This Instant Pot Chana Masala is one pot, super easy and does not require the special chana masala spice blend or powder. You also don’t need to make this spice blend at home, as is done in the authentic and classic Punjabi Chana Masala Recipe. Make this gluten-free and vegan chickpea curry recipe for a satisfying and comforting meal with steamed rice.
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About This Chickpea Curry
I share a chickpea curry recipe that we have been making for decades – courtesy my mother-in-law. While she makes this curry in the stovetop pressure cooker, I prepare it in the Instant Pot. This curry is very flavorful and tastes simply awesome when served with rice or eaten with naan or roti or poori (Indian fried bread).
Since this recipe also happens to be our favorite chickpea curry, I often end up making this one at home in the Instant Pot. If you don’t have the Instant Pot, you can easily make it in stovetop 3 litre pressure cooker. All you need to do is to sauté everything in the cooker and pressure cook the chickpeas with the rest of the sautéed ingredients and water.
This easy home style Punjabi chickpea curry recipe is simple in the sense that everything including the chickpeas are cooked together in the Instant Pot. Later everything is simmered till you get a medium consistency in the gravy. The recipe is also not spicy. But you can make it spicy by adding more green chilies and red chili powder.
We add a unique aromatic spice to this chickpea curry. Any guesses?
Nope, it is not black cardamoms or cloves or cinnamon. It is carom seeds (ajwain). Carom seeds bring a lovely thyme-like aroma and also help in digestion. Now if you do not have carom seeds, kindly skip them altogether and this instant pot chickpea curry will still taste good.
Remember to use fresh and good quality white chickpeas. They should not be old or out of their shelf period. It is very important to soak the chickpeas for 8 to 9 hours. This not only reduces the cooking time but also get rids of some of the phytic acid.
Serve Instant Pot Chana Masala with finely chopped onions, green chilli and lemon wedges with a side of bread, dinner rolls, naan bread, roti, poori or steamed rice.
Topping with chopped onions or lemon juice on the chickpea curry really adds a lot of taste and flavor while eating.
How to make Instant Pot Chana Masala
Prep and Soak Chickpeas
1. Take 1 cup of dried white chickpeas in a strainer or bowl and rinse them well for a couple of times with water. Then soak the chickpeas overnight or for 8 to 9 hours with enough water covering them in a bowl.
Later drain all the water and rinse the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for a couple of times. Again drain all the water and set aside.
Sautéing Aromatics in the Instant Pot
2. Before you start to cook the curry in the Instant Pot, prep all your ingredients and set them aside. Remove the whole spices and set them aside as well.
Switch on the Instant Pot and press the sauté button setting the time to 12 minutes on normal mode.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil. Let the oil become hot (but not sizzling or smoking hot). Add the following listed whole spices:
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain) – Omit if you don’t have
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4. Mix and stir. Let the spices crackle and splutter.
5. Then add ½ cup finely chopped onions.
6. Mix and begin to sauté the onions.
7. Sauté stirring often till the onions turn translucent.
8. Now add 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger, 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic and 2 to 3 slit green chillies or serrano peppers.
9. Mix and sauté for about 6 to 7 seconds. While sautéing, if the ingredients start sticking or the heat is too much, then reduce the sauté setting to low. Alternatively you can sprinkle some water and deglaze the pan.
10. Add 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes. You can also use 1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes or ½ cup of tomato puree instead of fresh tomatoes.
11. Mix well and begin to sauté the tomatoes stirring often. If the tomatoes start sticking, then sprinkle some water. Mix and continue to sauté.
12. Sauté till tomatoes soften and become pulpy.
13. Add the following ground spice powders:
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder – If you do not have kashmiri red chilli powder, then add 1 teaspoon sweet paprika or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or ½ teaspoon red chilli powder.
14. Mix very well and sauté for 3 to 4 seconds.
15. Add the soaked chickpeas.
16. Mix very well and deglaze the pan. Add salt as per taste.
17. Add 3 cups of water.
Cooking Chana Masala in Instant Pot
18. Seal with the Instant Pot lid and position the valve to sealing. Press the cancel button and press the pressure cook button. Select high pressure and set the time for 30 minutes.
19. Once the pressure cooking is complete and after the beep is heard, wait for 12 to 15 minutes or more for natural pressure release (NPR). If steam is there, then lift the valve and do a quick pressure release (QPR).
Check to see if the chickpeas are cooked and softened. If the chickpeas are al dente or undercooked, then pressure cook for 5 minutes more or as required. Note that aged or old chickpeas will take a lot of time to cook.
19. Now press the cancel button again and press the sauté button setting the time to 10 minutes on normal mode.
20. Let the chickpea curry come to a simmer. Mash a few chickpeas before the curry starts simmering. This helps in thickening the gravy.
