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 Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
5 from 31 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 31 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
Keyword: chana masala, crispy chickpeas, gluten-free, indian recipes, instant pot, nut-free, soy-free
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.

Vegan Chana Masala (Stove-Top Method)

5 from 33 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.

How to cook dried chickpeas on the stove

5 from 25 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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33 comments on Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

  1. Tina Nguyen

    5 stars
    So good!! I subbed the can of tomatoes for tomato paste and extra water. Ended up watery but still so delicious!! The one Serrano pepper with half its seeds and 1/2 tsp Indian red chili powder gave it such a spicy kick but nothing I couldn’t handle!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Tina, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  2. Vanessa Ruiz

    Lawd! I love you recipes. Just made this one and it was golden! I like mild spicy… very sensitive to spicy so I always have to be careful. I used half of a Serrano pepper and it was just the perfect amount for my tolerance. I did not get the gravy thick texture (unsure why), so it turned out to be somewhat of a soup but I did not mind at all. It was delicious !! Thank you so much !

  3. Coleman

    I am very excited to try this recipe as I love Chana Masala. Can I make this recipe using dried chick peas (no soaking)? I guess the cook time would have to be increased, but I was hoping I could use dried beans.

    Thanks

  4. Yelena

    5 stars
    This is amazing! Love this and all of your recipes. Thank you for sharing!

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