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 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 5 minutes
5 from 125 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 :)

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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 125 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 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
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 104 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
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 90 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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4.95 from 125 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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169 comments on Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

  1. Rachele

    Hi! I want to try this recipe but I’m a bit confused about the amount of chickpeas I have to use. The recipe lists 3 (440g) cans of chickpeas, which I assume is the weight of the can not yet drained and rinsed. In my country the cans contain 360g, which are 230g of drained chickpeas, so the can measurements really confuse me. Could you please tell me the weight in grams of the already cooked chickpeas I have to use for this recipe? Thank you

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Rachele, the weights are the weights listed on the can, not just the weight of the chickpeas. Here, in the US, a standard can of chickpeas weighs between 425 and 440g, but the amount of chickpeas inside is lower, probably closer to 250g, so you would want to use about 750g of cooked chickpeas.

  2. Amber

    5 stars
    Delicious but I followed this to a T, only doubled it, and I didn’t get a gravy like consistency. It was more soupy. Can you point me where I might have went wrong? I did natural release for 30 minutes before quick release. Drained, canned chickpeas.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Amber, I am guessing that doubling the recipe could be the culprit, as sometimes you don’t need the full amount of liquid doubled. The next time you try this, you can use 25% less broth. You can also rapidly simmer the chana masala after it’s done to boil off some liquid. Hope that helps!

  3. Jonathan

    5 stars
    I’ve made this several times and it is delicious.Thank you! Just the other day someone told me there was a difference between indian bay leaves and “standard” bay leaves after looking at the video I looks like indian bay leaf is that correct and does it make a difference? Thanks again.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha:

      “Yes! They are distinct. That said, I use what I have on hand (sometimes I have Indian bay leaves, AKA tej patta, so I use them in my Indian recipes; other times, I do not, and I use regular bay leaves. I’ve served Indian dishes to my parents with regular bay leaves and they have not even noticed a difference, so I don’t think it matters too much. If you want to seek out tej patta, it’s a fun experiment to smell and compare the differences, but if you have regular bay leaves and want to use those, that’s fine too.”

  4. Jessie Jean

    5 stars
    Followed the soaked overnight garbanzo bean instant pot recipe to a T with a 10 min natural release. I was a little nervous thinking I might get a burn notice on the instant pot with only 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, but it turned out delicious. Great flavor, and perfect texture. This one is a keeper; Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Jessie. Thank you for leaving a review!

  5. Dia

    5 stars
    I just made this tonight and it turned out a-ma-zing! I made it using dry chickpeas soaked overnight, and the recommended 35 min cooking time was so perfect! I didn’t do natural release for too long, only about 5 minutes, but the chickpeas were already very soft. The spicing and the flavors are just incredible. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! :)

  6. Clara Maria

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe yesterday with a friend of mine. We both really loved the result and the preparation was very simple. The cooking time of 35min for the chickpeas was also perfect (we did a natural pressure release for 17min and then a quick pressure release). Thank you! <3

  7. DChu

    5 stars
    Loved this dish, both the preparation and the eating!

  8. Zipporah

    5 stars
    Hi! I want to make this for a dinner this weekend, but I need to double the amount. Will it fit in a six quart instant pot doubled?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Zipporah, sorry we didn’t answer it in time! Did you try it out?

      1. Zipporah

        No, I didn’t 😞 I didn’t wana risk that many unknowns when cooking for a group of people. I still plan on trying this in the future!

  9. Kay Bee

    5 stars
    This is the best homemade Chana masala I have found! Thank you for the excellent recipe and the helpful video. We will definitely be making this one again!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Kay, Thank you so much for such a fantastic review! Appreciate you taking the time!

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