We’ve had a couple of crisp autumnal days already this August in NYC. Luckily, it is back to being hot and steamy, but for those few days, I started looking forward to all that autumn promises – especially applepicking. We have a tradition of heading to an orchard in upstate New York every fall. My mother packs a picnic that a mix of Sri Lankan shorteats such as cutlets, patties, kadala as well as artisanal cheeses, fruit, proscuitto, blueberry muffins, cake, and sandwiches. The heady aroma of the orchard, the crisp wine, the beautiful foliage, the delicious food, combined with family time makes for an amazing getaway.

One of the dishes my mother makes for whenever we’ve gone upstate for apple-picking or camping or to a lodge, is kadala. She uses dark chickpeas and tempers it with a mixture of mustard seeds, onions, chilies and then adds coconut. It is easy, it is delicious and it is healthy.


3 cups dark chickpeas – also known as kala chana
one large onion, thinly sliced
5-6 tbsp mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
5-6 whole dried red chili peppers
1 cup whole coconut cut into small chunks

Soak the chickpeas overnight. And then if you have a pressure cooker, cook it in that for approximately 3-4 steams. If you don’t, then boil it until the chickpeas are slightly tender and edible, but not mushy. Drain any excess water and set aside.

In a pan large enough to hold the chickpeas, add the onions to some olive oil and caramelize. While it is cooking, also add the mustard seeds and the chili peppers. When the onions are a lovely brown and the mustard seeds have popped, add the chickpeas. Stir to mix it well. Add salt and pepper to taste. I sometimes salt only a little bit at this point and then, when the mixture is cool, add some sea salt or kosher salt so that when you bite into the kadala you also get a crunch of salt.

When the mixture has cooled, add the coconut chunks. Done! This is an excellent snack, but it can also be an appetizer or a side.