Instant Pot Chana Masala

October 9, 2018 (Updated: May 31, 2019) By Aneesha |

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An easy pressure cooker recipe for a popular Indian spiced chickpea curry, called Chana Masala.  This hearty curry is made with chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, which are rich in iron, protein and are naturally vegan & gluten-free. 

Close-up of Indian Chana Masala made in Instant Pot Pressure cooker

How to Pressure Cook Dried Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans

When I can plan ahead, I prefer to cook dried chickpeas or garbanzo beans.  They turn out creamier than the canned chickpeas.

I soak them overnight, or for 10 hours, after which I rinse them well and pressure cook in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot. The same process can be followed in any electric pressure cooker.

If I am cooking them plain, I add water, salt and pressure cook for 15 minutes. When making this curry, that time changes to 35 minutes since chickpeas take longer to cook with seasoning.

If you want to cook them separately and add the seasoning later, you can follow this easy recipe to cook chickpeas in 15 minutes.

How to Make Chana Masala in 30-Minutes

By using canned Chickpeas, you can reduce the total cooking time to less than half for this channa masala recipe.

I simply rinse out the canned chickpeas and add them to the pot as per instructions, and pressure cook everything for 5-6 minutes.

Once the cooking is done, I wait 10 minutes before releasing the pressure manually.

Indian spiced chana masala served in a black bowl

Why Use Pressure Cooker for Cooking Chickpeas

Cooking legumes and beans is a breeze in Instant Pot, or any programmable pressure cooker, it’s EASY and SAVES TIME.  

It’s an easy method which is mostly hands-off, and the chickpea curry practically cooks itself. The total time it takes to cook this curry in a pressure cooker might be close to the stove-top one, but once you set your Instant Pot, you don’t have to monitor it. That saves a lot of time, which is always a big plus.

If I were to cook them in a pan over the stove, I would end up cooking them for around 50 mins-1 hour, to get a similar consistency.  Plus, I would have to stir the pan every now and then.

Easy Recipe for Chana Masala in Instant Pot

Step 1: I soak dried chickpeas in water overnight, or for about 10 hours. You can skip this step if using canned chickpeas.

Step 2: Heat oil on saute mode (high). It takes about 30 seconds.

Step 3: Add cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle. Next, add onions, crushed ginger and garlic, tomatoes and saute for 1 minute.

Step 4: The garam masala and other spices go in next.  If you don’t have all the spices listed below, you can find ready-made chana masala powder in many stores and substitute about 1- 1.5 tablespoons of that in this recipe. If it contains salt, add only 1 tablespoon.

Step 5: Add the strained chickpeas and fresh water.  Close the lid and pressure cook on Bean or Pressure cook mode for 35 mins. In dup models, set the vent to ‘sealing’ position.

Step 6: After pressure cooking is done, wait for the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Carefully release the remaining pressure after that. You can do that by rotating the pressure valve to ‘venting’ position in DUO models, or by pushing down the pressure valve in ULTRA models. Open the lid after the pin drops. 

Step 7: Using a potato masher, mash a few beans.  This makes the curry creamier naturally.

Step 8: Squeeze fresh lemon juice, about a teaspoon.  Stir in roasted cumin powder and chopped cilantro.  Serve warm with naan or Jeera rice.

step by step guide on how to make chana masala in instant pot

Make a Meal: What to Serve with Chana Masala

I like to make cumin rice with Chana masala. Sometimes, I serve it with Brown basmati rice as well. Adding a cucumber raita completes this meal for my family. Here are the recipes:

Pro-Tips for a Delicious Chana Masala

  • If you don’t have all the spices listed below, you can find ready-made chana masala powder in many stores and substitute about 1- 1.5 tbsp of that in this recipe. If it contains salt, add only 1 tbsp.
  • To make Chana Masala in 30-minutes, use canned chickpeas.
  • If using canned chickpeas, use 2 cans for this recipe. You may have to reduce the salt considering canned chickpeas are already salted.
  • For best results, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes.
  • To make this curry creamy naturally, use a potato masher and mash a few beans in the pot. As it sits for 5-10 minutes, the curry thickens and becomes creamy.
  • Squeezing a lime towards the end makes this curry pop and it enhances the taste.
Chana Masala made in Instant pot served with brown rice and onions

What is the Difference Between Punjabi Chole and Chana Masala

These days, I often find, that Indian food restaurants use both these names interchangeably, but in my opinion, there is a difference in taste and spices used for these two dishes.

Of course, like any classic recipe, there are many variations of this dish. Here are the differences between these two chickpea recipes based on how I’ve seen it being cooked in my family:

Punjabi Chole Recipe

  • Punjabi Chole/ Punjabi Chana Masala/ Chole / Chole Masala is referred to a popular street-food style preparation of Indian chickpea curry.   It is more spicy and tangy than Chana Masala.
  • You can find some of the most authentic Punjabi Chole preparations in and around Punjab and New Delhi.
  • It’s distinguishing factor is a dark-brown curry or gravy, and a slight tangy flavor, both of which are a result of cooking Chole (chickpeas) with a combination of dry-mango powder (amchur) and dry pomegranate seeds powder (anardana powder).
  • I also add a tea-bag while cooking Chole, to enhance that dark color.
  • I don’t add any turmeric to Punjabi Chole, and add very little tomato.

