Chana Saag is a vegetarian chickpea curry cooked with greens in a tangy onion-tomato-based sauce that is perfectly spiced with turmeric, cumin seeds, and garam masala. In this Instant Pot recipe, I am also sharing how to cook pot-in-pot rice along with chickpeas. A perfect weeknight gluten-free meal that can be easily made vegan!
Original recipe published in April 2017 is updated with new photos, a video, and tips.
Cooked in under 30 minutes, using a few basic ingredients, this Instant Pot Chana Saag is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A sprinkle of homemade garam masala gives perfect warmth to this dish and the tangy flavors from dry mango powder round up the flavors really well.
In addition to the restaurant-style Chana Masala, this chana saag dish is a staple for weeknight meals and also a good make-ahead dish for pot lucks and dinner parties.
Since I started cooking in the Instant Pot, I am attempting many of my stove-top dishes in it. I love that classic Indian vegetarian dishes such as Spinach Daal, Dum Aloo, and Palak Paneer that are so quick and effortless in the Instant Pot. And now I am excited to share my stove-top Chana Saag recipe Using the Instant Pot!
Why I love making Chana Saag in the Instant Pot
✔️ Hands-free recipe that is ready in 30 minutes
✔️ You can make it with canned or dried chickpeas by simply increasing the cooking time
✔️ Make pot-in-pot rice at the same time for a complete meal
What is Saag
Saag refers to leafy green vegetables like mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach. Since spinach is more readily available, that is my go-to green for this recipe. But you can also use other leafy greens such as mustard greens, beet leaves, swiss chard, or kale.
Ingredients for Chana Saag
Here are some of the main ingredients you will need for this recipe:
- Chickpeas - I am using canned chickpeas in this recipe but you can use dry chickpeas instead. Please see my notes in the recipe card below for tips on using dried chickpeas.
- Greens - I love to add boxed baby spinach but you can also use kale, mustard greens, or a mix.
- Tomatoes - Diced fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes with liquids work well.
- Ginger and Garlic Paste - I prefer using homemade ginger and garlic paste but storebought ones work equally well too.
- Spices - Garam Masala, Mild Kashmiri Red Chili, and Turmeric are all that you will need. If you do not have dry mango powder, simply squeeze some fresh lemon in the end.
Easy steps to make Instant Pot Chana Saag
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode and add ghee and onions. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add ginger, garlic, ground cumin, turmeric, red chili powder, and salt. (photos 1 - 2)
- Stir the spices. Add tomatoes and chickpeas (photos 3 - 4)
- Add chickpeas, and water, and mix well (photos 5 - 6)
- Place a tall trivet. Add 1 cup basmati rice, 1.5 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt to a stainless steel pot. You can also add ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1 bay leaf. Place a tall trivet in the Instant Pot and place the rice pot over it (photos 7 - 8).
- Carefully take out the rice pot and the trivet. Add amchur powder(or lemon juice) & garam masala (photos 9 - 10).
- Add spinach and set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Cook for 2 minutes or just until the spinach starts to cook down. Turn the Instant Pot off to avoid overcooking the spinach (photos 11 - 12).
How to serve Chana Saag
Serve with roti, homemade parathas or fluffy warm pita bread. For gluten-free options, serve with basmati rice or brown rice. Cooling beetroot raita pairs really well with the spicy flavors of this curry. And don’t forget to make the refreshing mango lassi that the kids and adults will love!
