If you love Indian food, Instant Pot Chana Masala recipe is a must make! This vegetarian chickpea stew is a classic; packed with low calorie plant-protein and soul-warming earthy spices. Only 4 minutes cooking time!
This staple of Northern India cuisine is nutritious, delicious, as well as fast and easy to make. Great for a satisfying main dish and for meal prepping too. The simple ingredients are inexpensive as well.
This easy recipe is a favorite of Instant Pot recipes for it's vibrant flavors and healthy satisfying ingredients.
What is Chana Masala?
Chana Masala is a vegetarian chickpea stew flavored by garam masala, onion, garlic, ginger and other spices.
'Chana' means chickpeas and ‘masala’ is a an Indian term meaning to mix together multiple ground spices. Like many traditional recipes Chana Masala varies family to family, most often using a homemade Chana Masala spice blend. You might find turmeric, chile peppers or chili powder for a spicy flavor.
An authentic recipe for Chana Masala uses spices like fenugreek and dry mango powder (amchur powder) are hard to find at many grocery stores. Our shortcut version is full of earthy spices that you will easily find at your local grocery store.
What makes this skinny?
Chickpeas are known as a 'complete protein' meaning they have all the 9 amino acids to make up a full protein (many plant protein sources are not a complete protein).
This makes them a great alternative to animal protein with fewer calories and fat. Protein keeps you full longer too.
Chickpeas are high in fiber containing almost half the daily recommended fiber amount for adults (this will help keep you full and 'regular'). They are also low on the glycemic index meaning they will not spike blood sugar in the way other food can.
The other ingredients are lower calorie spices, vegetables and one 1 tablespoon of oil is used (which is less than 1 teaspoon per serving).
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Olive oil. Used for sautéing the onions and garlic.
Yellow onion. Use 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped. Red onion could also be substituted.
Ginger. You'll use fresh ginger root peeled and grated (easy with a box grater or microplane).
Spices. The spices are the main event in a dish like chana masala. In the traditional version there are additional spices making up the full chana masala spice blend. This is a shortcut version using garam masala, ground cumin (instead of cumin seeds) and coriander. These distinct flavors are a subset of the traditional blend and make this dish delicious! They can all be found at regular grocery stores.
Chickpeas. Also called garbanzo beans. Instead of soaked chickpeas or dry chickpeas, you'll use 1 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed. Using canned chickpeas speeds up the process by not requiring soaking time for dry chickpeas.
Diced tomatoes. You'll use 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes (instead of fresh tomatoes). They can be regular or petite diced (my favorite if you prefer smaller tomato pieces). Do not choose a version with spices included (e.g. Italian). We use this instead of tomato puree.
Vegetable broth. Instead of water we used vegetable broth which adds more flavor.
How to make Instant Pot Chana Masala - Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Sauté
Select the SAUTE mode and add the oil to the Instant Pot. When it's hot add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened (photo 1).
Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 1 additional minute.
STEP 2. Deglaze
Add the vegetable broth and scrape off any browned bits of food sticking to the bottom. Turn off the SAUTE function.
NOTE: deglazing (removing any stuck food bits with liquid and scraping) is critical especially with newer Instant Pot models which will register a burn warning during the pressure cooker cycle when any food is sticking to the insert.
STEP 3. Pressure cook
Stir in the garam masala, cumin powder and coriander, and salt (photo 2). Add the chickpeas and diced tomatoes; stir to mix in (photo 3).
Secure the lid and place pressure valve in the SEALING position. Cook on Pressure Cook-Manual (normal) for 15 minutes.
When cooking cycle has completed perform a QUICK RELEASE to release the pressure (photo 4).
STEP 4. Serve
Serve with cauliflower rice or regular rice. Garnish with torn cilantro.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften.
- Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté 30-60 seconds.
- Add the spices, tomatoes and chickpeas. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes until the chickpeas have softened.
Add some turmeric powder. Bon Appeit describes turmeric's flavor as "overwhelmingly earthy and bitter, almost musky, with a bit of peppery spice". You'd know it from its vibrant yellow color. Add a teaspoon with the other spices for an authentic flavor.
Make it spicy. Add 1 serrano pepper (seeds removed), diced, when sautéing the garlic and ginger to add some spice. You can also add ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. If you can find Indian red chili powder that can also be used.
Crushed tomatoes. You can substitute these instead of diced tomatoes for a smoother consistency.
How to Store
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.