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An authentic recipe for Chana Masala using dry or canned chickpeas that can be made in an Instant pot or on the stovetop. Easy and flavorful, vegan-adaptable! With a video!
Chana Masala is a classic Indian stew typically made with spiced chickpeas., tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. Served with basmati rice and naan, it becomes a hearty vegetarian meal.
This version takes advantage of the instant pot, especially if wanting to use dry chickpeas, it turns out great and is fast and easy. But feel free to use canned chickpeas if that’s what is on hand. Either way, this quick and easy vegetarian dinner recipe is full of delicious Indian flavors!
What is Chana Masala?
Chana Masala is an Indian-Style Chickpea dish often served with basmati rice, or naan. Chana Masala is Hindi for “Spiced Chickpeas”.(Chana translates to chickpeas and masala translates to spice.) If you are wondering what the difference is between Chana Masala and Tikka Masala, Tikka usually refers to “meat”- so spiced meat dish. Get it? 😉
Watch how to make Chana Masala | Video
Can you make Chana Masala Vegan?
- Of course! BUT I really hesitate because it is the use of ghee that gives this Chana Masala its amazing flavor! That being said, do as you please. Sub coconut oil, or olive oil. 🙂
Can you make Chana Masala in an Instant Pot?
- YES absolutely- especially if using dry chickpeas. Dry chickpeas will either need to be soaked or pre-cooked in the instant pot for a few minutes. It’s easy!
Chana Masala starts with a fragrant mix of spices. Remember, masala means “spice”.
What are Chana Masala Spices?
Chana Masala actually varies greatly in India depending on the area, and even down to the specific household. Each blend is unique. And that is what makes this fun! Here is my favorite blend, but please adapt it to your own tastes!
- cumin seeds (whole)
- garam masala
- ground cumin
- ground coriander
- fennel seeds
- paprika (or chili powder)
- dried fenugreek leaves
- ground turmeric
Saute the whole spices in ghee, then add the onions, garlic and chili.
TIP: Ghee brings this to another level.
Then add the ground spices… and saute, which will give the final dish delicious depth!
Then add the fresh tomatoes, water, soaked chickpeas and bay leaves, and season with salt. Let this pressure cook for 40 minutes.
TIP: For some reason, using fresh tomatoes tastes way better than canned.
Serve this with pickled onions and cilantro, with basmati rice and/ or naan bread.
Or for something different, serve it atop a baked sweet potato! So yummy!
So play around with this, and see how you like it best. The leftovers can also be frozen!
Hope you enjoy the Chana Masala and let us know how you like it in the comments below!
More recipes you may like:
- Emerald Dal
- Palak Paneer (Paneer in Fragrant Spinach Sauce)
- How to Cook FLUFFY Basmati Rice!
- Easy Homemade Naan Bread!
- Raita Recipe
- Pickled Red Onions
- Cilantro Mint Chutney Recipe
Chana Masala (Instant Pot or Stovetop)
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 60 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- Category: Vegan, Main
- Method: Instant pot, stove top
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegetarian
An authentic Chana Masala Recipe that can be made in an Instant pot or on the stovetop. A quick and easy Vegetarian dinner recipe that is full of amazing Indian flavor!
- 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, (soaked in water 12-24 hours or see notes) or sub 4-5 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
- 2–3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil. (GHEE elevates this to the next level of goodness!!!)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (whole)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 large shallots ( or sub one large onion)
- 4 fat garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1/2 –1 jalapeno or 1 serrano chili, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced (and their juices) or 14-ounce can tomato puree, (although fresh tastes better here)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (taste, use more if dry chickpeas, less if canned)
- 2 cups water if using dry, soaked chickpeas (or 1/2 cup water if using if canned or fully cooked chickpeas)
- 1–2 teaspoons honey or sugar if needed
Serve over Basmati Rice or with naan bread! Serve with pickled onions, and raita.
- If using dry beans, soak chickpeas in a bowl with 6 cups water, for 8-12 hours on counter, or up to 24 hours in the fridge. Drain. (See notes for quick instant pot “soak”)
- Set Instant pot to Saute function. (See notes for stovetop.)Heat ghee and add whole bay leaves and cumin seeds and fennel seeds stirring 2-3 minutes until fragrant and golden.
- Add shallots (or onions) Saute until golden and fragrant, stirring often. Add garlic, ginger and diced chili, saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add all the spices- garam masala, ground cumin, coriander, chili powder, fenugreek, turmeric.
- Give a stir then add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits.
- Once the tomatoes start to break down add the water (if using dry chickpeas), salt, and drained chickpeas. Give a good stir, scraping up any browned bits ( to prevent burn error).
- Set Instant to High Pressure for 25 minutes. (SEE NOTES!!!) Naturally, release for 15 minutes then manually release.
- Taste and adjust salt. If it tastes bitter, add a little sugar or honey ( 1-2 teaspoons) to help balance.