Substitutes and Variations
- I love to cook pot- in-pot rice along with chana saag when using canned chickpeas. The cook time for canned chickpeas and rice is the same making it a great option for a whole meal. Add 1 cup basmati rice, 1.5 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt to a stainless steel pot and place over the tall trivet
- Prefer using dry chickpeas? Go ahead and soak them in water overnight. When cooking add an extra half a cup of water and increase the pressure cooking time to 25 minutes followed by a 10-minute natural pressure release. You can make pot-in-pot brown rice when using soaked chickpeas as they have a similar cook time to brown rice. Add 1 cup brown rice, and 1.5 cups of water to a stainless steel pot, and place over the tall trivet
- To make Vegan Chana Saag, simply substitute ghee with neutral cooking oil
- Substitute spinach with your favorite greens like finely chopped kale, swiss chard, or beet leaves
Chana saag can be refrigerated for 5 days making it a perfect make ahead curry. For longer shelf life, freeze it. To reheat simply allow it to thaw and then reheat it in the microwave or stovetop in a pan.
More Indian vegetarian recipes You'll Love
- Daal Makhani – Copy cat Madras Lentils Recipe
- Spinach Dal & Rice – Creamy lentils with rice cooked pot in pot
- Chana Masala – A classic restaurant fav dish
- Curried Black-eyed peas – Easy Instant Pot Recipe
- Creamy Dill Lentils – Best way to enjoy dill with lots of garlic
Instant Pot Chana Saag
- 1 15 oz canned chickpeas rinsed and drained, **
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil for vegan
- 1 small yellow onion finely diced
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder or paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium tomato diced
- ⅓ cup water **
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon aamchoor powder dry mango powder or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4-6 cups fresh baby spinach chopped
Pot in Pot Rice (Optional) **
- 1 cup Basmati Rice rinsed and drained
- 1½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- Turn Instant Pot to saute mode and heat ghee. Add onions and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes with a glass lid on.
- Add ginger, garlic, cumin powder, turmeric, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well.
- Add tomatoes and mix everything together. Add chickpeas and water. Mix well.
The following step to cook pot in pot rice is optional
- Place a tall trivet. Add basmati rice, water, salt to a stainless steel pot. You can also add cumin seeds and bay leaf. Place a tall trivet in the Instant Pot and place the rice pot over it
- Close Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing position. Pressure cook for 4 minutes.
- Allow 5-minute natural pressure release or if you have time Natural Pressure Release works too. Open the Instant Pot and set it on Saute mode.
- Add garam masala and dry mango powder. Add Spinach. Mix everything together and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve hot with rice or Parathas.
- To make vegan Chana Saag, simply substitute ghee with oil.
- Substitute spinach with your favorite greens like finely chopped kale, swiss chard, or beet leaves.
- For low carb options serve with cauliflower rice.
- Soak 1 cup dry chickpeas in warm water overnight. Drain the water.
- Add an extra ½ cup of water and increase the pressure cook to 25 minutes followed by a 10-minute natural pressure release.
- You can also make pot-in-pot brown rice when using soaked chickpeas as they have a similar cook time to brown rice. Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained brown rice, 1.5 cups of water to a stainless steel pot, and place over the tall trivet.
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What if you wanted to add paneer to it? Would you recommend adding it in here (and when) or would you recommend trying to make it in the Instant Pot (if so do you have a recipe)? Thanks!
Caroline, I am not sure about chickpeas and paneer together but spinach goes very well with paneer. There is a Palak Paneer recipe on my blog that you might want to take a look at.
Also how would this work with dry chickpeas? Just soak overnight and add?
Caroline, I actually start with dry chickpeas most of the times. I soak them overnight and the cook time is Manual(Hi) 25 mins instead of Manual(Hi0 5 mins for canned. I do prefer the overnight soaked chickpeas. Have so much freshness to them. Hope this helps. I have also more details in the actual recipe. Let me know if you have any other questions. Let me know how you like this yummy dish!
What about amount of water?
For soaking use 4 cups of water for 1 cup of chickpeas.
Archana-I made this chana saag. Tasty and flavorful. But to answer Caroline-I used dried chick peas that I soaked in warm water for almost 18 hrs. I used the high manual setting for 25 mins. The chick peas were cooked but not soft and tender enough for my liking so I gave it an additional15 minutes of manual high cooking and they came out just as I wanted them to be-intact but soft and easily crushed between fingers. Other than taking so long, the prep is easy and the dish is flavorful.
