Instant Pot Chana Masala

Created by Laura Wright
No ratings yet

Instant Pot chana masala is naturally vegan, nourishing, flavourful, relies on mostly pantry ingredients, and cooks for only 6 minutes! Naturally vegetarian dishes like chana masala are popular in their origin country India due to religious beliefs pertaining to animal consumption in Hinduism and Jainism.

An overhead shot of Chana masala in a blue speckled bowl.
Image shows a kitchen scene with soup ingredients on the counter along with an Instant pot.
An overhead shot of prepped ingredients in bowls for making Chana masala.
An overhead shot of onions sautéing in an Instant Pot.


Hey, are you one of those people that grabbed an Instant Pot during a Black Friday/Boxing Day sale and then… just kinda forgot about it? I might be a couple years late to this home cooking phenomenon, but I absolutely love my Instant Pot. It’s a dream for making extra flavourful broths (the foundation of so many plant-based foods), beans without soaking, brown rice and steel cut oats in a flash, creamy dals, risotto, and just general hands-off cooking. Once the holidays get going in their full swing, I think we could all use some nourishing, pantry-friendly recipes that can be cooking away without the need for intervention or constant babysitting. Not exactly a newsflash, but I love that this machine gets things done so that I can focus on other things like snuggling my dogs or maybe folding laundry ;)

I find that the Instant Pot really shines with stews, dal, and other slightly soupy things. The sealed nature of pressure cooking makes for some seriously robust flavour. I freaking LOVE salt and my palette tends to veer over to salty tastes a little further than most. I find myself adding much less to concoctions that I’m cooking up in the Instant Pot, which probably isn’t a bad thing! With this chana masala, you get perfectly seasoned and evenly sauced chickpeas that are spicy, meaty, and perfect with a bit of flatbread or a scoop of rice. It’s exactly the right thing for busy, wintery evenings.

Chana masala is most popular in northern India, but it is enjoyed across the country. Naturally vegetarian dishes like this are popular in India due to religious beliefs pertaining to animal consumption in Hinduism and Jainism. It seems that traditionally, chana masala is on the drier side than what I’ve presented here. Traditional recipes such as this one from Dassana’s Veg Recipes will include a sour note from amchoor, a dried mango powder. I do not use that in this recipe.

Even though I’m guessing that a lot of my readers are celebrating all things pie, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash etc. this week, I’m posting something for your possible new piece of cooking gear. My logic here is that most of you will want something healthy and super easy once the feasts are over, so just tuck this one in your back pocket for next week. For everyone else, this is just another amazing thing to make in your Instant Pot, whether well-used or collecting dust in a dark cabinet.

Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in more Instant Pot recipes. For more inspiration on that front, you can check out my Easy Vegan Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto and these Spicy Buffalo Refried Beans. Love to you all.

Image shows tomatoes, onions, and seasoning stewing in an Instant Pot with steam rising up.
Image shows Chana masala in an Instant Pot with a ladle in the pot.
An overhead shot of Chana masala in a blue speckled bowl.

Instant Pot Chana Masala

Instant Pot chana masala is naturally vegan, nourishing, flavourful, relies on mostly pantry ingredients, and cooks for only 6 minutes!
No ratings yet
INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA - The First Mess
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 small hot pepper/chili, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2- inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 strip of lemon peel, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (or 1 ½ cups)
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (from roughly 2 15-oz cans)
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

Equipment

Notes

  • I like to sauté the onions and spices in oil to really get all of the flavour out of them. If you are avoiding oil, you can “sauté” this portion in water until the onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. You’ll have to keep adding water to the pot as you cook.
  • I like to use Muir Glen’s fire-roasted tomatoes for this recipe.
  • I bet you could do this one in the slow cooker! My hunch is to put all of the ingredients into the insert (minus the coconut oil), give it a stir, and set to HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 5-6 hours.
  • A stovetop chana masala recipe right HERE.

