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The BEST Instant Pot Chana Masala

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Every bite of this delicious chana masala is a flavorful masterpiece! Dried Chickpeas are soaked and stewed to perfection in a warm tomato puree with rich traditional Indian flavors of ginger, turmeric, and garam masala that are sure to make a lasting impression on your tastebuds.

Bowl of rice and chana masala with stack of naan.

The thought of making an authentic Indian dish can be a bit intimidating, to begin with, but it shouldn’t be. Once you start looking through the recipe, you will find it’s pretty simple. In fact, most ingredients can be found in your pantry or at the local supermarket.

Chana masala, also known as chole masala, is a savory Indian dish full of fragrant spices. It is believed to have originated in Northern India and has become one of the most popular Indian dishes around the world. Broken down, “Chana” means chickpeas, and “masala”  refers to the unique blend of spices typically used in Indian cuisine.

As the days get shorter and the nights become colder, we are always looking for hearty go-to dinner options that are warm, satisfying, and not too difficult to make. One-pot recipes check all those boxes and have quickly become a favorite around this time of year.

Why You’ll Like This Chana Masala

  • It’s the perfect balance of spice, tang, and sweetness
  • This Chana masala is a one-pot recipe that makes clean-up a breeze – that’s always a win my book
  • Aromas of fragrant herbs and spices will have you feeling warm and cozy before the first bite
  • It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, a well-known authority when it comes to recipes

What You Need To Make This Chana Masala Recipe

  • Dried chickpeas
  • Peeled ginger
  • Garlic cloves 
  • Serrano chiles
  • Whole peeled tomatoes 
  • Canola oil 
  • Paprika 
  • Salt
  • Ground cumin 
  • Ground turmeric 
  • Fennel seeds 
  • Garam masala
  • Small red onion 
  • Fresh cilantro
Tomatoes, chickpeas, spices, onions, cilantro, serrano, and garam masala in bowls.

Equipment Needed

  • Large container
  • Food processor
  • Instant Pot or pressure cooker
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Serving bowl
  • Serving spoons

See the recipe card for quantities.

Instructions 

1. Dissolve 1 ½ tablespoons salt in 2 quarts of cold water in a large container. Add chickpeas and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Process coarsely chopped onion, cilantro stems, ginger, garlic, and half of the serranos in a food processor, until finely chopped, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary, about 20 seconds; transfer to a bowl.

Onions, ginger, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor.

Process tomatoes and their juice in the now-empty processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. 

Whole tomatoes in a food processor.

3. Using the saute function, heat oil in the Instant Pot until shimmering. Add onion mixture and cook until softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, salt, turmeric, and fennel seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 3 cups water, chickpeas, and processed tomatoes. 

4. Lock lid into place and close pressure-release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove the lid, allowing steam to escape away from you. 

5. Stir garam masala into chickpea mixture and continue to cook, using highest saute function, until sauce is thickened, 8 to 12 minutes. Season chickpea mixture with salt to taste. Transfer to a wide, shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with finely chopped onion, remaining serranos, and cilantro leaves. Serve.

Scoop of chana masala in a black ladle.

Storage 

In an airtight container, pressure cooker chana masala can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. If you plan on making a big batch ahead of time, simply store individual airtight containers in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to reheat, let thaw, and pop in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, but if you are anything like me and don’t have patience for things to thaw out,  reheat on the stovetop.

Tips

If you haven’t preplanned your meals for the week and need to speed up the soaking process of the dried chickpeas, simply add chickpeas to a saucepan, cover them with an inch of cold water, and bring to a boil for a minute. Remove the chickpeas from the heat and let sit covered for 1 hour. Drain and follow the rest of the recipe.

What To Serve/Pair With Your Chana Masala

One-pot chana masala goes perfectly with steamed basmati rice and a traditional Indian flatbread such as poori, roti, or naan. Riced cauliflower or jasmine rice make excellent options as well.

FAQs

Can I thicken my chickpea stew?

Yes, add one tablespoon of cornstarch to 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl and stir. Once combined, pour the mixture into your stew and simmer until the sauce thickens.

Is chana masala vegan?

Yes! Chana masala is vegan and gluten-free. It is a great dish for potlucks when you don’t know the dietary needs of everyone.

