This Instant Pot chana masala recipe is an Indian restaurant favorite. Chickpeas cook so quickly in the Instant Pot, making this healthy vegan Indian chickpea curry a perfect weeknight meal idea. The curry is made with chickpeas and a rich and flavorful sauce of tomatoes and spices. [Instructions for Instant Pot and Stovetop.]
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Chana masala is a spicy curry that’s popular on many Indian restaurant menus. It’s a delicious and comforting North Indian curry that’s vegan, gluten-free, and protein-packed.
In Hindi, “chana” means chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), and “masala” means spiced. Chana masala is popular throughout India, but each region has its own version. This version is one that I’ve been making for many years based on a family recipe.
This easy chana masala recipe is very similar to Punjabi chole masala. In the North Indian state of Punjab, chickpeas are called chole. Chana masala is also known as chole masala (pronounced cho-lay).
Using the Instant Pot yields chickpeas that are melt-in-your-mouth tender. With just a few minutes of prep and about half an hour of pressure cooking, you can make chana masala that’s authentic and restaurant-worthy any night of the week.
❤️ WHY YOU NEED TO TRY THIS VEGAN INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA RECIPE
- This chole recipe has complex flavors without the long simmering time due to the convenience of the Instant Pot.
- The recipe is customizable – make it as mild or spicy as you like by adjusting the quantity of chili powder and paprika.
- You can use dry chickpeas or canned chickpeas. You can make it with soaked dry chickpeas or unsoaked.
- It’s budget-friendly and makes great leftovers for lunch or a quick and healthy weeknight meal.
- You can add different vegetables like spinach or potatoes or even paneer cheese for variety.
- The Instant Pot makes it a one-pot meal, which means easy cleanup!
- It’s great for meal prepping or freezing portions to enjoy later.
- This is a healthy protein-rich vegan and gluten free recipe.
💡 Tips for making chana masala curry (Punjabi chole masala)
Here are some tips for getting the best results when making this pressure cooker authentic chana masala recipe:
- Use good quality, fresh spices – If your spice powders have been sitting in your cabinet for years, do yourself a favor and toss them. Fresh ingredients make a better curry. I toast whole coriander seeds, cool them, and grind them in a spice grinder.
- Soak the chickpeas – I find that the curry tastes best if the dry chickpeas are soaked. If you don’t have time to soak the chickpeas 8 hours to overnight, you can use my quick soak method to soak the beans. If you prefer to use unsoaked garbanzo beans, increase the pressure cooking time to 55 minutes.
- Use the full natural release method – Once the chickpeas are cooked, let the pressure release on its own. Don’t manually release pressure. If, after 20 minutes, the float valve has not fallen, you can release the pressure manually if you wish. Learn more about the natural release vs quick release.
- Customize spice levels – Adjust the spiciness by varying the amount of chili powder or substituting all or some of the Kashmiri chili powder with paprika. You can add more chopped green chilies to give the curry more heat.
- Add some baking soda – If you’re chosing not to soak the chickpeas, adding baking soda to the Instant Pot before pressure cooking can help the chickpeas become extra soft.
Learn more about your Instant Pot…
- Start Cooking Later: If you want to have dinner piping hot, set your Instant Pot to Delay Start.
- Deglaze after Sauteing: Avoid the burn message and keep the Instant Pot clean by deglazing the pot.
- Symbols on Display: What do all those icons and symbols mean on your Instant Pot display panel?
- Elevate Your Food: What is a trivet and why should you use it?
- Cook Two Dishes at Once: The Pot in Pot method allows you to cook multiple dishes at once, make cheesecakes, casseroles, lasagna, and hard boiled eggs in your Instant Pot.
- Quick Soak Beans: If you forget to soak beans ahead of time, this Instant Pot hack allows you to soak dry beans in no time!
Yes, you can double the recipe. Keep the cooking time the same.
To make pressure cooker chana masala with canned chickpeas, cook for 5 minutes with a natural release of pressure.
If the chickpeas are undercooked, close the lid again and pressure cook for another 10 minutes.
You can either pressure cook the curry for 55 minutes to an hour, or do an Instant Pot quick soak of beans.
You can use pot in pot method to cook the rice and chana masala if you use canned chickpeas. Pressure cook the white basmati and chana for 6 minutes.
