Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

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This vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala is packed with authentic Indian flavor and rivals any restaurant dish, but is easy and quick to make. Stovetop instructions included.
Prep 15 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 5 mins
5 from 84 votes

This Vegan Chana Masala is my favorite Indian dish, and I’m showing you how to make it easily using the Instant Pot. It’s packed with spices and depth of flavor, just like any good Indian dish! For the full walk-through the recipe and tips, check out the video on Youtube!

And if you want more than 90 incredible vegan Instant Pot recipes, be sure to order my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook!

Don’t have an Instant Pot? This blog post has stovetop instructions, too!

This is the easiest and best vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala recipe ever! It’s loaded with Indian spices and brimming with flavorful aromas. Its thick gravy-like consistency will remind you of restaurant-style chana masala. But it’s made in a fraction of the time and with minimal effort using the Instant Pot!

One of the things I love about this recipe (aside from its delicious taste) is that it’s made primarily with pantry ingredients. So, as long as you have some Indian spices in the pantry, you likely have most of the ingredients needed for this recipe!

Stovetop or Instant Pot

If you have an Instant Pot, I’d recommend making the Instant Pot version of this recipe. This recipe is also in my cookbook, if you have a copy :)

The high pressure of the Instant Pot thickens the gravy in a short period of time, which gives it the texture of an authentic Indian restaurant-style dish. It’s pretty difficult to achieve that same type of texture on the stovetop, but the stovetop version is still very delicious!

bowl of Indian chana masala framed by hands

Ingredient Rundown

As I mentioned above, this recipe is made with mostly pantry ingredients like onions, garlic, spices, and canned tomatoes.

There are a few ingredients that aren’t pantry ingredients: fresh ginger, serrano peppers (spicy green chili peppers), and cilantro (stirred in at the end). If you don’t have these ingredients or don’t want to buy them, feel free to omit them (though fresh ginger and cilantro add quite a bit to this recipe).

All of the spices used in this recipe are common Indian spices that you can find at most grocery stores, except black mustard seeds. If you don’t have them or can’t find them, you can use the more commonly available brown mustard seeds or omit them.

Dried Chickpeas vs. Canned Chickpeas

I have made this recipe many times with both dried chickpeas and cooked chickpeas, and both come out great.

If you are making the Instant Pot version, I recommend using dried chickpeas since you don’t have to go through the extra step of cooking them. You do need to soak the chickpeas, and the cook time is 35 minutes instead of 8 minutes, but I think the textural difference is worth it.

If you are making the stovetop version, it’s easiest to use canned chickpeas. If you use dried chickpeas, you’ll have to cook them from scratch. And while it’s really easy to cook chickpeas in the Instant Pot, if you have an Instant Pot…then you should just be making the Instant Pot version :)

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

Watch! How to make Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA | Instant Pot Indian Recipe
INSTANT POT CHANA MASALA | Instant Pot Indian Recipe

If you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

5 from 84 votes
This vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala is packed with authentic Indian flavor and rivals any restaurant dish, but is easy and quick to make. Stovetop instructions included.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 (15-ounce / 440g) cans of chickpeas OR 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dried chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or neutral cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced or grated ginger
  • 1-2 serrano peppers*, minced
  • 3 bay leaves

Ground Spices

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Indian red chili powder (use less for a less spicy version)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 (14.5-ounce / 410g) can diced or whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 mL) vegetable broth or water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • For serving: Basmati rice and/or Indian flatbread

Instructions

  • If you are using dried chickpeas, place them in a large bowl and soak in cold water overnight or for 8 hours. Drain, rinse, and set aside. If you are using canned chickpeas, open the cans, drain and rinse.
  • On the Instant Pot, select the Sauté setting. Add the oil and once it is shimmering, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. They might sputter a bit so stand back. After 30 seconds, add the diced onion and cook, stirring frequently until the onion starts to brown, 6-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, Serrano peppers, and bay leaves and stir to combine until garlic is golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the Ground Spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. You may need to add a tablespoon of water to prevent the mixture from drying out and/or burning.
  • Stir in the salt, canned tomatoes, canned or soaked dried chickpeas, and vegetable broth or water. Stir well to combine. Select the Cancel setting.
  • Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the Pressure Release valve to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting on the Instant Pot and set to high pressure for 8 minutes (for canned chickpeas) or 35 minutes (for soaked, dried chickpeas).
  • Once the timer is up, allow the Instant Pot to come to a natural pressure release. It should take 10-15 minutes.
  • Open the pot and stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, and season to taste. Serve over Basmati rice and/or with Indian flatbread.

