Kabuli chana is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated legumes. It is a small, hard, knobby, beige-coloured bean with a diameter of less than a centimetre. It looks kind of like a wrinkled hazelnut. Its nutty and creamy flavour, firm texture and minimal fat make it a versatile ingredient.
The desi varieties of chickpeas are small, angular seeds, which may be yellow, green, light brown or even black in colour. It must be soaked for several hours before cooking as it is a "very hard" bean. You can also use canned Kabuli Chana which is easily avaible in supermarkets these days but nothing beats the taste of Kabuli Chana freshly soaked and boiled just before cooking.