Chana Masala Instant Pot Recipe – Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry)

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It usually takes several hours to prepare authentic Punjabi Chole, but with my instant pot recipe, you can have delicious masala coated chickpeas on your plate in no time.

Chana Masala - Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry) made in an Instant Pot

What is Chana Masala?

Chana Masala, also known as Chole (pronounced Cho-lay), is a Punjabi dish where chickpeas are cooked in a spicy, flavorful onion-tomato gravy. But not too much gravy. It’s popular Indian street food with rich, complex flavors.

Spices are everything when it comes to making Punjabi Chole. I have tested this recipe many times to perfect my spice combination, and I know you will love it. There are two spices in particular that make this dish: dried mango powder (amchur), which adds tanginess, and roasted cumin powder, which adds depth and aroma to the dish.

If you’ve never heard of amchur powder, it’s made from unripe green mangoes, and it has a tart and slightly fruity flavor. Roasted cumin powder is highly aromatic and has a flavor that is far more intense than regular cumin. When a recipe calls for roasted cumin powder, please please please do not substitute it with regular cumin because you will definitely miss out, and the recipe will not taste the way it should. You can buy roasted cumin powder either on amazon or at an Indian store, but it’s also really easy to make – see my note at the bottom of the recipe!

Chana Masala - Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry) made in an Instant Pot

This has been one of my favorite dishes – since childhood. Back in the day, most of my friends would beg their parents to take them to Pizza Hut or McD’s, or other fast-food restaurants. Not me. When I was younger, I would beg my parents to pick me up some chole bhature (chickpea curry and fried doughy bread) from a nearby casual Indian restaurant. Ask any north Indian, and they’ll tell you all about Chole Bhature – because it is so. darn. good. Especially when it’s served with sliced raw onion and spicy Indian pickles (achar). If I was ever on that “best thing I ever ate” show, I think my “thing” would be chole bhature.

If you are gluten-free, you can eat this by itself or serve it with my Instant Pot Perfect Basmati Rice or my 3-ingredient Paleo Naan. But just wait. One of these days, I will come up with a gluten-free recipe for bhatura.

Chana Masala - Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry) made in an Instant Pot

When it came to testing the recipes for my cookbook – let me tell you, it was a family affair. I had to make sure I got approval from everyone, especially my Punjabi father.  He is my biggest supporter and also my biggest food critic – especially when it comes to making good Indian food. Like many Indian parents, he has very high standards. I would make a recipe, have him taste it and give me notes, then remake the dish – over and over again.

Here’s a picture of my sweet dad helping me “style” my chana masala for a photoshoot. This dish (along with the rest of my book) is “dad-approved,” which is just about the best recommendation one can get.

Chana Masala - Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry) made in an Instant Pot

Do I need to soak dried chickpeas overnight? What if I forget?

You either need to soak the dried chickpeas overnight OR do a quick soak. The amount of water listed in my recipe is what’s needed for soaked chickpeas. Dried chickpeas absorb a lot of water, so if you don’t soak them in advance, the proportion of chickpeas to water will not be correct. Also, I believe that soaking legumes helps them to be more easily digested.

Did you forget to soak the dried chickpeas overnight? You can easily do a quick soak by covering the dried chickpeas with an inch of water and pressure cooking them for 10 minutes with a natural release. Then dump out the water, rinse the chickpeas well and follow the chana masala directions from there.


How to Make Chana Masala

(for the full recipe, see the recipe card below 😋)

Get those onions a little brown and you’ll be on your way to flavor town!

Add some garlic and ginger and tomatoes too.

Gather spices and dump them in. Add chickpeas and water, and then it’s time to cook! And wait (netflix/chill) until the chana masala is done.


Chana Masala - Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry) made in an Instant Pot

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala – Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry

Chana Masala - Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry) made in an Instant Pot

Vegan Instant Pot Chana Masala – Punjabi Chole (Spiced Chickpea Curry

It usually takes several hours to prepare authentic Punjabi chole, but with this recipe, you can have delicious masala coated chickpeas on your plate in no time. The spices are key to making this curry, especially the dried mango powder (amchur) which adds tanginess and the roasted cumin powder which adds depth and aroma to the dish.
4.95 from 69 reviews
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Servings 6
Cuisine Indian

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons oil of choice
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 tomatoes chopped

Spices

 

  • 2 cups water
  • Cilantro leaves and red onion garnish

Instructions
 

  • Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Press the sauté button. Add the oil and allow it to heat it up for a minute. Add the onion and bay leaf and stir-fry for 6-7 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, stir, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they break down.
  • Add the spices, stir, then add the chickpeas and water.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 35 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • Discard the black cardamom and the bay leaf, garnish with red onion and chopped cilantro.

Video

Notes

Forget to soak chickpeas? You can do a quick soak by covering dried chickpeas with an inch of water and pressure cooking them for 10 minutes with a natural release. Then dump out the water, rinse the chickpeas well and follow the chana masala directions from there.
 
If you want a thicker curry you can mash it a bit.
 
Roasted cumin powder is highly aromatic and has a more intense flavor than regular (unroasted) cumin. Do not substitute this with regular cumin as you won’t get the right favor.
 
To make roasted cumin powder: heat a skillet over low heat and dry roast cumin seeds (I usually do 1 cup) for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the color of the cumin changes to a dark brown. Turn off the heat and allow the cumin seeds to cool down. Place the cumin into a spice grinder and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight jar and use within 6-8 months for the most flavor.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

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Comments

  1. Michelle says

    This smelled amazing thanks to the roasted cumin powder! My curry turned out pretty good, but I had to make substitutions for what I had on hand, and I think I didn’t balance out the flavours adequately.

    I used homemade tamarind paste instead of amchur, but almost certainly not enough. I added a dollop of yogurt to my serving and the tartness improved it immediately. I also used curry powder in place of garam masala; couldn’t find my container of the latter. Lastly I went too light-handed on the cayenne. I’ve got a pretty low heat tolerance, but my adjusted amount was too mild even for me.

    All in all it made a very satisfying dish, and it turned out looking exactly like the batch in your video in terms of colour and consistency. A very lovely looking curry. I’ll look forward to trying it again but after taking time to track down my missing spices. Very excited to try amchur. I had never heard of it before, but pretty sure my local Indian market will have it.

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi Michelle, I’m glad you tried making this! Great to hear the substitutions worked well. The flavor will likely be very different once you use the spices listed – curry powder and garam masala are very different in flavor. I’ll be curious to know what you think when you make it again 🙂

  2. brandy says

    5 stars
    We’re having a cooler than usual Spring, and this just hits the spot on a cloudy, rainy day! It is SO fast. I get a package of Mirch Masala frozen roti and cook those on the stove so they’re piping hot, and serve (along with rice, but we always have rice). My son just loves this with roti, and my husband raves that my chole is the best. ( Of course I always give credit to “my friend Ashley.”)

    I will make this recipe as long as I live!

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