21. Simmer till you get the desired gravy consistency (which is neither thin nor very thick).
22. Then add 1 teaspoon garam masala powder and 1 teaspoon dry mango powder. If you do not have dry mango powder, then add ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
23. Mix well. Simmer for a minute. If the gravy becomes too thick, then add some water.
24. Serve Instant Pot Chana Masala garnished with some coriander leaves (cilantro) with a side of steamed rice, cumin rice, bread, dinner rolls, roti, puri or bhatura. Do serve with a side of some finely chopped onions, lemon wedges and green chillies (optional).
Any leftovers can be refrigerated for a day. On refrigeration the curry will thicken more. So to loosen the consistency add a bit of water while reheating.
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An easy and lightly spiced version of chana masala made in the Instant Pot. The recipe does not need the special chana masala spice blend.
Prep Time 8 hrs
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 8 hrs 45 mins
Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe
Rinse the chickpeas very well in fresh water for a couple of times.
Then soak them overnight or for 8 to 9 hours in enough water. Later drain all the water from the soaked chickpeas. Rinse them again in fresh water for a couple of times. Drain all the water and set aside.
Switch on the Instant Pot and press the sauté button setting the time to 12 minutes on normal mode. Keep all the ingredients ready before you begin.
Add oil in the steel insert and let it become hot (but not smoking hot). You can use any neutral flavored oil.
Add the cinnamon, cloves, black cardamoms, tej patta, cumin seeds and carom seeds. Mix and stir. Let them crackle and splutter.
Add onions and sauté them till translucent.
Now add finely chopped ginger, garlic and slit green chillies.
Sauté for about 6 to 7 seconds. While sautéing, if the ingredients start sticking or the heat is too much, then reduce the sauté setting to low. Alternatively you can sprinkle some water and deglaze.
Next add chopped tomatoes and sauté stirring often till they soften and become pulpy.
If the tomatoes start sticking, then sprinkle some water. Mix and continue to sauté.
Add turmeric and kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix very well and sauté for 3 to 4 seconds.
Add soaked chickpeas. Mix very well and deglaze the pan. Then add salt as per taste.
Add water and deglaze the pan if required.
Cover and seal with the Instant Pot lid. Position the pressure valve to the sealing position.
Press the cancel button and press the pressure cook button. Select high pressure and set the time for 30 minutes.
Once the pressure cooking is complete and after the beep is heard, wait for 12 to 15 minutes or more for natural pressure release (NPR). If steam is there, then lift the valve and do a quick pressure release (QPR). Check to see if the chickpeas are cooked and softened. If the chickpeas are undercooked, then pressure cook for 5 more minutes or as required.
Now press the cancel button again and press the sauté button setting the time to 10 minutes on normal mode.
Let the chickpea curry come to a simmer. Mash a few chickpeas before the curry starts simmering. This helps in thickening the gravy.
Simmer till you get the desired gravy consistency (which is neither thin nor very thick but medium or slightly thick consistency). Then add garam masala powder and dry mango powder. If you do not have dry mango powder, then add ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Mix well and simmer for a minute. If the gravy becomes too thick, then add some water.
Serve Chana Masala garnished with some coriander leaves (cilantro) with a side of steamed rice, cumin rice, bread, dinner rolls, roti, puri or bhatura. Do keep a side of some finely chopped onions, lemon wedges and green chillies.
- Spicing: You can increase or reduce the spice powders, especially kashmiri red chilli powder. Do not increase the garam masala powder, but you can reduce the quantity. You can even add chana masala powder instead of garam masala powder.
- Chickpeas: Use chickpeas which are fresh and in their shelf period. Avoid using aged or old chickpeas as they do not cook well and take a lot of time. Also you don’t get best taste and texture with the old chickpeas.
- Tomatoes: You can use canned tomatoes in the recipe. Crush the canned tomatoes and add 1 cup of it. You can even add ½ cup of tomato puree if you do not have fresh tomatoes.
- Onions: You can use both red onions or white onions.
- Black Cardamoms: There is a slight smoky flavor in the chickpea curry due to Black Cardamoms. So it an essential ingredient. However, skip if you do not have black cardamoms. The smoky hints won’t be there, but still the chana masala will taste good.
- For a non-vegan version, you can make this recipe with ghee instead of oil. It will give a rich taste to the chickpea curry.
Instant Pot Chana Masala
Amount Per Serving
Calories 320 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Vitamin A 565IU11%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Vitamin E 5mg33%
Vitamin K 9µg9%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 288µg72%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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This Instant Pot Chana Masala post from the blog archives first published in November 2013 and made in stovetop pressure cooker has been republished and updated on 22 July 2021 and now updated to Instant Pot cooking method.