🧂 Instant Pot Chana Masala – Ingredients
- Lemon juice can be used if you can’t find amchur. It adds the bit of the tang that chana masala is known for.
- Cumin seeds should not burn. Add them in, and immediately add the onions.
- Yellow onions or red onions can be used. Red onions have a stronger flavor.
- Green chili can be omitted if you don’t like spicy foods. I use jalapeno or serrano peppers. Serranos tend to have a more consistent spice level, while jalapenos can be hit-or-miss.
- Tomato paste mixed with two tablespoons of water makes it easier to incorporate. It can be substituted with two medium finely chopped tomatoes or one cup of canned tomatoes (coarsely blended). Cook the tomatoes until they break down and become paste-like.
- I like to grind coriander powder in my spice grinder by toasting whole coriander seeds and cooling them down.
- Ginger garlic paste can be used instead of minced ginger and garlic.
- Kashmiri chili powder is a milder Indian chili powder. If you want the curry to be even milder, substitute any part of the chili powder with paprika.
- Brown sugar is optional, but I like adding it to balance the tart and spicy flavors.
- Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. They should be soaked overnight or using the quick soak method. You may use canned chickpeas or fully cooked chickpeas. Reduce cooking time to 5 minutes and reduce the amount of water.
- Garam masala powder can easily be made at home. But you can purchase it too.
- Amchur powder is a dried mango powder that adds a sweet and sour taste to chana masala. If you can’t find it, omit it and add some lemon juice before pressure cooking.
- Fenugreek is dried leaves (methi). Don’t use fenugreek seeds because they have a different flavor. A box of dried methi will last a very long time, and it’s shelf-stable. A little goes a long way.
Note: if you prefer to use store-bought chole masala powder or chana masala powder, follow the recipe, but cut the quantity of coriander, turmeric, chili powder, and fennel in half and add two teaspoons of the chana masala spice mix.
More details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post
📝 How to make vegan instant pot pressure cooker chickpea curry
- Soak chickpeas and add onions
- Cook onions, add tomato, spices, chickpeas
- Pressure cook
- Finish with spices
Soak chickpeas and add onions
- Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl, and add enough water to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches.
- Soak the chickpeas for 8 hours to (ideally) overnight. Alternatively, use my Instant Pot quick soak method to soak the chickpeas in a short time. I do this when I forget to soak the chickpeas, and it works quite well! *
- Heat the Instant Pot in Saute mode, and once hot, add oil. Add cumin seeds and stir briefly, but don’t allow them to burn.
- Immediately add onions, garlic, ginger, and green chili.
* If you want to make this recipe without soaking, pressure cook the dry chickpeas for 55 minutes to an hour. Adding a pinch of baking soda will make the chickpeas softer.
Cook onions, add tomato, spices, chickpeas
- Saute the onion mixture until it’s a deep golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. If you find the onions sticking to the bottom, deglaze periodically with a couple of teaspoons of broth or water.
- Mix the tomato paste with a little water and add to the Instant Pot. Saute until the tomato is cooked, about 3 minutes. The oil will separate from the tomatoes. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it sticks to the bottom.
- Press Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot. The spices will cook in the residual heat. Add coriander, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, fennel powder (if using), salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Stir spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pot with a tablespoon or two of water so nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the chickpeas and water to the pot. Stir everything to combine.
Program the Instant Pot and release pressure
- Close the lid.
- Select Pressure Cook mode and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. *
- The display will go from On to 35:00. The float valve will go up after a few minutes. The display will count down to 00:00.
- Do a natural pressure release, where you let the pressure release for 10 minutes on its own and then release the remaining pressure. Once the float valve goes down, you can open the Instant Pot.
* Pressure cook for 55 minutes to an hour if using unsoaked chickpeas. Pressure cook for 5 minutes if using canned or precooked chickpeas.
Finish with spices
- Add garam masala, amchur, and fenugreek leaves and stir to combine.
- Turn on Saute mode. Stir and heat through for a couple of minutes or until the curry has thickened to your liking. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Enjoy the chole masala with rice or naan.
More Indian Favorites
Love cooking curries and other Indian dishes in the Instant Pot but looking for new recipes? Here are a few of my favorite Instant Pot Indian recipes that are easy, delicious, and fast to make.
