Today we will make an Instant Pot Chana Masala. This recipe is super easy, it takes just 10 minutes of actual cooking, and it’s 100 percent vegan. And it’s delicious. If you’re not familiar with chana masala or chole masala as it’s sometimes called, depending on the type of chickpea used, it’s an Indian chickpea curry.
And chana refers to the type of chickpea, and Masala refers to the spice blend or the spice mix. What I love about this dish is that it’s hearty and comforting but still healthy. It’s chickpeas cooked in a thick, tangy spiced gravy.
How do you make the perfect Instant Pot Indian Recipe?
For this dish, it starts with a few whole spices I’m frying some black mustard seeds and cumin seeds in oil if you can’t find black mustard seeds, not to worry.
You can use the more commonly available brown mustard seeds. They’ll do just fine; they’re just a little bit less spicy than the black ones. And the reason a lot of Indian dishes start with frying spices is that it enhances the flavor of the original spice. It makes it more intense, bolder, and it gives a more complex flavor to the entire dish.
You want to wait until the oil is really hot in the Instant Pot before adding the spices. They’ll sputter and spit a little bit, so stand back, so you don’t get burned. And you just need about 30 seconds for that.
Like most Indian dishes, chana masala also starts with a base of aromatics – onions, green chili, garlic, and ginger.
These ingredients are so common in Indian cuisine so that I can always find a tub of green chili-garlic-ginger paste in my mom’s fridge.
For this recipe, I’m using two Serrano peppers, which yields a nice medium heat.
If you want it to be spicier, you can use another pepper. And if you want it to be less spicy, you can omit the seeds where most of the spiciness is, or you can use how jalapeno peppers instead, which have less spiciness than a Serrano pepper.
I like to use gloves when I’m chopping peppers because there’s nothing worse than touching your eye after you’ve touched hot chili peppers. Trust me; this is not something you want to experience.
After the whole spices have been toasted, you’ll add the aromatics.
Start by cooking the onion until it’s lightly browned and then add the ginger, bay leaves, garlic, and green chilies.
After you let these initial ingredients cook down and get a little browned, you’re gonna add some ground spices. And no Indian dish would be complete without a generous dose of spices.
I’m using ground coriander, chili powder, garam masala, and turmeric, along with a healthy amount of salt and pepper. The spices just need a minute to cook and incorporate.
And if it seems dry, you might want to add a tablespoon of water to prevent burning because the Instant Pot can suck up all the oil.
There is one spice that’s commonly used in chana masala that I’m not using today. It’s called amchur, and it’s dried mango powder.
It’s made from unripe green mangoes, and it gives the dish a tart, tangy flavor. Unfortunately, amchur is hard to find outside of Indian grocery stores, so I wanted to keep this dish accessible. Instead, I’m using some lemon juice at the end to give it that tart, tangy flavor.
But if you happen to have a well-stocked Indian spice cabinet, feel free to use one and a half teaspoons of amchur instead of the lemon juice. While it’s a little more traditional to use whole dried chickpeas instead of canned chickpeas, I wanted to keep this dish super easy and quick.
And honestly can’t tell the difference. But if you do want to use whole dried chickpeas, you’ll need about 12 ounces or one and a half cups, which is about three cans of chickpeas.
You also need to soak the whole chickpeas in plenty of water for about 8 hours before cooking, so if you want to skip this extra step, just use canned chickpeas.
It’ll turn out great, I promise. After all of the spices, you’ll just add the remaining ingredients – the chickpeas, tomatoes, and broth. For the tomatoes, I’m using canned tomatoes instead of fresh because, honestly, the quality of most supermarket tomatoes in the U.S. is pretty bad – they’re bland, and they’re boring. And canned tomatoes are gonna give a lot more flavor than fresh ones.
But if you live somewhere with amazing quality tomatoes or it’s tomato season, and you have some locally grown tomatoes, feel free to use a couple of fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones.
It’ll add a nice freshness and vibrancy. Give everything a good stir and secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set the pressure release to Sealing instead of Venting.
Select the manual setting and set it to high pressure for 8 minutes. If you’re using dried whole chickpeas that you’ve soaked, you’ll set it to 35 minutes instead.
Allow the pressure to come to a natural release – this should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Open the pot, stir it, and then add the lemon juice and fresh cilantro leaves.
I recommend letting the chana masala sit for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving because it gives a chance for all the flavors to meld together, and it always tastes better the next day.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Instant Pot chana masala.
The Perfect Vegan Instant pot Chana Masala is a delicious traditional Indian-spiced chickpea curry and made with just a few simple ingredients. I’m sure you will enjoy it!
- 3-15 ounce cans of chickpeas OR 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dried chickpeas
- 3 tbsp coconut oil or neutral oil
- 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 2 Serrano peppers, minced*
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1-14 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
If you use dry chickpeas, place them in a large bowl and let them soak overnight in cold water. Drain, rinse and set aside. If you use canned chickpeas, open the boxes, drain them, and rinse them.
On the Instant Pot, select the Sauté setting. Add the oil and once it is shimmering, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. They might sputter a bit so stand back. After 30 seconds, add the diced onion and cook, stirring frequently until the onion starts to brown, 6-7 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, chilies and bay leaves and stir to combine until garlic is golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
Add the ground spices and seasonings (coriander, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, black pepper, salt) and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. You may need to add a tablespoon of water to prevent the mixture from drying out and/or burning.
Stir in the canned tomatoes, chickpeas, vegetable broth. Stir well to combine. Select the Keep Warm/Cancel setting.
Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the Pressure Release valve to Sealing. Select the Manual setting on the Instant Pot and set to high pressure for 8 minutes if using canned chickpeas (35 minutes if using soaked, dried chickpeas).
Once the 8 minute timer is up, allow the Instant Pot to come to a natural pressure release. The little metal pin next to the pressure valve will go down once the pressure is released (should take 10-15 minutes).
Open the pot and stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve over rice or with naan bread.