This hearty curry is made of chickpeas, cooked in a delicious tomato-onion sauce, and served with basmati rice and naan. It is simple chana masala made with everyday Indian spices and all done in an instant pot or pressure cooker.
I like to make this during the week as a quick meal; it’s usually served just like it is in the picture with a side of naan bread. We really like Indian curry, and it’s always very simple to make a variety of dishes, so you can fulfill that Indian curry craving your family is having. If you have the time you can make your own naan bread simple to make and you will go back to your store-bought naan.
Table of Contents
What is chana masala?
Chana Masala is a protein and fiber packed wholesome dish in a spiced tomato-onion sauce called “masala” with chickpeas “chana” is one of the more popular Indian dishes in most restaurants.
Why you’ll love this Chana Masala
- You can use dried or canned chickpeas or garbanzo beans to suit your convenience.
- It’s a great dish if you are venturing into a vegan or gluten-free diet.
- You can make this on the stovetop or put it in your Instant Pot for roughly an hour.
- Freezes well and is great for meal planning
- This recipe uses everyday Indian spices like coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika, turmeric, and garam masala.
Ingredients for making chana masala
This recipe is made with easily accessible ingredients and commonly used spices; you can find them down any ethnic food aisle in a grocery store or online.
- Chickpeas I start with dried or raw chickpeas; canned is convenient, but there’s something about cooking them raw that really adds to chana masala.
- Oil When I make this curry I like to use an oil like olive oil or avocado alternatively you can use ghee or butter.
- Cumin Seeds toasting the seeds in the oil brings out the oils in the seeds and adds to the flavor of your curry
- Onion, Ginger, and Garlic these ingredients are the aromatics that form the base of the curry.
- Serrano Chili This will add some heat to your curry; you can omit it if you don’t like it very spicy. I occasionally do not want it overly spicy.
- Tomato My favorite tomato is a Roma, which has little juice and seeds, but 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes will suffice.
- Spices like salt, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, coriander, and cumin powder are the base of most Indian curries and give them the authentic flavor you are looking for.
- Fennel powder This ingredient is one that is sometimes more difficult to find, so it is optional, but if you can find it, it will add wonderful additional flavor.
- Water depending on how you like the consistency you can add more or less water but I like to use a 1:2 ratio.
- Cilantro and lemon juice will finish off the curry but is completely optional.
- Tomato paste I like to use a little bit of tomato paste to enhance the tomato flavor, but is optional
how to make chana masala
- Prepare Beans Soak dried chickpeas in water overnight or for about 10 hours. If you’re using canned or precooked chickpeas, this step can be skipped, and all you will need to do is rinse and drain them. If you have the time, you can cook a batch of plain chickpeas in an instant pot. I’ll make a note of how to do this on my recipe card.
- Sauté Onions Heat the oil on sauté mode, add the cumin seeds, and wait until they start to sizzle. Then, add the onions and cook until they are translucent.
- Add fragrant ginger, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chilies (if you’re adding them), and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add in your tomatoes with a few tablespoons of water, and then cancel the sauté setting on your instant pot.
- Pressure Cook and add the chickpeas and water. Lock down your lid and pressure cook for 45 minutes.
- Release pressure After everything has been pressure cooked, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes, and then carefully remove any remaining pressure. When the instant pot indicates that it is safe to remove the lid, do so.
- Thicken In order to thicken your curry, you will want to use a potato masher and mash a few of the beans. This will give you the creamy texture you are wanting, or you can put it back on the saute pan and cook it down a little bit.
- Garnish To finish off the chana masala, you can garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy!
What to Serve with Chana Masala
These are my favorite ways to enjoy chana masala or any Indian food.
- Rice I like to serve chana masala with basmati rice (brown or white works well).
- Flatbreads To enjoy this dish, serve it with garlic naan, excellent for dipping into this delicious dish. To enjoy this dish, serve it with garlic naan, excellent for dipping into this delicious dish.
- Low-Carb Because chickpeas are high in carbs, omit the basmati rice and serve with cauliflower rice if you want to make this dish low-carb.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Best Chana Masala
- 1 instant pot or pressure cooker
- 1 cup dry chickpeas rinsed and soaked in 4 cups water, for 8-10 hours
- 1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger minced
- 1 cup onion
- 2-3 serrano chilies or green chilies for mild spice, de-seed and remove ribs
- 2 Roma tomatoes De seeded and finely chopped, or 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2-3 tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp fennel powder
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp lime juice
- Rinse and soak dry chickpeas in about 4 cups of water, overnight, or at least 8-10 hours. Drain and rinse them before cooking. Skip this step if using pre-made chickpeas. If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain them
Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
- Turn on Saute and adjust it to high. Heat oil (or ghee) and add cumin seeds. When cumin begins to pop and splutter, add onions and saute them for 3-4 minutes
- Add minced ginger and minced garlic, along with green chilies, and saute for another minute. Now add the tomato and tomato paste, and all the spices along with a few tablespoons of water. Use that to de glaze the pot and scrape off any brown bits stuck at the bottom. Cancel Saute.
- Add chickpeas, and water and give it a stir. Close the lid, vent set to 'sealing', and pressure cook for 45 minutes at Bean/Chili or Manual mode. If using unsoaked dry chickpeas, adjust the pressure cook time to 60 minutes. If using canned or pre-cooked chickpeas, reduce the cooking time to 5 minutes.
- Once cooking time is up, wait for the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes, followed by manual pressure release. Open the lid after the pin drops or your notified it is safe to remove the lid.
Finishing and Serving
- Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash a few beans. This makes the curry creamy and thick naturally. To thicken it more, simmer for a few minutes on saute mode.
- Garnish with cilantro and squeeze a few drops of lime or lemon juice. Serve with Naan, basmati rice, or cauliflower rice.