Chana masala, also called chole masala, Punjabi chole, or just chole is a popular Indian curry. It is made with chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans in a tomato-onion gravy cooked with Indian spices.
It is served with bhatura, an Indian puffy bread. The dish is called chole bhature and is served in Indian restaurants across the globe.
You don't need to be restricted to enjoying chana masala only in restaurants as you can make it easily at home in a pressure cooker like Instant Pot.
This is a vegan, gluten-free Instant Pot chana masala recipe that is delicious, easy to make, and kid-friendly. You can even store it for meal planning.
You will need garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are available in most grocery stores. Chole masala curry can be cooked from unsoaked chickpeas or after soaking them.
The gravy is made with tomatoes, onions, ginger-garlic paste, serrano pepper, and whole spices like bay leaf, whole red chili, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cardamom.
The main ingredient that gives chole its authentic taste is the spice blend called chana masala powder. I like to use the Everest or MDH brands available in Indian grocery stores.
For garnishing, some cilantro and lime juice are added.
Turn the Instant Pot on the saute mode on the normal setting and then add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the whole spices. Using whole spices gives a good flavor and taste.
Add the tomato-onion puree, chana masala powder, and salt, and cook for a few minutes until all water evaporates and it releases some oil. Now add the chickpeas and water.
Optionally, add a little sugar for enhanced taste and a teabag as it gives a dark color to the curry. Pressure cook the chickpeas for 18 minutes on high-pressure mode with the pressure release knob in the sealing position.
Allow the pressure to release naturally and then open the lid. If you can't wait that long, you can release the pressure manually after 10 minutes of natural pressure release.
You need a few basic ingredients and Indian spices to make this delicious chole recipe. You can also substitute the ingredients.
Tomato paste - instead of fresh tomatoes, you can use a tablespoon of tomato paste for every tomato.
Spicy - add some serrano peppers to make it spicy and less or none to make it kid-friendly.
Garam masala - instead of whole garam masala spices, you can use half a teaspoon of garam masala powder instead.
Chana masala powder - instead of store-bought chana masala powder, you can use coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, and dry mango powder known as amchur powder.
Canned chickpeas - you can use canned chickpeas in the recipe and pressure cook it for 5 minutes instead.
Chana masala can be easily made in the Instant Pot with very little effort. It is vegan and gluten-free. You can make some variations to the cooking method.
No soak - chana masala can be made from dry chickpeas without soaking. It will take about 50-60 minutes in the Instant Pot with a ratio of 1:3 of dried chickpeas to water.
Gravy - you can cook the gravy on the side on the stovetop while chickpeas are cooking in the Instant Pot and then mix it together after discarding the water.
Frozen chickpeas - you can also make a batch of chickpeas in the Instant Pot and store it in the freezer. When you are ready to eat, simply mix them in the gravy and heat them for a few minutes.
Chana masala is popularly served with bhatura and the dish is called chole bhature. It can also be served with basmati rice and other Indian bread like roti, naan, paratha, and poori.
It is best served hot and garnished with chopped onions, cilantro, and a few drops of lime juice to enhance the flavor.
Any leftover chana masala can be used to make samosa chaat.
This Punjabi chole recipe is made in the 3 qt. Instant Pot. You can also use the 6 qt. Instant Pot to make the same quantity or to make a bigger batch for meal planning.
Any leftover chana masala can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It can also be cooked ahead of time and stored in air-tight containers in the fridge for 3-4 days. Allow the curry to cool down and then store it.
When you are ready to eat it, you can reheat it in the microwave, stovetop, or on the saute made in the Instant Pot.
Just like most beans, chana masala freezes well too and you can freeze them in freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags for up to 3 months. Allow it to cool down completely and then portion it so you can use only what you need later.
To use frozen chana masala, you can keep the container in the fridge overnight or simply defrost it in the microwave and then reheat it.
Do you need to soak chickpeas before pressure cooking?
Soaking the chickpeas for about 8 hours helps in reducing the overall pressure cooking time in the Instant Pot. Soaking also ensures the beans get cleaned thoroughly well as the water used for soaking is discarded. It gives assurance that the beans are of good quality and will cook well.
Lastly, it also helps with digestion as cooking dry beans can cause gas problems in some people. However, if you forget to soak the chickpeas, cooking them unsoaked is always an option.
Don't forget to check out these beans recipes you might like
- Black Chickpeas Curry
- Mixed beans Curry
- Rajma Masala
- Mexican black beans
- How to cook chickpeas in Instant Pot
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Instant Pot Chana Masala
- 1 ½ tablespoon Chana masala powder
- 2 Cloves
- 2 Whole Red Chili
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- 2 Peppercorn
- 1 Bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 1 Star anise
- 1 Big cardamom (Black cardamom or green cardamoms)
For chana masala gravy
- 1 Onion (medium size)
- 2 Tomatoes (medium size)
- 1 tablespoon Ginger garlic paste (or minced)
- 1 teaspoon Serrano pepper (optional, to taste)
- 1 ½ cup Water
- 1 ½ cup Chickpeas (soaked in water)
- 1 Teabag (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Organic cane sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Salt (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- Soak the chickpeas in water for about 8 hours.
- Discard the water before cooking.
- Blend onion, tomatoes, ginger garlic in Vitamix or any other blender.
- Turn on "Saute" mode of the Instant Pot on "Normal" setting.
- Once hot, add oil.
- After the oil is hot, add all the whole spices - cumin seeds, bay leaf, peppercorn, cloves, red whole chili, big cardamom, and star anise.
- Add the blended tomato onion paste, chana masala powder, and salt.
- Continue to saute for another 5-7 minutes or until all the moisture evaporates from the mixture.
- Add water, soaked chickpeas and optionally add a tea bag and sugar.
- Select "Cancel" to come out of "Saute" mode.
- Close and lock the lid, select "Pressure" on high for 18 minutes followed by natural release.
- Discard the tea bag. Garnish with cilantro and its ready to serve.
- Tomato paste - instead of fresh tomatoes, you can use a tablespoon of tomato paste for every tomato.
- Spicy - add some serrano peppers to make it spicy and less or none to make it kid-friendly.
- Garam masala - instead of whole garam masala spices, you can use half a teaspoon of garam masala powder instead.
- Chana masala powder - instead of store-bought chana masala powder, you can use coriander powder (1 tsp), cumin powder (½ tsp), red chili powder (¼ tsp), and dry mango powder(¼ tsp) known as amchur powder.
- Canned chickpeas - you can use canned chickpeas in the recipe and pressure cook it for 5 minutes instead.
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