Instant Pot Kala Chana (Brown Chickpea Curry)


Kala chana or brown chickpea curry is a flavorful north Indian dish that’s so easy to make in an instant pot!

instant pot kala chana (brown chickpea curry)

This is a simple Punjabi vegetarian dish that goes perfectly with rice or roti. It calls for kala chana also known as black chickpeas – though I call them brown chickpeas because that’s what they look like to me.

This brown chickpea curry is a bit saucy and it’s also well spiced but not necessarily spicy – you can easily adapt the heat level by adding more cayenne/red chili powder.

Brown chickpeas have a tasty nutty flavor to them and they’re pretty dense. I think they have a “meaty” quality to them which is why I think this dish is great to serve on a meatless Monday or really any day you want to eat vegetarian meal.


instant pot kala chana (brown chickpea curry)

If you’ve never tried brown chickpeas before, they have a bit of a nutty flavor and are more dense when compared to garbanzo beans/chickpeas. This is how I like to describe the difference: if you press a cooked white chickpea between your fingers, it’ll easily smush whereas with a brown chickpea, you have to press a little harder to smush it. I know that’s probably a strange way to describe the texture but it makes sense, right?

As I mentioned, brown chickpeas have a “meaty” quality. While they do soften after cooking, they don’t absorb much liquid or break down the way other legumes or lentils do. Because of this reason, I only use a little water in this recipe.

I love cooking with brown chickpeas and already have a couple recipes on the blog that call for them. There’s my recipe for kadala coconut curry which is a south Indian Keralite recipe and is very different from the north Indian curry I’m sharing today. I also have a sookha kala chana recipe which is a “dry” brown chickpea dish – perfect for snacking on alongside a cup of chai and/or some puris (fried Indian bread).

If you are interested in learning more about Indian legumes, I’ve written a blog post all about them – be sure to check it out 🙂


Yes! Omit the onion, garlic, ginger, and tomato sauce in the recipe and replace with ½ cup of onion masala. Also, be sure to add an additional ½ cup of water (for a total of 1 ½ cups). You can keep the remaining spices the same.

Serve this brown chickpea curry over basmati rice, roti or just eat a bowl of this on its own!

instant pot kala chana (brown chickpea curry)

instant pot kala chana (brown chickpea curry)

These brown chickpeas have a “meaty” quality to them. While they do soften after cooking, they don’t absorb much liquid or break down the way other legumes or lentils do. Because of this reason, I only use a little water in this recipe. I enjoy eating this curry over basmati rice.
5 from 9 reviews
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Cuisine Indian


  • 1 cup brown chickpeas kala chana, soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons oil of choice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger



  • ½ cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • Cilantro garnish


  • Soak the brown chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Press the sauté button, add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds to the pot. Once the cumin seeds turn brown, add the onions and stir-fry for about 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, brown chickpeas, water and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 45 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • If you prefer a thicker curry, you can reduce the liquid by pressing the sauté button once the dish is done.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.


If you'd like to use onion masala for this recipe: omit the onion, garlic, ginger, and tomato sauce in the recipe and replace them with ½ cup of onion masala. Also, be sure to add an additional ½ cup of water (for a total of 1 ½ cups water). You can keep the spices the same.
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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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  1. Anita Puri says

    5 stars
    Your recipes continue to amaze me! This one is no exception. The chanas turned out perfectly soft and the curry was delicious… just the right flavor of the spices used. Thank you for creating these delicious recipes.

  2. Ashley says

    5 stars
    Very thankful for this and all your recipes! They’re not complicated, made with ingredients already in my pantry, not tedious, and taste good. My sons liked this “acorn curry” as they call it and didn’t notice it was a bit spicy. Next time I am definitely going to double or triple it so there’s more leftovers for the next day.

  3. S says

    Made this last night it was delicious! My family and I ate it like soup with a spoon without any roti or chawal. I’ve been making a lot of your recipes recently and I love that so many of them are in the instantpot and are classic Punjabi recipes like my mom used to make when I was younger. Thanks for all your hard work!

  4. Sonal Chandna says

    Hi, when you say close the pressure valve and cook on high pressure… does that mean “pressure cook high for 45 mins”

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Sonal, yes, depending on your IP model, you’ll want to use either the “manual” button or “pressure cook” button and set the time to 45 minutes, then wait until the pot naturally releases pressure. Hope that helps and that you enjoy this!

  5. Anu says

    Another home run in our household for dinner! I quick released after ~10 min and it turned out fine but I was curious how long you typically natural release for. Thanks, Ashley!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Anu, that’s so great to hear! Thank you for letting me know how this turned out for you 🙂 I usually just wait until the pin drops on its own but it’s really great to know that it turned out fine after a 10 minute natural release!

  6. Susan J. Walter says

    5 stars
    Everyone in my family loved it! My 12-yr old daughter said it was the best thing she’d eaten in months! thanks for the great recipe—might add a little more liquid next time though.

  7. Jamie says

    Can I use 1/2 cup of onion masala in place of the tomato sauce instead? (I would prefer not to open a whole can of tomato sauce just for 1/2 cup.) If so, would I omit the onion, ginger and garlic? Thanks!

  8. Sharon says

    5 stars
    This is my first time making a recipe from your blog and it was absolutely delicious!! Thank you so much for sharing this! I can’t wait to try more recipes from your blog.

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