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Image of black bean and spinach 'sundal'

I was born and raised in Chennai. So it goes without saying that there are many things about this city that I love. The 'patani sundal' or 'white peas sundal' is one of them. During my growing-up years, I would spend countless evenings at the Chennai beach just sitting and watching the waves crash on the shore. Every now and then, a hawker selling 'sundal' or 'boiled white peas' would pass by. Eventually, I would always buy some. Served in a little cone made of paper and garnished with coconut, this beach snack was easy on my pocket and healthy too. This post is my tribute to Chennai and the humble sundal!

Instead of using traditional white peas, I decided to use black beans instead. Black beans are warming in nature. They are good for the kidneys, the lower back, and blood. They are also an excellent source of protein, folate, iron, and fiber. To make this recipe a little more potent, I decided to give it a twist by using some spinach. I also used desiccated/dry coconut. The traditional recipe uses fresh coconut. It also uses curry leaves, which are available at the Indian grocery.

Here's my recipe with a twist to my mom's recipe.


  • 1 cup black beans (soaked overnight in 2 cups water)

  • 2 cups water

  • 3 handfuls of steamed spinach (cut into 1-inch pieces)

  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

  • 2 onions

  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds

  • pinch of asafoetida/hing (optional)

  • 1 tsp. ginger (grated)

  • 3/4 tsp. salt

  • 2 tbsp. desiccated coconut (toasted slightly to release fragrance)

  • 1 sprig of curry leaves

  • 1/2 lemon


  1. Wash the soaked black beans, rinse, and strain them.

  2. Put them into a pressure cooker and cover the beans with about 2 cups of water.

  3. Cover the cooker and cook the beans on high heat till you hear three whistles. Lower the heat and let it cook for 15 minutes.

  4. Turn off the gas and wait till all the steam inside the cooker has settled down. The beans should be 'el dante'.

  5. Strain the beans and keep them aside.

  6. Add 3 handfuls of steamed spinach (cut into 1-inch pieces) to the beans.

  7. In a separate pan, heat a tbsp. of coconut oil. When it reaches a smoky point, add in the mustard seeds, curry leaves (they will splutter, be careful), onions, and hing.

  8. Cook till the onions are translucent.

  9. Add in the ginger and salt and give it a good stir.

  10. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into the beans and toss them well.

  11. Garnish with toasted desiccated coconut and serve hot as a mid-day snack or post-workout snack.

Close up of black bean 'sundal'

NOTE: You can substitute the black beans in this recipe with black channa, red kidney beans, chickpeas, or dried green peas.


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