This Easy Instant Pot Chana Masala is a delicious vegetarian recipe. It’s a tomato-based Indian chickpea curry that’s hearty and comforting, with lots of spice!
Ingredients in Chana Masala
Chana masala is a vegetarian Indian dish. Its main ingredient is chickpeas so it’s a cheap meal full of protein and fibre! In addition, you will need onions, canned diced tomatoes and spinach plus a few spices, making this a recipe where you can get most ingredients from your pantry!
The signature flavor of this dish requires the following spices:
- Brown sugar
- Garam masala
- Curry powder
- Lemon juice
How to make chana masala in your Instant Pot
Using an Instant Pot, you can make this flavourful dish in just about 30 minutes! Here are the step-by-step instructions below:
- Put all the ingredients except the spinach into the Instant Pot and manually set the time for two minutes on high pressure.
- Cook the rice. I use a rice cooker and let the rice cook while the rest of the dish cooks in the Instant Pot.
- Heat the naan in the microwave or oven.
- When the timer goes off, do a quick release of the Instant Pot.
- Add the spinach and lemon juice into the chana masala.
- Assemble the meal and serve!
I serve Instant Pot chana masala over rice with warm naan.
Like all types of food, everyone makes chana masala a little differently. Don’t be afraid to add in or substitute other ingredients as this dish is super versatile! To alter the flavor of your sauce, you could also use:
- Chili pepper
- Bay leaf
- Dry ginger, instead of fresh
You can even try making this dish with other types of canned beans or dry lentils if you don’t have chickpeas on hand! At this point it wouldn’t be a true chana masala but you can still enjoy the same flavours while using up another legume you have on hand.
Can you use chili powder instead of garam masala?
Garam masala is a blend of more than a dozen ground spices. It originated in India and is used in lots of Indian and South African cuisine. The best substitute for garam masala would be a blend of curry powder, chili powder and cardamom. You could also mix allspice and cumin together as a replacement.
However, garam masala does more than lend its distinctive flavor to food. The signature blend has elements that flush toxins from the body, lower blood pressure, increase circulation, soothe the stomach and more.
And if you plan to cook Indian dishes frequently, this spice blend is a must for your spice drawer.
You can usually find it in the ethnic foods section of your local grocery store, or specialty food and spice markets. You can also order some online here!
Using canned chickpeas
The easiest shortcut for this recipe is to use canned chickpeas. They should be drained and rinsed before you add them to the Instant Pot, but otherwise they are ready to go right out of the can.
Cooking chickpeas from scratch
If you choose instead to use dried chickpeas, you will have to prepare them first.
Cooking chickpeas on the stove can take up to 12 hours. I know, that can of chickpeas is looking fantastic right now. But your Instant Pot can come to the rescue again! One cup of dried chickpeas makes three cups of cooked chickpeas. And you can make these in bulk since the Instant Pot is so large.
While you can soak the chickpeas before putting them into the Instant Pot, you do not have to. You would soak them overnight and then cook them in the Instant Pot for 12 minutes.
However, it’s so much easier! You can dump the bag of dried chickpeas right into the Instant Pot with no preparation at all. To one pound of dried chickpeas, add six cups of water. Cook the chickpeas for 50 minutes on high pressure. Allow it to naturally release for 10 minutes before doing a manual release.
You can store cooked chickpeas in the refrigerator for three to four days. You can also freeze them for up to three months. With a little extra effort, you can have chickpeas ready any time.
Adding more vegetables
While spinach and tomatoes are in this dish already, this is a perfect opportunity to add more veggies to your plate. Some that taste great are:
Heartier veggies like carrots can be cooked with the rest of the ingredients in the Instant Pot. For things like kale, you will want to stir them in at the end so they don’t end up as mush.
I like to lightly steam broccoli and cauliflower florets – simply add them to a large bowl of water then microwave for 3 minutes and drain the water, then stir the broccoli/cauliflower into the chana masala at the end.
Microwaving for 3 minutes will leave the vegetables slightly undercooked, which is perfect because they will cook more when added to the hot dish. This results in perfectly steamed vegetables added in!
What do you serve with Instant Pot chana masala?
Traditionally, this meal is served over jasmine or basmati rice, along with a side of naan. But, just as you can substitute ingredients in the recipe, there are lots of ways to enjoy Instant Pot Indian chana masala.
Serve it with:
- Cauliflower rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
Storing and reheating chana masala
You can keep this dish in the refrigerator for five to seven days. This means it’s a great meal to make ahead or for easy meal prep.
The meal reheats well in the microwave, or you can reheat in a pot on the stove top. Simply microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Can you freeze chana masala?
Chickpea dishes like chana masala are very freezer-friendly. With an Instant Pot, it’s easy to make this dish in large batches. It won’t take any extra cooking time if you double the recipe but it will take a little longer to come to pressure.
Instant Pot chana masala will keep in the freezer for three months.
You can freeze rice as well, but do it separately from the chana masala. It will also keep for three months. When you reheat rice, add some water to it first.
More Instant Pot vegetarian recipes
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Order some garam masala spice here
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this recipe into your weekly lunches.
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Instant Pot Chana Masala
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
- 3 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 (796mL) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (796mL) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 cups baby spinach
- Naan, to serve
- Cilantro, to serve
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Add all ingredients to Instant Pot in the order in which they are listed, except for spinach, naan and cilantro. Place lid on Instant Pot and make sure valve is set to seal.
- Press the pressure cook button and set to high, then cook for 2 minutes. Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure then pressure cook the 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook rice in a rice cooker and heat naan if serving in the oven or microwave.
- Do a quick release of the pressure by flicking the switch at the top with a spoon, then open lid when pressure gauge has dropped and lid opens easily. Stir in lemon juice and baby spinach. Serve over basmati rice and with cilantro and naan (if serving) and enjoy!
*Nutrition info is for 1/6 of chickpeas and rice, excludes naan