Instant Pot Sookha Kala Chana (Spiced Brown Chickpeas)


Get ready to snack on some spiced brown chickpeas! Enjoy this sookha kala chana with roti, poori, or on its own with a cup of chai.

instant pot sukhe kala chana

These masala-coated brown chickpeas are considered a “dry curry” and are often paired with Indian flatbread. I personally love snacking on them with a cup of creamy masala chai.

If you’re one of those people who pay very close attention to detail, you may have noticed that in my cookbook, I call this recipe sukhe kala chana, and here on the blog I’m calling it sookha kala chana. Both words mean “dry” but sukhe is a Punjabi word and sookha is a Hindi word. I’m using the word “sookha” here on the blog because that’s what most people search for when looking for this recipe 🙂

Anyway, moving on…

instant pot sukhe kala chana

“Another gem from Ashley! What a thoroughly tested and delicious recipe! Thanks a ton 🙂”


What is Sookha Kala Chana?

This popular dry curry is onion-free and garlic-free and is often served with halwa and poori during festivals. Sookha kala chana is also vegan and gluten-free. In fact, this recipe consists of just oil, brown chickpeas, spices and water.

While you probably won’t find this dish in an Indian restaurant, it is very popular in Indian homes, especially during festival time. Navratri, a major nine-day Hindu festival, is celebrated twice a year and on the last day, kala chana is served alongside poori and halwa. I remember when I was much younger, me and my little girl friends would go from home to home eating halwa, poori and kala chana and we’d get so many gifts. I loved it…lol. No need to wait for a special reason to make this – it’s great any time of the year 🙂

Brown Chickpeas vs. Chickpeas

If you’ve never tried brown chickpeas before, they have a bit of a nutty flavor and are denser 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?

Anyway, if you’re interested in legumes, I share a lot more info about Indian legumes in this post. And if you’d like to try out more brown chickpea recipes, I have a saucy kala chana curry and a kadala coconut curry here on the blog!

Let me know what you think of this 🙂

instant pot sukhe kala chana

Instant Pot Sukhe Kala Chana (Spiced Brown Chickpeas)

instant pot sukhe kala chana

Instant Pot Sukhe Kala Chana (Spiced Brown Chickpeas)

These masala-coated brown chickpeas are considered a “dry curry” and are often paired with Indian flatbread. I personally love eating them as a snack alongside a cup of chai.
5 from 6 reviews
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  • 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. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Once the cumin seeds become brown and the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the brown chickpeas and all of the spices. Mix well, then add the water.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 30 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • Press the sauté button to boil o any remaining water in the pot.
  • Garnish with cilantro.


  • 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.
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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

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. Neetal says

    5 stars
    Most delicious and quick recipe. Your onion masala is a game changer. I converted this curry to misal-pav adding more water and jaggery and topping it with chopped raw onion, tomato, yogurt and lemon. It was a hit .. 2 in one recipe. Eat with Roti, rice or with bread as misal-pav. Thank you again for bringing such wonderful recipes to our homes.

  2. Jasmine says

    This was interesting. Love that it was dump and go (I don’t bother to bloom the spices, don’t care for the flavor) but it definitely wasn’t as robust as the regular kala chana recipe. I had this with dahi and it made a nice snack. 🙂 I’d like to try it in a salad—do you have any recommendations for that pairing?

  3. Maneesha says

    5 stars
    This is such a great recipe! I like that it is dry; and I agree – it is a great snack! I tossed some in a salad, and it was delicious! A great protein burst to the salad!

      • Indrani says

        I am following the exact measurements in this recipe, but I wondered: is one cup of water enough for two cups of lentils? I usually have to submerge anything I am pressure cooking. But using these measurements, the water level is not enough to submerge the lentils. Is that normal? I’m just worried the lentils will be undercooked. Thanks for the recipe and the childhood memories (same!)

        • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

          Hi Indrani, yes it’s enough. You’re soaking the kala chana overnight so it’s already absorbed water and this type of chana doesn’t absorb much while cooking. It’s a dry chana recipe, so you don’t want to add more than what the recipe calls for – you can trust the recipe. 🙂

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