This simple to make Instant Pot Chana Masala is a popular vegan and gluten-free Indian food recipe! It has a rich tomato base with authentic spices, and is served with rice or naan! A super flavorful meatless meal!
Chana masala is one of my favorite dishes to order when I go out to eat for Indian food. Also known as punjabi chole masala, it’s almost always made vegan, which makes it an easy choice! It’s also full of flavor, veggies, and plant protein!
The problem with many chana masala recipes is that they are way too heavy with too much added olive oil or ghee. If you’re looking for a recipe that’s light, flavorful, and oil-free, then you’ve come to the right place!
Not only is this a healthy variation with only 152 calories per serving, but it’s also super easy to make in the Instant Pot using dried chickpeas.
The advantage of using dried chickpeas, as opposed to canned is that they have a natural flavor since they aren’t soaked in preservatives. They’re also healthier with no added salt.
Don’t get me wrong, I use canned chickpeas often to save time. But when I’m using my pressure cooker to make a recipe, I opt for dried since I can cook them up in no time!
Note: I’ve also included instructions on how to make this recipe with canned chickpeas if you decide to opt for that.
This chana masala instant pot recipe is easy, a little bit spicy, and a filling meal!
Why This Recipe Works
- Low in Calorie
- High in Protein
- High in Fiber
- Easy Recipe
- Authentic Indian Spices
Ingredients and Notes
Chickpeas: Also called garbanzo beans, come in a variety of colors. Although white chickpeas are the ones you will most commonly find, and are the type that are called for in this recipe. You may use dried chickpeas (although you will need to remember to soak them for a minimum of 8 hours first) or you can use canned chickpeas, and reduce the pressure cook time to 6 minutes.
Garlic and Red Onion: You’ll need 3 cloves of garlic, and ½ a cup of chopped red onion. The onion adds color, texture, and flavor, while the garlic brings in a deep aroma.
Jalapeño Pepper (optional): I like to add a bit of heat to my chana masala with a finely diced jalapeño pepper. However, if you prefer something a bit more mild, opt for using less jalapeño, none at all, or simply add a dash of cayenne pepper to give it some added spice.
Fresh Ginger: Adds depth and a bit of spiciness.
Diced Tomatoes: I used canned diced tomatoes, although fresh would also be delicious! If using fresh, you’ll need about 2 cups of chopped tomatoes, and a tablespoon of tomato paste.
Spices: Traditional recipes start with whole spices. However, with this recipe, I went ahead and used ground spices for simplicity. Although, if you have whole spices at home, feel free to use them. Instead of cumin powder, use cumin seeds, and allow them to sauté with the garlic and onions.
Coconut Sugar: A touch of added sweetness to balance the heat.
Lemon and Cilantro: A refreshing finishing touch. Top with fresh squeezed lemon juice, and chopped cilantro!
See recipe card at the bottom of the post for complete measurements and instructions.
Tools and Equipment
- Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi
- Cutting board and chopping knife for preparing the vegetables.
- Measuring Cups and spoons for measuring ingredients.
Soak Chickpeas: If using dried chickpeas you’ll need to soak them overnight, or for at least 8 hours. When I’m making this recipe for dinner, I soak them in the morning, so they are ready by the evening. Pour one cup of dried chickpeas in a bowl, and fill the bowl with 3 cups of water.
Set Instant Pot to Saute Mode: Add a ¼ cup of vegetable broth to the bowl. Then add minced garlic, chopped jalapeño pepper, minced fresh ginger, and diced red onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft.
Add tomatoes and Spices: Pour in the diced tomatoes with all the juices. Then add all of the spices including the garam masala, smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric powder, salt, black pepper, and coconut sugar. Stir to combine. Sauté an additional 3 minutes.
Add Chickpeas and Water: Drain the chickpeas from the water they are soaking in, then add them to the pot. Add 1 ½ cups of fresh water for cooking.
Pressure Cook: Secure the pressure cooker lid. Turn the valve to seal. Press the pressure cook mode. Set to High. Set the time to 25 minutes.
