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

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!

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

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!

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

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.

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

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

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 5 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
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 3 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
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 3 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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23 comments on Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala

  1. Rgsksarah@gmail.com

    This is a really delicious curry. I’m looking forward to seeing how it tastes tomorrow as well! I also got your book pre-ordered. Really looking forward to it. Would you please do more Indian food recipes?

  2. Becky

    I made this tonight – it was delicious. A little spicy for me but the flavours are wonderful!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Becky! Thank you for your feedback and I’m happy you enjoyed it! I’ve updated the blog post with a note about tailoring it to your spice level so hopefully that helps :)

  3. Jordan

    This was the first meal I made in my Instant Pot and I’m so happy with how it turned out. Such a delicious homemade curry- I couldn’t believe I made it! Thank you so much for making this recipe with very obtainable ingredients. I’ll definitely be making this again and would love to see more Indian recipes made with the Instant Pot on your site. Thanks again, Nisha!

    1. Nisha Vora

      YAY! That’s so amazing to hear. Happy new instant pot – I hope you are loving it. I am really glad you loved this recipe, and I have about six more Indian Instant Pot recipes in my new cookbook if you are interested :)

      1. Jordan

        Might be time for me to consider your cookbook- I’ve made this at least once a week since we first tried it. And I’ve made your Red Lentil Curry twice now! I love the nutty flavor from the addition of the almond butter in that recipe. These make the best leftovers, too. Just wanted to thank you again for these very doable and very delicious recipes!

  4. Linda Gerace

    I made this from your cookbook today and it is DELICIOUS. I notice the recipe here is slightly different. I’m glad the cookbook calls for amchur powder, because I have it! This is the 2nd recipe I made from your cookbook… the first was the Red Lentil Almond Curry, and for some reason it didn’t do well… my IP kept saying "Burn." It was cooked enough to eat and tasted good, but I’m not sure why it said "Burn." Anyway, glad this Chana Masala came out… it was sooooo good. Can’t wait to try more of the recipes. Your cookbook is beautiful.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Linda! Thank you so much for stopping by and letting me know you loved it. The recipes are similar but the cookbook recipe includes amchur and uses dried chickpeas, as I find it to have a better texture and gravy.
      Sorry to hear that you had the burn notice issue with the red lentil curry. The one thing I can think of is, depending on the brand of almond butter you use, it can be too viscous for the Instant Pot (similar to how canned crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce is). I’ve never experienced the burn notification with this recipe, but that is my best guess. So if you make it in the future, try making the recipe as is but stirring in the almond butter at the end of the pressure cooking cycle. Hope that helps!

  5. Srav

    This is such a tasty recipe! it came together so easily and quickly- one of our favorite go-to meal prep dishes for our work week! Husband can’t get enough!

  6. Darlene

    I just started your 7 day vegan challenge and am excited! I didn’t have Soba noodles for the dinner, so I found this recipe and wanted to give it a go. Just opened the lid of my IP and had a taste!! Yummm!!! I did make one mistake – I didn’t pay close enough attention to the stated size of can for tomatoes, adding a large can in error :( It is very soupy. Soupy but delicious. I will definitely make this again, and remember it’s a small can of tomatoes!! I’ve purchased your book and can’t wait for it to arrive. I love the spices and flavours of Indian food and am hoping your book is full of recipes like this one! Can’t wait to try the red lentil curry!! Thank you Nisha!!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Darlene, I am so happy to hear you’re doing the challenge! The chana masala will thicken as it rests as well, but I am glad you found it to be delicious! Thank you so much for your support and I hope you will enjoy cooking from my book! There are 5-7 Indian recipes in the book, so happy cooking!

  7. Hannah

    I made this recipe for lunch today and it was so delicious! It was my first time using an Instant Pot and your instructions were super helpful! I will definitely be making it again — that is after my sister and I get through all of the leftovers! We both loved it! :) Thank you Nisha!

  8. seth.nyc@hotmail.com

    I just made this for lunch today and it came out sooo delicious. Thanks for the great recipe! I had thought I had black mustard seeds but couldn’t find them so I used yellow… and then found the black so I added them too. I also threw in a nice pinch of black cumin seeds. The rest was exactly as written. Super! I will be sharing this recipe with friends and family.

  9. Nick B.

    I just finished making this – so tasty. First time using the Instant Pot and wow, that was easy! Do you drain your canned tomatoes in this recipe? I ended up not draining, and it turned out little runny. Thanks!

  10. H

    I made this in the instant pot yesterday and it was fantastic. I’ve tried several chana masala recipes over the past few weeks and this one was by far the best. The pressure cooking made the tomatoes very sweet which is something I was never able to achieve with stovetop recipes. I loved how soft the chickpeas were and the spice blend was perfect. (I did add an extra serrano pepper and change all spoon measurements to "heaping".)

  11. Kelly-Anne

    AMAZING. I often find some vegan Indian recipes to lack complexity, but I am always pleasantly surprised at how flavorful and restaurant-like yours are! This one’s a keeper!

  12. Shuvya

    5 stars
    Better than any restaurant channa I’ve ever had! So flavorful and I love the almost sweet taste of it.

  13. Claire

    I’m a new instant pot owner and this looks delicious! When making it from soaked dry beans, is the 6qt instant pot full to the halfway mark, or is there room to multiply the recipe by 1.5 or 2? Thank you!

    1. Hi Claire, I’ve never doubled this recipe, but the instant pot inner pot should have a maximum capacity line that’s about halfway between the halfway mark and the rim of the pot. Hope that helps!

  14. Viswajith

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe, has become a staple in my household!

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