Instant Pot Chana Masala – 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.


Watch how easy it is 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

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

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

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 68 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. Alex says

    5 stars
    Hey Ashley, quick question — roughly, how many cups of cooked chickpeas does 2C dried make after soaked? I have to go backwards because I bulk soak chickpeas.

  2. ALE says

    I’m going to be honest here — it came out way better than I expected!!
    This is my first ever Indian dish I ever made that came out good (I’ve only tried once on my own — it sucked, and one from your blog).
    I followed the recipe to the tee and went to an Indian grocery and bought all this stuff — it was a royal pain in my a*$, but nonetheless, I did it. Starting out always is, right?
    The only thing I didn’t follow was the oil. I omitted it because I don’t cook with oil — ever. I also halved the salt.
    What I noticed very early on is this really screwed up the way things saute. Oil just works better… why? I’m assuming because it doesn’t evaporate, but also because things just brown better? I put 1 whole onion in there and only added water when I needed, but the onion barely browned, and took nearly 3X as long (20+ minutes). Eventually, I just went to the next step regardless of it browning or not.
    I made my own roasted cumin powder — that was fun.
    I also didn’t have time to soak the chickpeas, and I’m wondering — because I did a 10 minute high pressure cook, does that screw up the consistency of the chick peas as opposed to cooking them just after soaking? Would they be less cooked, and more firm? (al dente)
    Also, I added way too much water. After it was done cooking, I probably poured out 1C in excess water.
    You said “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.”
    -This left me wondering. What amount of water should be used if I didn’t *** soak the chickpeas, but rather pressure cooked them for 10 minutes? In the future, I’ll always have soaked stuff ready.

    Lastly, this kind of was a sucky experience, but I attribute that to only me and not Ashley. I just wasn’t accustomed to the amount of work Indian food requires, or just food in general — way more than I was used to (gosh I can’t even begin to imagine how much work it would be without* a IP. Now I get your inspiration for the site.) — and having a kitchen that had none of the indian kitchen essentials to make cooking easy, I had to go out and buy stuff. Not fun. I’ll learn over time. I may have bitten off more than I could have chewed for my first recipe, but it’s a learning experience nonetheless. Now that I have some of the spices I need, and I’m learning how to use the IP, I’ll learn as I go, and what does and doesn’t work.
    Thanks a bunch Ashley. Soon I’ll be an Indian chef master!
    But until then…I still have a dream that delightful Indian cuisine can be made with <5 ingredients. Say it with me… <5 ingredients, <5 ingredients, <5 ingredients, lol.

    Thanks and much love. I'll be making this again for sure, as it's delicious when cold, and delicious as a left over.

    PS 1. Can I forgo the salt and just sprinkle it on as needed? 2. 2C dried chickpeas equates to how many cups soaked? I'm asking because I soaked a whole bunch — a bag — and I want to know how much 2 cups dried (the recipe amount) equals.

    Thanks

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi Alex, I’m glad it turned out well. It’s going to be tough to cook good Indian food without oil – browning onions is key, and using oil helps. As for chickpeas, did you use dried? If you forget to soak them, you can adjust the cook time to 1 hour and 10 minutes (see this recipe). For easy Indian recipes, you may want to try making my onion masala first. Having that handy will allow you to cook many recipes in minutes.

  3. VJ says

    Hi Ashely, I have only 1/3rd cup dried chickpeas that i have soaked and need to be that way for diet plan. Can i scale the spices accordingly? How about the water? Does it still need to be 2 cups water for 1/3 cup chickpeas (dried)?

  4. Aishwarya says

    Looks bomb! So I have regular cumin seeds but do not have a spice blender. I have a small nutri bullet can I use that? Thanks! I really want to try this recipe . Love ur book too!

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Thanks, Aishwarya! I haven’t tried blending spices in a nutribullet so I’m not sure – I’ve only every used my coffee/spice grinder or a mortar pestle. If you try this, please let me know how it goes!

  5. Tanya says

    Hi Ashley ! I plan to make this recipe with half a cup of dried chickpeas soaked overnight, so that would mean I would be using just half a cup – before securing the lid to cook the chickpeas
    Is that very little water to use in an instant pot ?

  6. amy says

    Such a quick and easy recipe! Toned down the chilli/paprika and my 14 month old is eating it and that’s not an easy task.

  7. Mer says

    5 stars
    This is ridiculously good. I couldn’t find amchur, so used tamarind extract/concentrate instead. Also we’re trying to cook oil-free so just used veggie broth to keep everything from sticking during saute phase and it came out AMAZING!!! Thank you so much. Between this and your aloo gobi which I also make oil-free, we had such a healthy, delicious Valentine’s Day feast!!!

  8. kunal says

    Hi Ashley, great receipe!

    Quick question:
    (1) Can you do this recipe using already cooked chickpea (I had some saved afterwards from your receipe for making the cooked chickpeas (https://myheartbeets.com/instant-pot-chickpeas)

    If you can use the already cooked chickpeas,
    (1) how many cups of the cooked chickpeas would be equivalent (rather than using 2 cups of dry chickpeas and soaking them)
    (2) how much time in the instapot would be sufficient (if using the already cooked chickpeas)

    Thankyou so much Ashley!!
    Kunal

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi Kunal, I’m sure you can use cooked chickpeas. This recipe calls for 2 cups of dried chickpeas which is equal to about 6 cups of cooked chickpeas. I would try 5 minutes for the cook time which should hopefully be enough time to help the masala come together and for the chickpeas to absorb flavor. I would also reduce the water since the chickpeas won’t be absorbing any – I’d try ½ to 1 cup. If you try this, please let me know how it goes 🙂

      • Kat says

        5 stars
        Used 4 x 14oz cans of chickpeas in place of dried, 0.5c water, and 5min on high pressure and it turned out perfectly! I was also lazy and toasted regular cumin instead of the seeds and it tastes great… though I’m not Indian and don’t have discerning taste 🙂

        Looking forward to onion masala version!

    • Ben Choaderman says

      5 stars
      Half a bag of dry Goya Garbanzo’s turns into 3 cups of chickpeas after an overnight soak. Don’t soak a whole package unless you want to deal with alot of chickpeas. I scaled the recipe up for 3 cups. This stuff also freezes and thaws well – so go for a big batch and you can freeze the leftovers for a busy night when you really appreciate it.

  9. Rajee Kumar says

    Ashley loved the Chana masala such great flavor. I am a traditionalist and have always made fresh ground masala for the accurate taste to meet my discerning palate. This one was so much easier and turned out delicious!! Yippee will be on my weekly menu regularly. Love all your recipes well tested and very much tasty!!

  10. Amit says

    Hi
    I am curious if (the way you cooked it) gravy has any onion bits left after the cooking is complete or have the onions all melted into the gravy?
    I love a smooth gravy so I am wondering if I should blend the onions (like your Rajma recipe)

      • Amit says

        5 stars
        Blending the onions is definitely my preferred approach! I ran into a snag with not having roasted cumin powder on hand and I opted for cumin powder instead. To compensate for the missing smokiness, I added some homemade “Bengali Garam Masala” to garnish. Since it was fragrant and home-roasted it added that missing smokiness and it was a huge hit with my in-laws. It tasted slightly different than they were used to but they couldn’t point out why.
        A huge thank you to you for your time and effort!
        Cheers!

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