A step by step guide on making Instant Pot Chana Masala. Does Chana Masala need an introduction, ever? Hang tight and read on to make the best Channa Masala ever. Relish it with Naan, Poori or with some Jeera rice.
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If there is anything that makes me chipper, it has to be a pot of bubbling curry and the aroma of freshly baked bread. The lure of a beany curry is infinite times more tempting than any other curry. And that is exactly why chickpea curry is my BFF.
This is a very straightforward curry recipe that calls for onions, tomatoes and the usual suspects- ginger and garlic. Traditionally, Channa masala uses hydrated dried chickpeas.
If you are looking to make this curry using canned chickpeas, please read the section- ” Chana Masala with canned chickpeas” within this post.
In many countries, they refer to chickpeas as garbanzo beans. I have used dried chickpeas in this recipe. While you can cook any dried bean in the Instant pot without hydrating, I do not recommend it. Here’s why.
Benefits of soaking beans
Why soak beans? This is probably one of the questions people ask me frequently. There are several benefits to soaking beans.
- Hydrating beans reduces gas causing compounds.
- Soaking beans, grains and nuts reduces tannins and polyphenols.
- Dried beans have phytic acid in them. When you soak the beans, the phytic acid is reduced. This in turn helps in better absorption of nutrients like iron, calcium and zinc.
- Soaking also reduces cooking time and improves texture.
- Lastly, buying dried beans is cheaper than buying canned beans. This is especially true if you buy beans in bulk.
Onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger
Like almost all beany curries, this Chana masala uses onions, tomatoes, freshly minced ginger and garlic.
Tomatoes– This recipe calls for fresh tomatoes. But you can substitute this with ½ cup canned peeled tomatoes.
Onions– I love using red onions in my curries. White or yellow also work well here.
Fresh ginger and garlic- While there is nothing that can beat the flavors of fresh garlic and ginger, you can substitute both of these with 1.5 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste. You can find this in any Indian grocery store or Asian store.
We will be using some basic spices like ground coriander and cumin along with paprika and Garam Masala for our curry.
Chana Masala Spice Blend
If you cannot source any of these, just use 1.25 tablespoon Chana Masala spice mix for your curry. Again, you can find this in any Indian grocery store.
Dried Amla or Anardhana
If you are wondering what these two ingredients are, let me explain. Either of these two ingredients are used to give the Chana a lovely deep dark brown color. Yes, the authentic Chana Masala is a deep dark brown.
This is dehydrated Indian Gooseberry. It is a small light green colored stone fruit that tastes sour and astringent. The Indian Gooseberry is rich in immunity-building properties and is highly recommended by alternative medicines practiced in India.
This is made by grinding dehydrated pomegranate seeds. It has a slightly tangy and sweet taste and is almost a blackish brown in color.
While these ingredients are completely optional, adding them to your Channa Masala gives it a nice lift in terms of flavor, taste and color. I highly recommend adding either one.
- You can use the same curry base but substitute the chickpeas with black-eyed peas or any hydrated beans you have on hand.
- Add a splash of coconut milk after the curry is done for a creamy Chana masala with coconut milk. Not a fan of coconut milk? Then, try cashew cream instead!
How to soak chickpeas
or pretty much any beans? The process of soaking or hydrating beans is very simple. First, place your dried beans in a colander. Wash them well once or twice under running water.
Place the washed beans in a large mixing bowl. For every cup of dried beans, add 2 to 3 cups water. Some beans absorb more water while some, less. Typically, garbanzo or chickpeas absorb more water and double in volume after soaking for 6 to 8 hours.
So, make sure to give a lot of space for them to hydrate and swell up. I prefer using a 5 quart mixing bowl if I m making a big batch. You can even use the inner pot of the Instant Pot to soak your beans.
If the beans are smaller, they take lesser time to hydrate. Chickpeas take anywhere between 6 to 8 hours. 8 hours of soaking later, 500g of dried chickpeas (approximately 3 cups) measured 6.5 cups.
Drain the soaked chickpeas well and wash them under running water once before cooking.
It is normal to find a foamy layer on top of the water that you use for soaking the beans. Please do not panic. This indicates that the water needs to be changed. Simply drain all the water and add fresh water again.
Canned chickpeas for Chana Masala
Wondering whether you can use canned chickpeas in this curry? Absolutely! Make sure you drain the chickpeas well using a colander. Wash them well under running water. Reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes in the Instant Pot and do a natural pressure release.
Storage, freezing and shelf life
When stored in a fridge-safe container, this keeps well in the fridge for 3 days. You can also freeze Chana Masala. Once the curry is cooked, allow it to cool down fully. Divide into 2 cup portions and freeze in individual freezer-safe containers or Ziploc containers.
To thaw, allow the frozen Chana Masala to sit in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours or on the counter for 1 hour. When it thaws fully, transfer to a sauce pan and simmer on low heat until warm.
Never refreeze thawed food. This is not recommended at any cost.
- Add some peeled and cubed potatoes while cooking. You will have delicious Aloo Chana Masala.
