Hi there, I’m Neena from Paint the Kitchen Red and I want to thank Beth for giving me the opportunity to do a guest post for Red & Honey! I’m really excited to share my family recipe for Instant Pot Chana Masala.
Chana Masala is one of the more popular vegetarian curry dishes at Indian restaurants. Translated as ‘spiced chickpeas’, chana masala is prepared in many different ways all across India.
In South India, which is where I come from, we make our version with diced coconut. However, this Instant Pot Chana Masala recipe that I’m sharing is similar to the kind you might order in an Indian restaurant, which is the North Indian version.
This tomato-based chickpea curry has just the right combination of spicy, salty, sweet and sour to delight your taste buds. Served with basmati rice or naan, it makes a satisfying and flavorful meal.
On top of tasting wonderful, Instant Pot Chana Masala is packed with nutritious and healthy ingredients. From the antioxidants in turmeric, to the digestive benefits of cumin and coriander, to the lycopene in tomatoes, to the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, this chickpea curry is one healthy dish.
If you’re new to Indian cooking, you might be overwhelmed by the different spices: coriander, cumin, garam masala, amchur… But don’t be intimidated; once you buy these spices, you’ll have them on hand and be able to use them to try out other Indian dishes.
I suggest you visit an Indian grocery store to buy your spices – you’ll be amazed at the affordability and selection of spices compared to a general grocery store, and you may come home with more than you were planning to!
A key flavor ingredient in this dish is the sour taste of the mango powder, amchur (pronounced aam-choor). It might be the only spice ingredient not commonly found in Indian dishes. If you choose not to use amchur, go ahead and substitute with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
This recipe can be made with canned chickpeas, but why not make the chickpeas from scratch, especially since they are so easy to make in the Instant Pot? You may never buy canned chickpeas again. Although the recipe calls for cooking only one cup of dried chickpeas (which yields 2 cups of cooked chickpeas), I often make 3 or 4 cups and either freeze what I don’t use immediately or roast them in the oven with spices and olive oil. I also sprinkle them liberally in my salads.
In this recipe, you don’t even soak the chickpeas. Just rinse them and cook them. If you’d like to soak them overnight, the cooking time can be cut to about 20 minutes.
An important step in this recipe is the browning of the onions. Make sure the onions are browned to a nice golden brown, but be careful not to burn them. This is the base of the curry. If you need to, turn off the Instant Pot periodically to let it cool down.
When you add the tomato sauce, allow it to cook until the oil separates from the tomato/onion mixture and it has a thick paste-like consistency. Next you add the spices and let them release their fragrance. Finally you add the chickpeas and water and pressure cook.
I love this recipe because it has just the right combination of spicy, salty, sour, and sweet for my tastes. But when you’ve finished cooking, taste the Instant Pot chana masala and adjust the seasoning to suit your tastes. I believe there is no right or wrong in cooking – make what YOU like!
Chana Masala tastes even better the next day once the flavors have a chance to mellow and meld. That is: IF you have any leftovers!
- 2 Tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1½ cups onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
- 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ to 1 tsp Indian red chili powder or cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp amchur / Indian mango powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups Instant Pot Chickpeas (recipe below) or canned chickpeas
- ¼ cup cilantro
- naan or basmati rice for serving (optional)
- Heat Instant Pot on 'Saute' mode, at 'Normal' temperature.
- Heat ghee or oil and saute cumin seeds till fragrant, about 10 seconds.
- Saute onions, garlic and ginger and jalapeno pepper until onions are golden brown, being careful not to burn, about 7 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce, stirring frequently. Cook for 5 minutes, until tomato mixture thickens and becomes paste-like.
- Add turmeric, chili powder, black pepper, coriander, amchur, salt, brown sugar and garam masala. Stir till fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Deglaze with water, stirring to make sure tomato mixture is not stuck on the bottom.
- Add chickpeas and stir well.
- Cook on 'Manual' mode for 6 minutes.
- Let pressure release naturally.
- Open the Instant Pot and stir the chana masala. If you would like the gravy to be thicker, cook on 'Saute' mode for a few minutes. Top with cilantro and a teaspoon of ghee, if desired.
- Serve with naan or basmati rice (recommended)
If you don't have access to amchur, substitute with 2 tsp lemon juice.
- 1 cup dry chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups water
- Pour chickpeas into the Instant Pot. Add water.
- Cook on 'Manual' mode for 35 minutes.
- Allow pressure to release naturally. Open Instant Pot and drain chickpeas.
Neena writes about her Instant Pot adventures on her blog, Paint the Kitchen Red. She loves to create Instant Pot recipes that have an international, ethnic flair and has made it her mission to convert all her family favorite recipes to the Instant Pot, one recipe at a time. One of Neena’s most popular dishes is her authentic Instant Pot Indian Chicken Curry, adapted from her mom’s recipe.
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