- If you want it more flavorful, stir in another teaspoon of garam masala, or if you want extra richness, a splash of coconut milk is nice.
Instant Pot Cooking Times:
- If using soaked chickpeas (12-hour soaking method-my prefered method), pressure cook Chana Masala for 25 minutes.
- If using unsoaked chickpeas (which I really don’t recommend) pressure cook Chana Masala on high for 55 minutes. Naturally release. (Be aware, they may not cook evenly- especially if they are older beans)
How to “pre-soak” chickpeas in the Instant pot: place 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas, 4 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set to High pressure for 15 minutes. Manual or natural release. Drain, set chickpeas aside and wipe out the Instant Pot. Follow the recipe and pressure cook the chana masala for 40 minutes.
If using canned chickpeas, set instant pot to 6 minutes, add only 1/2 cup water, manually release.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat ghee and add whole bay leaves and cumin seeds and fennel seeds stirring 1-2 minutes until fragrant and golden. Add onions. Saute 5-7 minutes until golden, lowering the heat to medium. You really want these to deeply caramelize so they add a nice sweetness. Add garlic, ginger and diced chili, saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add all the spices- garam masala, ground cumin, coriander, chili powder, fenugreek, turmeric.
- Give a stir then add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Once the tomatoes start to break down add the water, salt, and dry, soaked chickpeas. Give a good stir, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer gently until chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. If it tastes bitter, add a little sugar or honey to balance.
- *Or, make this on the stovetop with canned chickpeas, following the same directions, only adding 1/4- 1/2 cup water, simmering on low, for 10-15 minutes.
***Remember dry chickpeas will need more salt, canned chickpeas perhaps less salt.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 318
- Sugar: 9.4 g
- Sodium: 423 mg
- Fat: 8.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 48 g
- Fiber: 9.8 g
- Protein: 14.9 g
- Cholesterol: 10.2 mg
Keywords: Instant Pot Chana Masala, Chana Masala recipe in an instant pot, authentic Chana Masala recipe, Chana Masala recipe
Oh my! This was SO delicious. We had it a few days later and the flavors marinated beautifully. Thank you for making me feel like such a talented cook with all of your recipes!
Thanks Ana! Glad this worked for you!
This was so fun to make and very tasty. Loved all the various herbs and spices. We had it with basmati rice and Naan. Also made the raita, which was very lovely. My husband and I highly recommend this meal. You won’t miss the meat!
Thanks so much! Appreciate this!
Could go less on spice and use tomatoe paste
Thanks for the feedback Ali!
Ooops – I forgot to rate it. 5+ stars!
I LOVE this recipe for many reasons. It is absolutely delicious and the house smells so good while it is cooking! My family loves it. It is also one of those pantry recipes that are wonderful for a day that I need to put something together without a trip to the store, because I usually have all the ingredients on hand. If I don’t have fresh ginger, I have reconstituted dried ginger and it was fine. (probably not as good as fresh of course but still yummy.) I also used 1/4 tsp powdered Fenugreek rather than the dried leaves as I can never find the leaves, and it worked fine as well. And finally, the instant pot makes it cook up in a flash! A win all around. Thank you, Sylvia, for this terrific recipe
Love it Jan, so happy you enjoyed!
Very tasty, as usual, Sylvia (and Tonya). I made this stovetop, as I don’t have an Instant Pot. I halved the recipe, as I was just cooking for myself. I used canned chickpeas, as I find them easier to digest, tastier, and easier. I used a fresh tomato. I left out the fenugreek, as I had none (and can’t find it anywhere lately). Also, I added a little too much water, but it didn’t matter. The recipe was very forgiving. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. I was out of rice and had no naan, so I served this over quinoa. Delicious! Amazing how many good things one can make from a humble, inexpensive can of chickpeas.
Glad you enjoyed this!
Adding this to my regular work lunch rotation. Leftovers keep really well.
Take note, fenugreek leaves are the real difference-maker here. Usually my curries taste like poor imitations of what I order in south-Asian restaurants. But this spice takes me there.
I was first introduced to fenugreek leaves from the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from this site. That one is also a winner.
Thanks Edward- I agree, the fenugreek leaves elevate these dishes so much. Worth seeking out!
I made this with dry chickpeas pre-soaked in the instant pot. It came out well — beans were fully cooked and the spice profile was tasty.
Next time, I’ll halve the water (sauce was a little too soupy for my taste) and double the fresh tomatoes (the tomatoes cooked down a lot and I was wanting more in the dish).
Served up with naan to make it quick and easy, but basmati rice would be fine too.
Thanks for your notes Barbara – appreciated and helpful!
It is delicious, and easy. The timings for adding things are very helpful. I added a little tomato puree too.
Great Lucy, so glad you enjoyed!
Delicious! Perfect thing to make if you have a bunch of canned chickpeas.
Glad you enjoyed Susie!