Once you see how easy it is to make Instant Pot Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala) at home, you’ll never need to order it at a restaurant again. The dish is fragrant, made with basic pantry ingredients, and comes in a rich, coconut-based sauce that is perfect for serving over rice or for soaking up with pieces of warm naan.
Oh hello. Don’t mind us. We’re just over here making a delicious, inexpensive, gluten-free, vegetarian dinner in one pan. In about 15 minutes. Rich, creamy chickpea curry made at home in the Instant Pot (the recipe includes stovetop instructions too!) will have you thinking twice before ever hitting up Postmates for Indian take-out again.
If you like Indian food but are intimidated to make it at home, OR if you’re trying to convert someone who is on the fence about it, this is the dish for you. Made with a base of chickpeas, it's sometimes called Chana Masala on Indian menus. It can be made without any spice and is still super comforting and full of flavor.
Chickpea curry comes together so fast that it’s made for weeknights. And just like Chicken and Corn Chowder it’s also freezer-friendly if you want to make a big batch and save it for last-minute meals.
- Butter - Traditionally, Indian food uses clarified butter (ghee). It’s now relatively easy to find ghee at many grocery stores, so if it’s something you have definitely use it. Regular butter also works just fine.
- Aromatics - Onions, garlic, and fresh ginger provide the foundation of flavor in the dish. If you’re missing one of these, it’s not a deal-breaker, but you’ll get the most flavor if you use all three.
- Tomato Paste - This adds a bright color, umami flavor, and a creamy texture to the rich curry sauce.
- Mild Yellow Curry Powder - Be sure to get a yellow curry powder that is labeled mild. Some can be very spicy!
- Garam Masala - This is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking and it adds a lot of flavor to the dish. It’s a good spice to have on hand because you can use it on its own to flavor meat, protein, or even stirred into yogurt with some lemon juice for a great dip or Indian-spiced topping.
- Red Pepper Flakes - Skip this or reduce the amount if you want to reduce the spice.
- Coconut Milk - Use regular (not light) coconut milk. It has a much creamier texture and more rich flavor than light coconut milk.
- Chickpeas - You’ll need two cans of chickpeas (sometimes labeled “garbanzo beans”). Be sure to drain them and rinse them under cool water before using them.
- Lime Juice - Don’t skip the squeeze of fresh lime juice added at the end of the dish. It adds a great fresh citrus flavor which balances the richness of the curry.
Cooking Basmati Rice and Curry Together in the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot truly makes for a one pan meal if you’re cooking curry and basmati rice at the same time. Prepare the curry for cooking in the bowl of the Instant Pot. Combine basmati rice with water (at a ratio of 1:1) in a pressure cooker-approved bowl, elevated above the curry on a metal rack. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. The curry and rice will finish at the same time.
- Substitute Chicken - Use cubed chicken breast in place of the chickpeas.
- Substitute Cauliflower - For a lighter plant-based version, use cauliflower florets instead of the chickpeas.
- Add Vegetables - Want to boost this meal with vegetables in the curry? Add chopped broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, or cauliflower at the same time as you add the chickpeas.
Freeze This Meal
To freeze this meal, store the chickpea curry and rice in separate, airtight containers. Freeze for up to 6 months.
Print the recipe below for a label with reheating instructions. Just tape it to the top of the meal before you freeze it.
How to Deliver This Meal To Someone Else
If you’re looking for a vegetarian or gluten-free meal to deliver to someone else, this would be a great one. It is easy for someone to enjoy it right away or freeze it to have later.
- Plain yogurt
- Naan (I love Stonefire brand, but occasionally attempt to make it myself)
Don’t forget to print the recipe below for a recipe label / reheating instructions that can be attached to the top of the meal!
Other Take-Out Fake-Out Meals to Try
- Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken
- Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken
- Instant Pot Honey Adobo Chicken
- Instant Pot Korean Beef and Brown Rice
- Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Instant Pot - I use this 6 quart version. I love this thing.
- Pressure Cooker Rack - This set of pressure cooker racks is really useful for a variety of Instant Pot recipes, but it’s great for meals like this - when you want to cook something in the base of the Instant Pot and cook a rice or grain on top. You can also use it to elevate a steamer basket and cook vegetables on top of another dish. It makes for the ultimate one pot meal.
- Anchor 3-Piece Glass Mixing Bowls - I've had the same set of these glass bowls for over a decade and use them daily. Glass bowls like these are safe to use in the Instant Pot, but anything that is approved to be used under pressure will work.
Instant Pot Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala) with Basmati Rice
- Instant Pot
- Metal Pressure Cooker Rack
- Pressure-Cooker Approved Bowl
- 2 Tablespoons Butter (if you have clarified butter / ghee use it here, but regular butter is fine)
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Ginger, finely chopped
- 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 2 teaspoons Mild Yellow Curry Powder
- 2 teaspoons Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- ⅓ cup Vegetable Stock
- 1 13.5 ounce can Coconut Milk (use regular, not light coconut milk)
- 2 15 ounce cans Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons Lime Juice
- Fresh Cilantro, chopped (optional), Plain Yogurt, Naan (for serving)
- Turn on the Instant Pot’s saute function to normal / medium. Add butter.
- When butter melts, add onion and saute until onion is soft, 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.
- Stir in tomato paste, curry powder, garam masala, and red pepper flakes (if using) until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Turn off saute function and add vegetable stock, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in coconut milk and chickpeas. (Note: If you don't want to add the pot-in-pot rice, skip ahead to Step #8.)
- Arrange a metal rack / trivet over the chickpeas and place a 7-inch oven-safe bowl on top. Add basmati rice and 1 cup water to the bowl.
- Close and lock the Instant Pot. Set steam release valve to Sealing.
- Select Manual Release / Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes (careful not to go any longer than 10 minutes or the rice will overcook), then move the release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure.
- Remove lid and use oven mitts to remove bowl with rice. Fluff rice with a fork and set aside.
- Stir lime juice into chickpeas. Taste and season with some salt if needed.
- Serve chickpeas over rice with cilantro and yogurt on top and naan on the side.
Here’s June who just wanted to say hi! She’s thinking really hard about taking those first steps, but we’re not quite there yet.
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