Would this recipe work on a stovetop pot, too?

Yes, cooking on the stovetop will work just as well. Cooking times will be a little longer, but it is a great option if you don’t have an instant pot or pressure cooker.

Can I use something besides a serrano chile?

Yes. Jalapeno peppers or green chiles can be used if you don’t have serrano chiles on hand.

Can I make chana masala creamier?

Yes, if you like a creamier texture to your chickpea stew, all you need to do is slowly add coconut milk until you get the creaminess you desire

Bowl of rice and chana masala with stack of naan.

Chana Masala

This vegetarian dish is made with chickpeas or garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, and garam masala. It's vegetarian and vegan-friendly, making it a great meatless dinner option that packs in antioxidants
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Brining: 8 hours 35 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 343kcal

Equipment

  • Pressure cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt for brining
  • 8 ounces dried chickpeas picked over and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion three-quarters chopped coarse, one-quarter chopped fine
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro stems and leaves separated, stems cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 ½ inch ginger peeled and chopped coarse
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped coarse
  • 2 serrano chiles stemmed, halved, seeded, and sliced thin crosswise, divided
  • 14.5 ounce whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garam masala

Instructions

  • Dissolve 1 ½ tablespoons salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Add chickpeas and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  • Process coarsely chopped onion, cilantro stems, ginger, garlic, and half of serranos in food processor, until finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, about 20 seconds; transfer to bowl. Process tomatoes and their juice in now-empty processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Using highest saute function, heat oil in Instant Pot until shimmering. Add onion mixture and cook until softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, salt, turmeric, and fennel seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 3 cups water, chickpeas, and processed tomatoes.
  • Lock lid into place and close pressure-release valve. Select high pressure-cook function and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off Instant Pot and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
  • Stir garam masala into chickpea mixture and continue to cook, using highest saute function, until sauce is thickened, 8 to 12 minutes. Season chickpea mixture with salt to taste. Transfer to wide, shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with finely chopped onion, remaining serranos, and cilantro leaves. Serve.

Notes

Recipe reprinted with permission from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy & Delicious Instant Pot: Inspired Meals With a World of Flavor, copyright 2021.
 
If you haven’t preplanned your meals for the week and need to speed up the soaking process of the dried chickpeas, simply add chickpeas to a saucepan, cover them with an inch of cold water, and bring to a boil for a minute. Remove the chickpeas from the heat and let sit covered for 1 hour. Drain and follow the rest of the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3364mg | Potassium: 816mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 815IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 5mg
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This instant pot chana masala is the perfect comfort food on busy days. It’s a mouthwatering dinner staple that friends and family will ask for time and time again.

Bowl of chana masala, bowl of rice, and stack of naan.

America’s Test Kitchen’s Healthy & Delicious Instant Pot Cookbook

America's Test Kitchen's Healthy and Delicious Instant Pot Cookbook.

With the Instant Pot, you can cook healthy food like never before. The automation and versatility of this appliance make it an excellent choice for those who want to eat well but may not have enough time in their busy weekdays or holiday seasons–or both!

America’s Test Kitchen has developed hundreds of nutritious Instant Pot recipes, making sure to tweak details here and there for each model. The key lies in using the right portions; employing a few basic strategies that you can use for plenty more healthy meals going forward!–and keeping them as flavorful!

Healthy & Delicious Instant Pot is a cookbook that will have your taste buds asking for more! America’s Test Kitchen’s most comprehensive collection of healthy and delicious meals made with the latest in kitchen appliances, this book features 75 internationally inspired dishes. From Javaher Polo to Shrimp Jambalaya or even Ginger Ramen noodles – there is something here sure to please everyone at any time of day (or night).

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times, the only difference was I used a chipotle chili, it was all I had. This makes a perfect breakfast on a cold morning. I freeze it in one cup portions and microwave it ever I need a warming filling meal. Spices are spot on.

    1. Thanks for coming back to share your experience with the recipe. I am delighted that you are enjoying it. (I will have to try it for breakfast now.)

  2. 5 stars
    Yummy! I’m always looking for vegetarian recipes for my Instant Pot. Meat has gotten so expensive and honestly, it’s better for us to consume in moderation anyway.

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