Kalyani, so glad that you enjoyed this dish! I agree that pee soaking in warm water is the way to go! And yes depending on how soft you like them you can definitely increase cook time. The key is to stir in the spinach in the end to keep the bright green color. Thank you again for trying my recipes and your valuable feedback!
What is that lovely pink colored side? Yogurt?
Thank you Kara! That is beetroot raita, made with yogurt and roasted/steamed beets. Goes really well with curries and other Indian food. Here is how to make it - http://ministryofcurry.com/roasted-beetroot-and-cucumber-salad/
Karyn T. says
Doubled the recipe for the four of us + leftovers. Very tasty - I swapped out 1.5 cups of diced, canned tomatoes & a 12 oz. package of frozen/chopped spinach. My chili powder from Lotte is VERY hot (!) and even though I doubled the recipe, I only added 1 tsp to suit our spice needs. I added more garam masala too because I like the aromatics.
Karyn, So glad you enjoyed this. I agree canned tomatoes and chopped frozen spinach comes in very handy! And yes more garam masala is always good. I have few other IP recipes with garam masala that you might enjoy!
This looks amazing! What quantity of dried chickpeas do you soak? A full bag (16 oz)? Thanks so much.
I have a family of 4, I usually soak a cup of dry chickpeas which after soaking is almost 2-1/2 cups. Also dry chickpeas have a long shelf life.
Thank you! I soaked a whole bag so I guess some hummus is in my future. 🙂
LOVE hummus!! Also double the chana saag recipe. It tastes great the next day!
This dish was amazing! I accidentally added the garam masala with the other spices but it didn't seem to matter. Why is it added at the end?
Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. It is on my favorites list for sure!
Thank you for letting me know! So glad you enjoyed this dish. I agree with you that it does not seem to matter when you put garam masala. The only reason I add in the end is to make it more or less spicy and aromatic. Also since I toast my spices for the garam masala, it do not need to be sautéed again with the remaining ingredients.
Heather, Chickpea Biryani is another idea for you with your extra soaked chickpeas!
If I am using pre soaked chole (1 cup), how much water do I need to add? Love the recipe and I am going to try it tomorrow
Add about 1/3 cup of water. You need just enough for the IP to come to pressure. If there is extra water in the end, just put IP on saute for few mins and it will evaporate. Let me know how it comes out.
This is SO GOOD. Used dried chickpeas soaked overnight and the 25 minute mark worked nicely. The 2nd time I made it I used 22 minutes and let the pressure release naturally, also turned out great. Both times I doubled the recipe and the leftovers went quickly.
Might I make a modest suggestion to include the chickpea amount in cups as well as canned? E.g instead of
1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups soaked chickpeas (from approximately 1 cup dry)
would have saved me some googling 🙂
Hi Karl! I am so happy that you enjoyed this recipe. I agree with you on the amounts in cups and cans. In fact I am working on a black eyed pea curry recipe and I have amounts for dry and soaked. I will also fix this recipe so it is easier to follow. Thank you for your valuable inputs and feedback.
I second Karl's request! Also...I am so excited to have come across your blog. I am trying to incorporate more Instantpot AND vegetarian meals, so your blog covers both of my needs very well. I noticed when making the Aloo Ghobi (which was lovely) that you used 1/4 cup water and here the recipe calls for 1/3 cup. I thought the Instantpot NEEDED to have a minimum of 1 cup of liquid? I am afraid of burning the bottom. I definitely doubled or tripled the water for the Aloo...
Hi Heather! Thank you for your feedback. I have update this recipe to include measurements for soaked chickpeas. I agree that Instant Pot needs 1 cup of liquids but it does not have to be all water. Many veggie release a lot of water as they are cooked. Especially cauliflower has a lot of water contents and just 1-2 tablespoon of water is also good enough. Since there is no evaporation of water in Instant Pot, less water works great of these vegetable dishes. Hope this helps
Do you think you can add Swiss chard instead of spinach ?