Notes

* For a mild version, omit the seeds and membranes and use just one pepper (or use a jalapeño pepper). For a moderately spicy version, use 2 peppers and omit the seeds and membranes. For a spicy version, use two peppers and keep half or most of the seeds intact.

Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1286mg | Potassium: 570mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 462IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 4mg

Vegan Chana Masala (Stove-Top Method)

4.9 from 74 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 (15-ounce / 440g) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained; or 12 ounces (1½ cups / 340g) dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, or neutral cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds*
  • teaspoons cumin seeds**
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • tablespoons freshly grated or minced ginger (optional)***
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced, seeds and membranes removed (optional)***
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Ground Spices
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Indian red chili powder****
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce / 410g) can diced tomatoes*****
  • 1 (14.5-ounce / 410g) can crushed tomatoes*****
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup (120 mL) water, more or less as needed
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut sugar or cane sugar, as needed to balance the heat
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • For serving: Basmati rice and/or Indian flatbread

Instructions

  • If using dried chickpeas, see the Notes below.
  • Heat a large, deep nonstick frying pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir occasionally and toss the seeds around for 1-2 minutes, or until they start to jump in the pan and smell very aromatic.
  • Add the oil, and once it’s melted, add the diced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and start to turn golden, 6-8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until very aromatic, stirring frequently to prevent burning. If using ginger and serrano pepper, add with the garlic.
  • Add the bay leaves and Ground Spices, and stir into the onions for 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas and stir them around to coat in the spices. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turning only once after a few minutes, to allow them to get a bit browned and crispy.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, salt, and water. You’re looking for the texture of a thick stew (it should not be soupy). Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low or low to maintain a simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed if it appears too thick. The texture should get thicker and the liquid should mostly evaporate.
  • Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly, adding more salt as needed, or a bit of coconut sugar to balance the heat. Stir in lemon juice, and serve with rice. Leftovers stay good in an airtight container for up to 5 days; freeze for longer.

Notes

* If you don’t have black mustard seeds, you can sub brown mustard seeds or omit.
** If you don’t have cumin seeds, use 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cumin along with other ground spices.
*** I usually make my chana masala with these ingredients but omit them for the “strict pantry” version of this recipe. If you have them, use them. If you don’t, don’t :)
**** If you don’t have Indian red chili pepper, substitute with ¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
***** If using one (28-ounce / 795g ) can of diced tomatoes, you may not need to add any water, or use less. Otherwise, the texture will be too watery. If using one (28-ounce / 795g) can crushed tomatoes, you may need to add a bit more water.

Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 483mg | Potassium: 945mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 463IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 138mg | Iron: 6mg

How to cook dried chickpeas on the stove

4.9 from 63 votes

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces 1½ cups / 340g chickpeas
  • Water
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Instructions

  • Soak chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight or for 8 hours. Drain and rinse.
  • Add chickpeas to a large saucepan and add water to cover by 3 inches (8 cm).
  • Bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower to medium heat and simmer until just tender, about 1 hour. Add 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and simmer for 5 more minutes, or until tender.

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106 comments on Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

  1. Patricia S Paquette

    5 stars
    What’s the name of your favourite lentil that you love when your mom was making dahl?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Nisha says: “My favorite lentil for dal is moong dal (split yellow mung beans) or masoor dal (split red lentils).”

  2. Patricia

    5 stars
    First time making this in my Instant pot that I purchased to use with your cook book. It was Delish but didn’t finish like yours more watery and I used 1cup of vegetables broth … why? I’m thinking that the fact that the chickpea soak longer then 8 hours could be the reason, what do you think?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there! Glad you enjoyed but sorry to hear it was more watery than expected. I don’t think the fact that you soaked the chickpeas longer than 8 hours would be it, but I can’t say for sure. If you make it again, you can reduce the amount of liquid, or turn on the Saute setting after the pressure cooking and let the liquid boil for several minutes to cook down.

