Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

I’ve created this dish especially for a blogging event run by a one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen. The event is No Croutons Required, and the this month’s topic is chickpeas. I really wanted to take part, partly because I haven’t in ages, and partly because I really love chickpeas myself. After a bit of thought, I decided to adapt one of my favourite veggie Sri Lankan recipe, varar, adding caramelised shallots, coriander and lemon juice. The result is a gorgeous warm salad of chickpeas flavoured with caramelised shallots, curry leaves, coconut and lemon juice that goes great with many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and it’s also delicious on its own as a snack. I love it. I hope Lisa will like it, too.

A note on chickpeas. I really notice a difference in flavour between tinned and dried chickpeas, and for me, this is one instance when it’s worth taking the time to soak and cook the chickpeas. They’re so much nicer like that! I can even eat them as popcorns after they’ve just been cooked – they really are delicious. But if you really really can’t be bothered, then next time you’re in your favourite Asian supermarket, pick up a tin of East End brand of chickpeas. They’re the tastiest ones I’ve found. Still, for hummus and falafel, I’d soak and cook my own chickpeas.


Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas



Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas salad



SOURCE:  Inspired by Jasmine’s varar

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min, if the chickpeas are ready

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min, again, if you’re not soaking your own chickpeas

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 1 as a salad, 2 as a small side dish




a little vegetable oil

2 medium shallots, halved and then sliced thinly

1 green finger chilli 

a small handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

1 cup of chickpeas (cooked, or tinned)

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1 heaped tsp chopped coriander leaves



  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the shallots and the chili. When the shallots start going brown, throw in the curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the shallots are completely caramelised. Then, remove half of the mixture and set aside. (This will be sprinkled on top when the dish is done).
  • Return the pan to the heat, and add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan, and a couple of tbs of water (or chickpeas soaking water), and warm the chickpeas through. Then in goes the coconut and a pinch of salt. Stir it and cook for 30 s, again until it’s warmed through.
  • Just before serving, add lemon or lime juice, chopped coriander and some more salt if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining shallots and serve. Enjoy!




More Sri Lankan food at Maninas:


The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen Kulambu)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets



And more chickpeas recipes:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds (V) – This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  (V)

Chana Masala (V) for RCI Punjab

Chana masala from scratch (V) – No shop bought spice mixes!





I’m also submitting this post to to MLLA-21 hosted by Mirch Masala, and started by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

17 thoughts on “Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

  1. Love that dish and the photo! Like you I love chickpeas and use them a lot in my kitchen; but it is nice to get ideas from other cuisines and different use of the same ingredient. Great post.

    • Thanks, Joumana!
      I love how the Middle-Eastern cuisines have the most amazing way with chickpeas. This struck me as I was eating falafel and hummous one day – both made from chickpeas but oh so different!

  2. I LOVE chickpeas – the queen of pulses – and so will definitely be giving this a go. Although I’ll probably be using *ahem* the tinned variety. Mostly because i never get myself organised enough to soak and cook the lovely little nuggets in time to eat.

    And ‘tempering spices’ what a great name for that mix.

    • Well said! Indeed the chickpeas are the queen of the pulses! Incredibly versatile, as well as delicious. In fact, I’m eating them again, as I had a nice pot of chana masala simmering away, filling my house with wonderful fragrance.

      Do use tinned chickpeas if you want – I won’t complain! I was simply recommending the dried chickpeas because I find I prefer the taste. When it comes to kidney beans, on the other hand, I find the tinned ones are fine, and hardly notice the difference in taste.

      Tempering spices – it is a great name, you’re right! I never thought of that! Tempering = tadka/tarka, so I didn’t even notice!

  3. Hi guys, glad you like my chickpeas. I think I’ll be making this one often myself!

    SARAH – Welcome to my blog!
    I’m not sure why the pic doesn’t show. I can see it on my blog, but then again, it’s on my computer. Hm… If you come back, drop me a line to say if it’s still there. Thanks!

  4. Nice. I love chickpeas. I have a great spicy tomato soup with chickpeas that I love to make, salads, hummus – just can’t get enough of them… so thanks for sharing this bundle of recipes and creative ideas.

  5. Pingback: Authentic, or not? Sri Lankan, or not? « Maninas: Food Matters

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