Natural Release: When the pressure cooking is done, allow to natural release (manual release) for 20 minutes. If the button hasn’t dropped, you can turn the valve to vent to release the remaining pressure.
Serving: Serve this instant pot chana masala recipe as a stew, or on top of basmati rice, or with a side of naan. Top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and chopped cilantro!
Yes! This is the best method to use if you’re using dried chickpeas as it will help speed up the process, and using dried lends a beautiful flavor!
A variety of traditional Indian spices are used. Some common spices you’ll find include: coriander, cumin seeds (jeera), garam masala, chole masala, fennel, paprika, red chili powder, fenugreek leaves, turmeric, amchur powder, and bay leaf. This recipe calls for most but not all of these ingredients. Feel free to add more spices if you like!
Refrigerator: Allow masala to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezer: Allow masala to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a freezer safe container with all air pushed out. Label with contents and date. Store in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Reheat: If reheating from the refrigerator, warm in the microwave or stovetop until desired temperature. When frozen, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave until desired temperature is reached.
Variations and Substitutions
Using Canned Chickpeas: If you prefer to use canned chickpeas, make sure to rinse and drain. Adjust the pressure cook time to 6 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.
No Soak Dried Chickpea Method: If you forget to soak your chickpeas it is possible to cook them in the Instant Pot dried, but they may not cook evenly. If you choose to go this route, change the pressure cook time to 55 minutes, and add 3 cups of water instead of 1 ½ cups.
Soak Chickpeas in Pressure Cooker: Another option, if you forget to soak your chickpeas, is to soak them in the pressure cooker. Add one cup of dried chickpeas to the instant pot. Add 4 cups of water, and a dash of salt. Set pressure cook to High for 15 minutes. Natural release until button drops. Take chickpeas out, and begin recipe. When pressure cooking the chana masala change the time to 35 minutes.
Basmati Brown Rice: I prefer to serve with a side of white or brown basmati rice. Choose brown rice for more fiber!
Vegan Naan: An Indian bread that is light and fluffy, and perfect for scooping mouthfuls of masala!
- Use dried chickpeas for best flavor.
- Be sure to soak them for at least 8 hours, or overnight for best results.
- Make sure you use enough water when soaking.
- Change the water or add more if you notice that they have absorbed all of the water in the bowl.
- You’ll need at least 3 cups of water for soaking.
- You can find chana masala powder at an Indian grocery store, which you can use in place of garam masala in this recipe.
More instant pot recipes!
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Instant Pot Chana Masala
- ¼ cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup dried chickpeas or 2 15 oz cans of chickpeas
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup red onion finely diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper finely diced
- 1 inch fresh ginger minced
- 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 3 cups water for soaking chickpeas
- 1 ½ cups water for cooking chickpeas
- 1 tbsp lemon juice for serving
- 6 tbsp cilantro finely chopped for serving
- If using dried chickpeas you'll need to soak them overnight, or for at least 4 hours. When I'm making this recipe for dinner, I soak them in the morning, so they are ready by the evening. Pour one cup of dried chickpeas in a bowl, and fill the bowl with 3 cups of water.
- Add a ¼ cup of vegetable broth to the bowl. Then add minced garlic, chopped jalapeño pepper, minced fresh ginger, and red onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft.
- Set instant pot to sauté mode. Pour in the diced tomatoes with all the juices. Then add all of the spices including the garam masala, smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric powder, salt, black pepper, and coconut sugar. Stir to combine. Sauté an additional 3 minutes.
- Drain the chickpeas from the water they are soaking in, then add them to the pot. Add 1 ½ cups of fresh water for cooking. (If using canned chickpeas see notes.)
- Secure the pressure cooker lid. Turn the valve to seal. Press the pressure cook mode. Set to High. Set the time to 25 minutes.
- When the pressure cooking is done, allow to natural release for 20 minutes. If the button hasn't dropped, turn the valve to vent to release the remaining pressure.
- Serve as a stew, or on top of basmati rice, or with a side of naan. Top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and chopped cilantro!