- Substitute the chickpeas with any other hydrated bean. You can try pinto beans, black-eyed peas or navy beans.
- This recipe uses chickpeas that have been hydrated for 8 hours. In case you had time to hydrate them for only 4 to 6 hours, use the BEAN/CHILI MODE to cook this curry. Wait for NPR after the cooking cycle is complete. The default settings in the BEAN/CHILI mode is 30 minutes on HIGH PRESSURE.
- I will not recommend cooking any bean based curry without soaking the dried beans. If you are in a hurry or have forgotten to soak the chickpeas in advance, then wash the chickpeas and soak them in very hot water for 1.5 hours. During this time, make sure to keep the pot tightly closed to prevent heat from escaping. The hot water expedites the soaking/hydrating process. I use a insulated box when I do this method of soaking and highly recommend it.
- Using dried Amla or Anardana powder is optional but highly recommended. If you cannot source either, skip them and just add the ground spices mentioned. Or you can use 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala or Pani Puri Masala. Both these are spice blends that are easily available in most Indian grocery stores.
- You can easily double this recipe. If and when you double the recipe, the cooking time remains the same. This is because the Instant Pot adjusts the time it takes to build pressure. Just make sure to not fill the Instant pot past the fill line.
Place the chickpeas in a colander. Wash well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add 6 cups water and allow this to hydrate for 6 to 8 hours. I prefer doing this overnight.
Making Channa Masala in Instant Pot
Once the chickpeas are hydrated, you can see that they have almost doubled in volume. 500g of raw dried chickpeas becomes 950g after it soaks in water for 8 hours, literally double the weight. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and wash once.
Instant Pot Cooking and Mode
Place the inner pot into the Instant Pot. Plug in and select SAUTE MODE- NORMAL- 9 Minutes. When the display reads hot, add oil. Now, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and green chili. When the whole spices pop, tip in the ginger and garlic.
Mix well and wait for the garlic to begin browning. Now, add the finely chopped onions and mix well. Add salt and the ground spices (ground coriander, paprika, garam masala, ground cumin). Stir to combine and allow to cook for 30 secs.
Once done, add the finely chopped tomatoes and stir well. Cook the mixture till tomatoes break down and become mushy. When done, add the drained hydrated chickpeas, 2 cups water and the dried Amla.
Press CANCEL. Ensure that the sealing ring has been fitted properly into the lid. Turn VALVE to SEALING. Now, select PRESSURE COOK MODE- HIGH PRESSURE- 15 MINUTES. Allow the cooking cycle to complete.
When the cooking cycle completes, wait for the pressure to release naturally. It takes around 25 minutes for natural pressure release. This time may vary depending on where you live and the weather.
Once pressure releases, open and gently mash the chickpeas once or twice using a potato masher. Now, select SAUTE MODE- NORMAL- 3 MINS. Allow the curry to simmer for this set time. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. Stir to combine and serve hot with lemon wedges and onions.
More Instant Pot Curry Recipes
Instant Pot Chana Masala
- Instant Pot
- Potato masher
- 2 cups Dried chickpeas
- 6 cups water
For the Chana Masala
- 1.5 tablespoon Oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- ½ inch cinnamon stick
- 2- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 Serrano chili scored lengthwise
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1.5 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander Dhania powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin Jeera powder
- 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
- 1.5 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon Salt or to taste
- 1.25 teaspoon dried Amla (dehydrated Indian Gooseberry)
- 4 cups soaked chickpeas Please read blog post for more information
- 2 cups water
- 3 to 4 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- Place the chickpeas in a colander.
- Wash well.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add 6 cups water and allow this to hydrate for 6 to 8 hours.
- Making Channa Masala in Instant Pot
- Once the chickpeas are hydrated, drain the chickpeas in a colander and wash once.
Instant Pot Cooking and Mode
- Place the inner pot into the Instant Pot.
- Plug in and select SAUTE MODE- NORMAL- 9 Minutes.
- When the display reads hot, add oil. Now, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and green chili.
- When the whole spices pop, tip in the ginger and garlic.
- Mix well and wait for the garlic to begin browning.
- Now, add the finely chopped onions and mix well.
- Add salt and the ground spices.
- Stir to combine and allow to cook for 30 secs.
- Once done, add the finely chopped tomatoes and stir well.
- Cook the mixture till tomatoes break down and become mushy.
- When done, add the drained hydrated chickpeas, 2 cups water and the dried Amla.
- Press CANCEL. Ensure that the sealing ring has been fitted properly into the lid.
- Turn VALVE to SEALING. Now, select PRESSURE COOK MODE- HIGH PRESSURE- 15 MINUTES.
- Allow the cooking cycle to complete.
- When the cooking cycle completes, wait for the pressure to release naturally.
- Once pressure releases, open and gently mash the chickpeas once or twice using a potato masher.
- Now, select SAUTE MODE- NORMAL- 3 MINS.
- Allow the curry to simmer for this set time.
- Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
- Stir to combine and serve hot with lemon wedges and onions.
If you are looking for a Chickpeas curry not made in the Instant Pot, then check out our Punjabi Chole recipe.
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