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One of my all-time favourite dishes in the world is the slightly spicy, slightly tangy, and wonderfully comforting Indian chana masala. If you’ve never had this, it’s basically a chick pea stew with tomatoey sauce seasoned with warm, good-for-you spices. It’s perfect any time of year, but especially good on a cold wintery day. It pairs well with rice or flatbreads, but my favourite with chana masala has always been bhatura, a thick and fluffy deep-fried Indian flatbread. Since I don’t make bhatura at home myself, and the whole process of deep-frying doesn’t exactly scream of a quick, convenient meal that you can make for the whole family, I often pair chana masala with naan, either homemade or store-bought!
I grew up with this dish as a staple, and it’s still a favourite in our house for many reasons. It’s both vegetarian and vegan friendly, while still being filling and full of protein; it’s also enjoyed by both my husband and I as well as our picky 4.5 year old and 15 month old. Generally this dish is made on stove top, and like many Indian dishes, it does really well in a pressure cooker. However, like I’ve mentioned before, I have a fear of stove-top pressure cookers but love using my Instant Pot for easy, hands-off meals. The Instant Pot is ideal for beans and lentils as you can cook from dry without any previous soaking. (However, if you want to soak overnight, you can very well do that, just make sure to reduce the cooking time by about 15 minutes.)
Whether you’re an Indian food fiend or you shy away from the spicy heat of many Indian dishes, chana masala is a great dish to make.
This Instant Pot Indian chana masala is not creamy, so it’s a lot lighter than many dishes (and won’t leave you feeling like you need to cleanse after eating!). As well, it can be paired with plain yogurt or raita (Indian spiced yogurt) to cut the spice, or with a spicy Indian pickle (achaar) – it goes particularly well with carrot pickle (gaajar achaar) – to add some heat. The spice level that I have cooked at is good for someone who likes a bit of spice but might not have a rack of hot sauces in the fridge. It’s a great middle ground, but feel free to add your spices ½ a teaspoon at a time if you have a very sensitive palate.
Finally, if you really want to make this and don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t fret! Just make sure to pre-soak (or use canned chick peas) and you can definitely make this on stove top!
- 1 tbsp organic cooking oil anything with a high burning point – avocado or coconut work well for this
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves whole
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 inch ginger whole or grated
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1.5 cups dried chick peas washed and sorted
- 3 cups water
- 1.5 tsp real salt (to taste)
- 2 tbsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
- 1 tsp amchoor powder dried mango powder - this can be found at all Indian grocery stores
- 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
Turn IP to saute and add oil, onion, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
After onion has turned translucent and is just starting to brown, add ginger, garlic, and all the spices. Let cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
Add chick peas and water. Stir. Cover and set IP to manual, 40 minutes.
After the 40 minutes is up, let pressure decrease naturally and then open up the IP and stir the tomato paste into the mix. Cover again and set the IP for an additional 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, let pressure decrease naturally and enjoy!