Click here for PUNJABI CHOLE RECIPE.

Chana Masala Recipe

  • Authentic Chana Masala or chickpea masala on the other hand, is a tomato-onion rich gravy, with an iconic reddish-orange curry sauce.
  • I get that color by adding turmeric, Kashmiri red-chili powder (similar to paprika), and tomato puree, as detailed in the chana masala recipe card below.
  • The tomatoes form a foundation for this curry and give it a slightly sweet taste.  That contrasts perfectly with the earthy spices.

That being said, both these chickpea curries are awesome, so no matter which one you make, you can’t go wrong!

Chana masala in a black bowl

More Instant Pot INDIAN VEGETARIAN RECIPES like this:

I have several more Indian recipes on this blog, including these vegetarian recipes, all of which are gluten-free:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! For more quick & easy recipes, FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram,  Pinterest and Youtube.

instant pot chana masala served with rice and pickled onions

Instant Pot Chana Masala

A simple recipe for a popular Indian spiced chickpeas curry called Chana Masala.  This hearty and delicious curry is made with dry or canned chickpeas, which are rich in protein and are naturally vegan & gluten free.  Enjoy it over aromatic basmati rice, or pair with Naan.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Discuss Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Soaking Time (dried Chickpeas): 10 hours
Total Time: 11 hours
Servings: 6
Calories: 171kcal

Ingredients

Ingredients

Garnish

Instructions

Soak Dried Chickpeas or Use Canned

  • Rinse and soak dried chickpeas or garbanzo beans in about 4 cups of water, overnight, or at least 8-10 hours. 
  • Strain and rinse them once again before cooking. Alternatively, use canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Rinse well and strain them.

Pressure Cook

  • Heat oil (or ghee) on SAUTE (high) in the instant pot, about 30 seconds, add cumin seeds.  
  • When cumin begins to splutter, add onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, tomato and saute for a minute.  
  • Add spices, chickpeas and water. Close the lid, vent set to ‘sealing’, and pressure cook for 35 minutes at Bean or Manual mode. The time variation depends on how soft you like your chickpeas to be. If you’re using canned chickpeas, reduce the cooking time to 5-6 minutes.

Garnish

  • Wait for the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Carefully release the remaining pressure after that. You can do that by rotating the pressure valve to 'venting' position in DUO models, or by pushing down the pressure valve in ULTRA models. Open the lid after the pin drops. 
  • Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash a few beans. This makes the curry creamy and thick naturally. 
  • Garnish with cilantro and roasted cumin powder. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice. Serve with Puri, Naan, or Cumin Basmati rice!

Video

Notes

Pro-Tips for a Delicious Chana Masala

  • If you don’t have all the spices listed below, you can find ready-made chana masala powder in many stores and substitute about 1- 1.5 tbsp of that in this recipe. If it contains salt, add only 1 tbsp.
  • To make Chana Masala in 30-minutes, use canned chickpeas.
  • If using canned chickpeas, use 2 cans for this recipe. You may have to reduce the salt considering canned chickpeas are already salted.
  • For best results, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes.
  • To make this curry creamy naturally, use a potato masher and mash a few beans in the pot. As it sits for 5-10 minutes, the curry thickens and becomes creamy.
  • Squeezing a lime towards the end makes this curry pop and it enhances the taste.
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 4g | Sodium: 455mg | Potassium: 413mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 420IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 3.1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Chana masala, Instant Pot Chana Masala, Instant Pot Chickpeas curry, Instant Pot Vegan curry, punjabi chole
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HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Anne
    July 6, 2019 at 8:47 am


    I made this yesterday and it turned out great. Great flavor and very tasty. After I opened up the pressure cooker it seemed too watery so I put the instant pot on sauté and boiled a bit of the liquid down. Other than that, I followed the recipe.

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      July 7, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Hi Anne, that’s great! Thanks so much for sharing and rating the recipe! The consistency of the curry varies depending on what it is served with (naan/rice), so I reduce the sauce after cooking based on that! So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Jen in Colorado
    April 20, 2019 at 12:36 pm


    I followed instructions exactly but when I cooked for 35 minutes on “pressure cook” mode I noticed the instant pot said “burn” toward the end of cooking time. So I freaked out a little, shut it off and when I opened it up it was completely out of water but not yet burned. I tasted it and the dried smoked beans are not soft yet so I added 2 more cups of water and this time I put it on bean mode which is a set 30 minutes. While I was writing this review, the “burn” message came on again so I’m not sure what to do now. I soaked 1 cup of dried chickpeas overnight and drained well. Anyone else having this challenge?

    • Reply
      Aneesha | Spice Cravings
      April 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Jen, sorry you had this experience. I would suggest to check your sealing ring. 2 cups of water is more than enough for this curry. If it gave you a burn sign towards the end, my best guess would be that it didn’t seal all the way through, which is why those 2 cups probably evaporated due to that and that explains the beans not cooking through as well. Unfortunately some models have this issue, they start counting down even if the seal isn’t a 100% correct. I’ve had that happen in some other recipes and each time it was the sealing ring issue.

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