Instructions

  • Set the Instant Pot to “sauté” mode at “normal” and add the oil to the pot. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. To the pot, add the hot pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and curry powder. Stir to combine. Keep stirring and cooking the onion and spice mixture for 4-5 minutes, or until spices appear slightly darkened and are quite fragrant.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Let this mixture come to a boil. Add the chickpeas, water, salt, and pepper and stir one more time. Cancel the sauté function.
  • Lock the lid on the Instant Pot and ensure that the valve is in the “sealing” position. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on manual mode (at “normal” temperature). Set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, let the pressure release naturally.
  • Remove the lid from the Instant Pot and stir the chana masala. If you’d like it to be thicker, set the machine to “sauté” mode and simmer until it is reduced to your liking. Adjust the instant pot chana masala for seasoning and serve immediately with chopped cilantro, rice, flatbread etc.
21/11/2018 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, chickpeas, earthy, gluten free, Instant Pot, main course, nut free, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, side dish, sour, spicy, spring, summer, tomatoes, vegan, winter

46 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Morgan P

    Hi there! Do you use Refined or Unrefined coconut oil in this recipe? I know that unrefined gives a slight coconut flavor, but I’ve never had Chana Masala before, so I don’t know which flavor profile to go for!

  • Morgan P

    What type of coconut oil do you use for this recipe…refined or unrefined? Are you trying to give it some coconut flavor, or no? Thanks!

    • Laura

      You can honestly do either! I used refined because I wasn’t aiming for a strong coconut scent.
      -L

      • Morgan P

        Cool, thanks!!!

  • Ian Hobbs

    I notice the picture shows tinned chickpeas. I wonder why not Dried Pulses they are so much better and easy to prepare and cheaper to buy. My method is to put them into soak just before I go to bed then by morning they are ready to prepare. First a pot of fresh water add the drained pulse (whichever you use) bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes to remove the Tanins. Drain and rinse then add to a small Slow cooker with a pint of salt free (salt in the stock will keep the pulses hard when cooking) stock then cook on medium for at least 2 1/2 hours.Regards Ian

  • Amy Carson

    I got the burn message before it got to pressure. Any ideas?

    • Laura

      Honestly not sure! This has never happened to me and I haven’t received that feedback from anyone else with this recipe. What size is your Instant Pot? Was there any liquid left in the pot when you opened it back up?
      -L

  • Jackie

    More Instant Pot recipes please!!

  • ALICIA CANNELL

    More Instant Pot recipes please!

  • Kathy Price

    I am trying this tomorrow. I would like both more instapot and slow cooker recipes! Thanks

  • Sherisa

    Yes, more instant pot recipes please!!

  • Beth

    I would love more instant pot recipes !!!

  • Denise

    I would love to see some more IP recipes from you please. I have a couple of recipes in rotation, but I’ve also found that onions can take on a metallic flavor, and I’m hoping your recipes can get me beyond that. Thanks.

  • Laren Cyphers

    I would love more IP recipes from you, Laura! I’m trying your steel cut oats instagram recipe tonight. Love your recipes and you!

  • Katie

    Would love more Instant Pot recipes! I love that thing, and it makes the BEST rice.

    p.s. love your site :)

  • Little Plastic Footprint

    This looks really good! I’ve made this before but never in an instant pot so will give this a try. I’ve also replaced the chickpeas with a mixed bean blend and had kind of a bean chilli / curry hybrid which was surprisingly good! Thanks for the share.

  • Natalie

    Yes more IP recipes please!! :)

  • Samantha Blank

    Thank you for posting this recipe using an Instant Pot! I AM one of those people that bough an instant pot on Black Friday and I am very eager to use it to make nutritious, vegan meals. I find most of the recipes out there have meat in them, so more vegan recipes on your blog for Instant Pot would be so helpful!

    Thanks Laura, always love what you share!

  • Baillie

    Another vote for more instant pot recipes!

  • Jessica

    You hot us at stew, dahl and steel cut oats. Now that I’ve bought an Instant Pot, I would love to see more recipes, please! :)

  • Cynthia

    What size instant pot do you use? We’re looking at getting one, but aren’t sure if we should get the 6 quart or 8 quart one. Also, your recipes are delish!

    • Laura

      Thanks so much, Cynthia! We have a 6 quart and it makes more than enough food for two of us, but is also perfect for when we’re entertaining 10+. It’s a good size for batch cooking too!
      -L

  • Jessica

    Chana masala is my fav!! I have a ‘lightly’ used instant pot I bought when my slow cooker broke, so def interested in more instant pot recipes too :)

  • Christina

    Yes please, more IP recipes! I agree that it makes cooking healthy foods even easier. This looks great and it will make a tasty side dish for left-over turkey this weekend.