      1. Patricia

        5 stars
        Thanks for your reply. We will try again and follow exactly what you said.

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Of course, good luck Patricia!

  3. jonathan

    should i double the amount of spices in order to double the recipe?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jonathan, yep!

  4. Fredric Price

    5 stars
    This was my first Chana Masala. I’m new to cooking having just retired and I am taking over more and more from my wife, who is an excellent Indian cook. The Instant Pot did a great job. My only problem was the onion, garlic, pepper and dry spice mix got very dry, so I had to add a little water as recommended. The result was fantastic: great taste and perfect texture of the (canned) chickpeas. I’ll make this recipe again for company. Thanks for a great meal.

  5. Jessica Stephens

    5 stars
    Best channa masala I’ve ever made. Super flavorful and spicy- especially the next day after it’s been cooked. Perfect for fall or winter-soothing to stomach. I used one pound of dried chickpeas and it came out perfectly. Love how cost efficient this recipe is too- esp if you have all the seasonings. Even if you don’t, it’s worth making the investment because you’ll want to make this dish again. Excellent job Nisha!

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Jessica, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m so happy you enjoy it so much, I love it for all the same reasons!

  6. Jess

    5 stars
    I think I made this recipe at least 10 times already and it’s delicious every time! I’ve made it with fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes. Only thing I change is that I use less water (about 1 cup) otherwise it will be too watery. Thank you for this family favorite amazing recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Jess. Thanks for the feedback and for taking the time to review!

  7. Liz

    5 stars
    Hi Nisha, I made your recipe “word for word” and it turned out sensational! Even my adult son enjoyed it, and believe me when I say… that speaks volumes *grin*. I have a new Instant Pot, so I was eager to use it for this recipe (used canned chickpeas as that’s what I had on hand). Love the accompanying video too! Blessings to you.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Liz. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  8. Doria

    I love Nisha’s recipes. Can’t wait to make this. Any suggestions for a vegetable side dish. I need greens in my life.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Doria, we’re so delighted to hear you love the recipes! A side of turmeric cauliflower or steamed kale or spinach with lemon would be nice!

  9. Rachel

    5 stars
    Great recipe Nisha,
    I am Australian, of English heritage and love cooking and baking. I mostly eat as a pescatarian but love your vegan recipes. I also have a Crockpot express (the Australian original instant pot)
    When I first saw your you tube presentations, I watched them on TV so didn’t realise you have excellent notes and the full printable recipes available via phone/computer. These are so well written and easy to follow. Thank you. I now have a folder with my favourite recipes from rainbowplantlife!
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Rachel. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review! So wonderful you’ve found value in the recipes :)

  10. Kelly

    5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times, but this is the first time I was able to follow the recipe exactly as written (for the instant pot.) Each time, it’s been delicious, but this time it was amazing.

    The first time I made it, I didn’t have amchur powder (which is listed in the recipe in the cookbook.) I used lemon juice. I also only had a 3-quart instant pot. And I used canned chickpeas. I used amchur the next couple times and it was still great.

    The only issue is that it was really watery for some reason. Mine looked much more watery than the video. Then I learned that 3-quart IPs sometimes yield more watery recipes than 6-quart. Conveniently, a local discount store had 6-quart IPs on sale, so I bought one with this recipe in mind as one of the first things to make in it.

    I just tried it again in the 6-quart IP last night. I also used dried chickpeas instead of canned for the first time. It wasn’t too watery! It was perfect!

    Thanks, so much for all the wonderful recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Interesting to learn, Kelly! Thanks for the heads up on that, and we are glad to hear the recipe worked well for you the second time around! You are so welcome for all the recipes :)

  11. Zee

    Hello!

    I was wondering if you had any thoughts on cooking time for a halved recipe? Specifically for soaked dried chickpeas in the instant pot? Did you figure out timing via trial and error, or is there some table you go by elsewhere?

    Thanks!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Zee, cooking time should be the same for halved or doubled recipes in the IP :) Just make sure you’ve filled the IP with the minimum amount of liquid so you don’t get a burn warning!