- Instant Pot aloo gobi
- Instant Pot coconut chicken curry soup
- Instant Pot beef curry
- Instant Pot lamb biryani
For more Indian recipes, be sure to head over to my list of amazing Instant Pot Indian recipes you need to try!
♨️ Stovetop Instructions
- In a medium saucepan, sauté onions, garlic, ginger, and green chilies in oil.
- Sauté onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in oil.
- Sauté tomato until the oil separates.
- Briefly saute spices, add water and canned chickpeas.
- Cook until the curry thickens.
- Finish with amchur, garam masala, and methi leaves, and simmer briefly.
- Garnish with cilantro if desired, and serve with rice or naan.
Detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
Instant Pot Chana Masala Recipe
- 1 cup dried chickpeas or 2 (15 ounces or 400 grams) cans cooked chickpeas *
- 2½ cups water for soaking
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1½ cups onions chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced or garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced or ginger paste
- ½ jalapeno pepper (to taste), sliced lengthwise (optional)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ¼ teaspoon fennel powder
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar optional
- 1½ cup water for cooking + more for deglazing
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon amchur **
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (dried methi)
- cilantro chopped, to garnish (optional)
Instant Pot Instructions
- In a medium bowl, soak the chickpeas in water 8 hours to (ideally) overnight. Drain. ***
- In Instant Pot Saute mode, heat oil or ghee. Add cumin seeds and stir briefly. Don't let them burn!
- Stir in onion, garlic, ginger, and green chilis and saute the onion mixture until onions are rich golden brown. This may take 7 to 12 minutes. Be patient, and don't let the onions burn. If the onions begin to burn, deglaze with a tablespoon (or more) of hot water.
- Mix tomato paste with 2 tablespoons of water and add to the onions.
- Saute until the tomato is cooked, about 3 minutes. You should notice that the oil starts to separate from the tomato. Add another tablespoon or two of hot water if it sticks to the bottom.
- Press Cancel to turn off Instant Pot. Otherwise, spices can burn when you add them.
- Add coriander, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, fennel powder, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Stir till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pot with a tablespoon or two of hot water so nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Add drained chickpeas and 1½ cups of water.
- Close the lid and Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 35 minutes.
- Do a Natural Release of pressure. [Read More: The Different Pressure Release Methods].
- Open the lid and carefully stir in the garam masala, amchur, and dried methi.
- Select Saute mode, and heat through for a couple of minutes. Garnish with cilantro if you wish. Serve with rice, bread, or naan.
Stovetop Instructions (Using canned chickpeas)
- Drain and rinse canned chickpeas and set aside.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.
- When oil is hot but not smoking, add the cumin seeds and stir briefly. Immediately add onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. Saute until golden brown, stirring frequently. Lower the heat, if necessary, to ensure onions caramelize and don't burn. This can take 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and, stirring frequently, cook until the oil separates and the onion mixture becomes paste-like, about 5 minutes; Add a tablespoon or two of hot water if the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add coriander, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, fennel powder, salt, pepper, and brown sugar, Stir for 30 seconds.
- Add ¾ cup water and garbanzo beans. Stir to ensure the bottom and sides of the pot have nothing stuck. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer till thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing's sticking to the bottom. Add more water if needed.
- Add garam masala, amchur, and dried methi. Simmer for another 5 minutes. The curry should be fairly thick, and the water should mostly evaporate. But feel free to add water as needed if it's too thick.
- Serve with rice, bread, or naan. And feel free to garnish with cilantro, if you wish.
- * If pressure cooking canned chickpeas, rinse and drain. Reduce the quantity of water to 1 cup. Pressure cook the chickpeas for only 5 minutes and do a natural release.
- ** If you can’t find amchur, use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to add tartness. Add it in with the chickpeas before pressure cooking.
- *** If you don’t want to soak the chickpeas, use dry chickpeas and pressure cook for 55 minutes to an hour. Adding a pinch of baking soda will make the chickpeas softer.
- See the blog post for detailed recipe tips, including homemade garam masala.
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I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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Neena has extensive knowledge and lifelong experience in using pressure cookers. The years of practice have honed her skills in maximizing the potential of a pressure cooker, resulting in consistently delicious and well-cooked meals. Her Instant Pot expertise enables her to provide valuable insights, troubleshooting advice, and innovative recipe ideas, making her a reliable source for all things Instant Pot!