Easy Instant Pot Kala Chana Recipe: From Prep to Plate

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine diving into a bowl of warm, comforting kala chana, a dish that’s as nourishing as it is delicious. This traditional Indian recipe, made from black chickpeas, is renowned for its robust flavors and health benefits. Cooking it in an Instant Pot not only slashes the cooking time but also infuses every bite with deep, aromatic spices.

Ingredients

To capture the essence of traditional Indian kala chana while enjoying the convenience of modern cooking, gather the following ingredients. Using an Instant Pot, these components combine flavors and aromas to deliver a delightful dish.

Main Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black chickpeas (kala chana), soaked overnight
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (preferably canola or vegetable)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnishing
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Each spice listed here plays a crucial role in enhancing the deep, nutty flavor of the black chickpeas while the fresh cilantro adds a refreshing touch before serving.

Required Tools

To make instant pot kala chana successfully, you’ll need a few key kitchen tools to ensure the cooking process is smooth and efficient.

Instant Pot

The core of this recipe is the Instant Pot, an electric pressure cooker that drastically reduces cooking time for dishes like kala chana. For this recipe, a 6-quart Instant Pot is ideal, offering enough space to cook the chickpeas and ensure they are evenly seasoned.

Additional Kitchen Tools

In addition to the Instant Pot, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurately measure your spices, salt, and oil to achieve a well-balanced flavor.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Use this to rinse the kala chana thoroughly before cooking to remove any dirt or impurities.
  • Chopping Board and Knife: Needed for chopping the fresh cilantro and any other fresh ingredients required in your recipe.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: Essential for stirring the ingredients in the Instant Pot to prevent sticking and to ensure even cooking.
  • Serving Bowls: For serving the hot kala chana once it’s perfectly cooked.

These tools collectively ensure that your cooking experience is hassle-free and successful, leading to delicious outcomes every time.

Preparation

Now that you have all your tools and ingredients ready, let’s dive into the preparation of your delicious Instant Pot Kala Chana.

Washing and Soaking Kala Chana

Begin by thoroughly rinsing the black chickpeas under cold water using a fine mesh strainer. This step is crucial to remove any dust and impurities. Once rinsed, place the kala chana in a large bowl and cover with ample cold water. Allow the chickpeas to soak for a minimum of 8 hours, or overnight, which will help in softening them and reducing the cooking time. After soaking, drain the water and rinse the chickpeas once more to ensure they’re clean and ready to cook.

Prepping Aromatics

Next, prepare the aromatics that will enhance the flavor of your dish. Finely chop one large onion, mince two cloves of garlic, and grate a 1-inch piece of ginger. These ingredients will form the base of your flavor profile. Additionally, dice one medium tomato which will add a slight tanginess and richness to the dish. Having these ingredients prepped and on hand will make the cooking process smoother and faster.

Cooking Directions

Now that your ingredients are prepped and your Instant Pot is ready, let’s move on to the actual cooking process. Follow these steps to ensure your kala chana is flavorful and perfectly cooked.

Sauteing Spices and Aromatics

  1. Start by setting your Instant Pot to the ‘Sauté’ mode. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds to the pot. Let them sizzle for about 30 seconds until they start to pop.
  3. Quickly add your chopped onions. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes until they turn golden and translucent.
  4. Stir in 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of grated ginger. Cook for another minute until the aroma is noticeable.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, along with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of coriander powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder. Cook the mixture till the tomatoes are soft and the oil starts to separate, about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Use a splash of water to deglaze the pot if anything sticks to the bottom.

Pressure Cooking the Chickpeas

  1. Drain the soaked kala chana and add them to the Instant Pot.
  2. Pour in 4 cups of water ensuring the chickpeas are completely submerged.
  3. Add salt to taste, and give everything a good stir to mix the flavors.
  4. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to the ‘Sealing’ position.
  5. Switch to the ‘Pressure Cook’ mode and set the timer for 40 minutes on high pressure.
  6. After the cooking time is over, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 20 minutes before turning the valve to ‘Venting’ to release any remaining steam.
  7. Open the lid carefully, stir the kala chana, and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  8. If the gravy is too thin, set the Instant Pot back to ‘Sauté’ mode and simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.

These straightforward steps will help you achieve a deliciously rich and hearty kala chana dish, perfect for serving with rice or flatbreads.

Post-Cooking Instructions

Now that your kala chana is beautifully cooked, follow these steps to perfect the final touches of this delectable dish.

Pressure Release Method

Once your Instant Pot beeps after the cooking time, allow the pressure to release naturally. This natural release method involves simply leaving the Instant Pot alone for about 20 minutes. The pressure valve will drop on its own, indicating that it’s safe to open the lid. This step is crucial as it helps the kala chana beans become more tender and fully absorb the spices’ flavors.

Adjusting Consistency and Flavor

After opening the lid, stir the kala chana to check the consistency of the gravy. If it appears too thick, add a small amount of hot water to reach your desired thickness. Conversely, if the gravy is too watery, set the Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the gravy reduces to your liking.

Taste the kala chana and adjust the seasonings if necessary. You might want to add a bit more salt, a squeeze of lemon juice for some tang, or a sprinkle of garam masala for extra warmth and flavor. Stir well to ensure all the flavors meld together. Serve hot and enjoy every bite with rice or your favorite flatbread.

Serving Suggestions

Once your instant pot kala chana is perfectly cooked, it’s all about pairing it with the right sides and garnishes to elevate the flavors.

Accompaniments

Enjoy your kala chana with a variety of accompaniments to complete your meal. Serve it over a bed of steaming basmati rice, or alongside warm flatbreads like roti or naan. For a more filling meal, pair it with a side of cucumber salad or raita to add a refreshing touch. These sides not only complement the robust flavors of kala chana but also provide a balanced nutrition profile, making your meal both wholesome and satisfying.

Garnishing Tips

Enhance the presentation and taste of your kala chana by garnishing it thoughtfully. A sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro or mint leaves can add a burst of freshness. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over the top for a bit of tanginess, or sprinkle some chopped green chilies if you prefer a spicier touch. For a touch of crunch, toss on some slivered ginger or onions. These garnishes not only make your dish visually appealing but also enhance the overall flavor palette.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

Preparing your kala chana ahead of time can be a great time-saver, and knowing how to store it properly will help maintain its flavor and freshness.

Refrigerating

After cooking your kala chana in the Instant Pot, allow it to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. You can safely store it in the refrigerator for up to four days. This makes it easy for you to enjoy your kala chana throughout the week, whether as a quick lunch option or a ready-to-go dinner side.

Freezing

For longer storage, freezing is an effective option. Place the cooled kala chana in a freezer-safe container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. It’s a good idea to portion the chana into individual servings or batch sizes that you’d typically use for a meal. This way, you only thaw what you need, reducing waste. Properly stored, frozen kala chana can last for up to two months. To use, simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove or microwave when ready to serve.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got the scoop on whipping up kala chana in your Instant Pot you’re all set to impress with this nutritious and flavorful dish. Remember the joy of cooking is all about experimenting so feel free to tweak the spices to suit your taste. Whether you’re serving it up with rice for a hearty dinner or scooping it with flatbreads for a satisfying lunch your kala chana is sure to be a hit. Enjoy the ease of this one-pot wonder and relish the flavors of your new favorite go-to meal. Happy cooking!

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