  6. Cool it a little and add ginger. Then fry ginger on medium heat, until it is crisp. Turn heat off.

  7. Place ginger and oil to a bowl. Add everything else to it, including the Bengal gram. Mix well.

  8. Transfer to a clean and dry jar, tie a piece of muslin on top and leave in the sun for 3-4 days. Close lid and leave for a few more days. It is ready to eat in about 7 days.

  9. Also see Pickle and Chutney Selection.

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