  • Renée

    I am resisting buying another piece of equipment cause, well, my kitchen is small and I prefer to do with less stuff overall. But that looks wonderful so I will compare the ingredients from this recipe and those from your stovetop one and go from there.
    BTW On my stovetop is currently simmering your chili from the book, one of our favourites!
    Cheers ‍

    • Laura

      I totally get that re: amassing kitchen equipment. Frankly, my kitchen is too small to have an Instant Pot and I have to haul it up from the basement every time I use it. My stovetop chana masala is quite similar! If you replace the chopped yellow tomatoes with canned crushed fire-roasted ones, you’re pretty much there ;) So glad you’re enjoying the chili from the cookbook too.
      -L

  • Aleisha

    Yes, please, please, please more Instant Pot recipes. It is so difficult to find delicious vegan recipes for the Instant Pot and slow cooker so it would be wonderful if you post some more. I can’t wait to try this one!!!

  • Kathleen

    You can cook (brown) rice at the same time using a trivet and another container. Also, I cook dried chick peas without soaking them all the time. The ratio of bean to water is in the booklet.

    • Laura

      I haven’t used the trivet to cook grains separately yet, but I need to buck up and just do it! Thanks for the reminder :)
      -L

  • Shilpa

    Hey Laura! This is perfect for this kind of weather and yes to more insta pot recipes! Just wondering how you would make the Chana in an insta pot with dried chickpeas?

    • Laura

      Hi Shilpa! I haven’t made this recipe with dried chickpeas, but from some Googling, here’s roughly the strategy I would use:
      -soak 1 cup dried chickpeas the night before making this recipe (add them at the same point stated in the recipe)
      -Increase the amount of water to 2 1/4 cups
      -Increase pressure cooking time to 30 minutes

      I can’t guarantee results here unfortunately, but if I was attempting the recipe with dried chickpeas, this is the direction I would go in. Let me know how it goes if you try!
      -L

  • Christine

    This looks yummy thank you! And yes I’m one of those people that bought an IP a couple years ago.. it sits on a shelf most of the time collecting dust instead of making meals, so please share more recipes! Always nice to have veg recipes because most IP stuff came out for non-veg things. Thank you! So many of your recipes are on a heavy rotation in my house!

    • Laura

      Heidi at 101 Cookbooks has TONS of great veg Instant Pot recipes if you’re looking for inspiration in the meantime :)
      -L

  • Beverley Haun & John Moss

    Yes, we would love more Instant pot recipes, our go to winter comfort machine for post X-country ski days.

    • Laura

      Instant Pot cozy-ness après ski? That sounds like a DREAM! :)
      -L

  • Kathy

    Yes, please, more Instapot recipes. So far I have had some difficulties the last 2 times I tried using it. So I would appreciate more of your recipes since they work!

  • Kevin Garland

    Yes yes, please send more instant pot recipes. I’m entertaining a family of vegans over the holidays, and being able to make a meal in the morning and leave it for themday while we play is just so helpful. Absolutely love your blog and the cookbook.

  • FRANCENE KELLY

    I love your way with food! Colorful, nutritious, vegan and indulgent all at the same time. Simply stunning. And you are a brilliant photographer and food stylist. May I ask what is the make of that gorgeous blue spotted plate? I need that beauty in my kitchen!

    • Laura

      Hi Francene,
      Thank you so much for your kind compliments. My plate is from Ikea and I got it a couple years ago. I’m not sure if they still sell them.
      -L

  • Peggy Dold

    More IP recipes please!

  • Maria Pereira

    Hi, instant pot is the same as pressure cooker? I have one of those but it’s not electric, it goes in the stove. It’s great to cook octopuss and beans, very fast :)

    • Laura

      Yes, the Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker! So great for beans ;)
      -L

  • Julia Graham

    More IP recipes please! Thanks for this one;)

  • Louisa

    And I’m definitely interested in lots more insta pot recipes!

  • Louisa

    Where do I add the chickpeas?

    • Laura

      After the tomatoes start to simmer, along with the water, salt and pepper :D
      -L