  12. Maggie

    5 stars
    I loved this recipe the first time I made it and last weekend my brother visited (definitely not vegan) and he said it was one of his favourite meals ever, thank you for this delicious and easy recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Maggie, So glad to hear you two loved this recipe!

  13. Cynthia

    5 stars
    Tried the Instant Pot version! Definitely a keeper! =) =) =). Thank you for sharing this HOLY GRAIL CHANA MASALA recipe! I have tried countless recipes & always find them just kind of bland or lacking that special something. Making this was like finding true love. Don’t hesitate to make this, anyone. It is probably worth buying an IP if you don’t already have one, just to make this. It was incredibly easy, and the prep was fairly minimal for something so healthy. (I have a disability & have to limit standing & prep & if anyone else is in the camp with me- You can throw the peeled ginger, garlic & pepper in a magic bullet to mince & if it’s a paste, it turns out just fine. Love it with Rani’s tamarind paste. Also, I’m sure everything is good with the substitutions, but I feel like all the recipes here level up if you go ahead & get the black mustard seeds, the Indian red chili, etc. There is just something magical that happens when they all combine. (I don’t notice so much if I can’t find a Serrano pepper instead of a jalapeño, but if you’re on the fence, go for it! There are amazing recipes on this site that will help you use up your new spices. ;). If you can’t find them locally, Amazon has most).

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for the wonderful review, Cynthia! So great to hear you’re a fan of the recipe :)

  14. Natalie

    5 stars
    Another knock-out recipe to add to my rotation. It is so warm and comforting and I feel great knowing all the clean ingredients that go into it!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Natalie!

  15. Brock Jon

    5 stars
    Another winner. If I got this at a restaurant I’d have a difficult time ordering anything different during subsequent visits. It is SOOOO GOOD.

    This is the second recipe of yours I’ve tried that’s a total knockout. I just bought your cookbook. I look forward to trying the pho next.

    Thank you for sharing your talent!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Brock. Thanks for buying the cookbook and for taking the time to review :)

  16. Peter

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe so much! Thank you! :-)

    BTW if the Instant Pot-recipes for:
    Tofu Rogan Josh / Coy Curls Rogan Josh
    Tofu Vindaloo / Soy Curls Vindaloo
    Tofu Haiyali Curry / Curls Haiyali Curry

    – Would be in your next cookbook (or online) I would be most grateful. Have been missing these dishes since when I was traveling and ate them quite a lot… Recently I bought an Instant Pot and started to cook myself – I find it’s and amazing appliance…

    Best regards,
    Peter

    1. Peter

      I have to say that I understand fully if you don’t have time for this recipes. I will found another solution for them if that’s the case (it will work out). So I don’t think you have to spend to much time with this (if not particulary interested in these recipes yourself). Looking anyways forward for your new cookbook ahead!

    2. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Peter, the manuscript for the second cookbook has already been submitted but we’ll relay the message to Nisha!

  17. KJ

    5 stars
    This recipe is a home run!! Undoubtedly one of the BEST recipes I’ve made in a long while. We were both astounded by how delicious it is and found it to be equally as tasty as the chana masala from our local Indian restaurant. Thanks for sharing another outstanding dish!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, KJ!

  18. Emma-Jane Parry

    5 stars
    My boyfriend just bought us the Duo Crisp Instant Pot and we christened it with this recipe. I accidentally made it too spicy for me so I added some coconut milk. Oh my gosh, it’s absolutely delicious! Going to be loving off it for the week!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Emma-Jane!

  19. Sina

    What is Indian red chili powder? It sounds so general….is it a specific chili powder blend? Can I find it in an Indian grocery store?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sina, Indian red chili powder is made entirely from dried chile peppers, unlike standard grocery store chili powder, which is a blend of chilies and spices like oregano and cumin. You’ll typically find it in two primary forms at Indian grocery stores: (1) Kashmiri chili powder, gorgeously vibrant red and mild in heat; (2) the standard red chili powders (often labeled mirchi or lal mirch, Hindi for chili or red chili), which are spicy. We hope you get the chance to try this recipe!

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