This easy chickpea curry is made in the Instant Pot using pantry staples like coconut milk and canned tomatoes. Gluten-free, vegan and great for meal prep or dinner!
If you’re looking for an easy but flavorful weeknight recipe then you’ve come to the right place.
This chickpea curry– also known as chana masala–is filled with nutritious pantry staples like dry chickpeas and coconut milk.
Best of all, it’s inexpensive, nutritious, and easy to make!
I like to serve this curry with white rice and a lime wedge. It makes good leftovers and it freezes well, so you can even double the batch for meal prep!
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Ingredients and substitutions
Dry chickpeas: You’ll need 1 and 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of dry chickpeas. Make sure to sort out any shriveled peas and rinse them before using.
Vegetable broth: I like to use broth labeled as low or reduced-sodium. This allows you to better control the salt content of the dish.
Coconut milk: Canned full fat coconut milk adds a nice creaminess. You can replace with reduced-fat or “lite” coconut milk if you wish for a lower fat meal, but it won’t be as creamy.
Onions, garlic and ginger: I use yellow onion, but white onion will work if that’s what you have available. One tablespoon of fresh ginger and garlic can be replaced with one teaspoon of ground. Add the ground ginger/garlic with the rest of the seasonings.
Spices: We will use garam masala, curry powder and cumin seeds. Toasting cumin seeds instead of ground cumin is totally worth it for the flavor it provides the dish. You can find cumin seeds in most spice aisles. Substitute 1 teaspoon ground cumin for 1 teaspoon cumin seeds as needed.
Crushed tomatoes: Tomatoes provide acidity to an otherwise creamy dish. If you don’t have crushed on hand, diced will also work. I even tried this recipe with fire-roasted tomatoes once and was pleasantly surprised.
Spinach: This is entirely optional, but it provides a burst of color and amps up the iron content of the dish.
Step by step instructions
Start by pressing the “saute” button on your Instant Pot. Drizzle with peanut oil (this can be substituted with canola, olive or vegetable oil as needed). Adjust to “normal” saute.
Once it reads “hot”, add the diced onion and cumin seeds. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until onion is translucent and lightly golden at the ends. Add the ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the spices (image one). Deglaze the pan with a splash (about one tablespoon) of vegetable broth or water. This will remove any of the stuck on bits from the pot.
Add the remaining vegetable broth, coconut milk and dry chickpeas. Sir together to combine.
Lock the lid in place and close the vent. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure. When the 30 minute timer is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally.
Once the pressure is completely released (you can tell because the silver pin by the vent will drop down), remove the lid. Test chickpeas for doneness (image three).
Stir in crushed tomatoes and optional spinach and taste for salt (image four). The spinach should wilt in under a minute. Enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
What do I do if my chickpeas aren’t fully cooked? Place the Instant Pot lid back in place. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. When the timer is up, do a quick pressure release to release all steam at once. Test the chickpeas and repeat as needed until desired tenderness is reached.
How to avoid the dreaded “burn” message: Don’t add onions to the Instant Pot to saute until it reads “Hot”. This will prevent the onions from sticking to the pot. After sauteing the onions, ginger and garlic add a splash of vegetable broth to deglaze the pan. This will remove any stuck bits that may trigger a burn error.
Can I make this with canned chickpeas? Unfortunately, this recipe only works with dry chickpeas. You might like my coconut curry rice bowls if you’re looking for a similar recipe using canned chickpeas.
How to freeze: Allow the curry to cool to room temperature before transferring to freezer-safe containers. Leave at least an inch of space at the top of the container because the curry will expand as it freezes. Let thaw completely in the fridge before reheating in the microwave or on the stove.
Serve over white or brown rice. It also goes well with a slice of naan or paired with quinoa.
Top with a squeeze of lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro for an extra flavor kick. Enjoy!
Instant Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil see note #1
- 1 cup diced yellow onion from 1 medium onion
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds see note #2
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger, see note #3
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 2 cups vegetable broth plus more for deglazing
- 1 can (14 ounces) full fat coconut milk
- 1 and 1/2 cups dry chickpeas rinsed
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh spinach see note #4
- lime juice and chopped cilantro for serving
- 2 and 1/2 cups cooked white rice
- Start by pressing the "saute" button on your Instant Pot. Adjust to "normal" saute. Drizzle with peanut oil. Once it reads "hot", add the diced onion and cumin seeds. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until onion is translucent and lightly golden at the ends. Add the ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the spices (garam masala, curry powder, salt). Deglaze the pan with a splash (about one tablespoon) of vegetable broth or water to remove any stuck on bits from the pot.
- Add the remaining vegetable broth, coconut milk and dry chickpeas. Stir together to combine.
- Lock the lid in place and close the vent. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure. When the 30 minute timer is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally. Once the pressure is completely released, remove the lid. Test chickpeas for doneness. If the chickpeas are not cooked enough, replace the lid and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. When the timer is up carefully do a quick pressure release.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes and optional spinach and taste for salt. The fresh spinach should wilt in under a minute. Serve with rice and garnish with lime wedges and fresh chopped cilantro.
- Peanut oil: This is used because of the flavor it adds, but it can be substituted with canola, olive or vegetable oil as needed
- Cumin seeds: Can be replaced with 1 teaspoon ground cumin as desired. Add ground cumin in with the rest of the spices instead of sauteing it with onion.
- Garlic and ginger: One tablespoon fresh garlic/ginger can be replaced with 1 teaspoon ground dry garlic/ginger as needed. Add in with the rest of the spices instead of sauteing.
- Spinach: Replace 2 cups fresh with 1 cup frozen as needed. Simmer until the spinach is fully defrosted.