Absolutely! Just choose it very fine and discard stems
Hi Archana, loved this recipe, as did my family. Looking forward to trying your other Instant Pot recipes as well! Noticed that the salt is missing in the ingredient list, btw. Also, when you use the "Saute" mode here, do you use the Low, the Medium or the High temperature? Would be helpful to add that to the recipe. Thanks!
Salt is listed in the ingredients and recipe. And for Indian food it’s usually sauté more - I will add that to the recipe. Thank you for your feedback and I hope you will enjoy other recipes as well.
Hi Archana. How much water do we add to the indian pot if we are using the pre-soaked dry chickpeas?
Hi Michelle 1 cup soaked chickpeas, 1 to 1.5 cups water works well. I also like them cooked soft so 35 mins works well.
Teresa Crispin says
In this post you state the need to added 1 to 1.5 cups water along with 1 cup soaked chickpeas but in a previous post (5/17/17 @ 7:19am) you stated 1/3 cup water.
I'm very confused. If I follow your recipe to soak a cup of dry chickpeas overnight which should yield about 2 cups pre-soaked beans, how much water should I add to the Instant Pot using this quantity of pre-soaked beans?
Sorry for the confusion.
The 1 to 1.5 cups of water is needed for the rice if you are cooking pot in pot rice at the same time as the chickpeas.
If you just want to cook chickpeas, then you still can follow the same old recipe, with canned chickpeas and use 1/3 cup fo water.
Also if you are using soaked chickpeas, you need to add 1/3 cup of water.
Hope this is clear.
I doubled the recipe but I made the mistake of doubling the water which made it soupy. I’ll still eat it but for next time I want to try to figure out the right amount of water. How much water do you think would be good for a double recipe...1/2 cup maybe? Or maybe don’t increase the water since there are more tomatoes? What do you think?
Few tips - 1. If the curry looks soupy, you can set the Instant Pot to saute mode and cook without the lid for additional 5 mins. Most of the extra liquids will evaporate. 2. Do not double the water as there are double the tomatoes which release a lot of water.
Linda Email says
Hi: I have an IP but I prefer a stovetop pressure cooker. I'd love if you could give directions for those too!
Michael D. says
Delicious. My 8 year old daughter ranks it as “a winner”!
Thank you! Your feedback makes me so happy!!
Thank you for the wonderful recipe! My grocery store sells 5-oz bags of baby spinach. Do you have an idea of how many bags I would need to make 4-6C of chopped spinach?
I must admit I am confused at red chili powder... ancho chili powder like Mexican cooking or cayenne pepper?
Any mild red chili powder works
Made it today, turned out really well, my chick pea was bigger than the one you used. Tasted delicious with boiled rice. Thank you.
Awesome!! Thank you for the feedback
Made this for dinner tonight and it's easy & delish - just the kind of recipe I love! The nutritional info provided is WAY OFF though. The chick peas alone average over 100 cals & 20 grams of carbs for .5 cup. Are you sure they were included in the nutritional calculations?
Hi Barb! Thank you for the feedback. I am so glad you enjoyed the flavors. I will double check the nutritional info and update if necessary.
I love this recipe and make it (usually doubled) often. I eat it for lunch almost daily in the cold months. I love it exactly the way it is. But I made a variation this week that ...WOW
This week I was prepping a double batch and on my counter I had a largish delicata squash and decided to add it to the pot. Cubed, not peeled. About 3-4 cups of cubes?
I increased the time to 8 min and increased water from 2/3 cup (double batch) to a full cup. I did a quick release
At first I thought I had gone too long and used too much water because most of the squash was falling apart and it was almost soup like, but after stirring, the squash flesh thickened everything into a lovely thick gravy and the whole dish took on a slightly sweeter nutty flavor. Really fantastic as a variation. The peels were still in their pieces, but I didnt mind the texture and delicata peel is very tender and flavorful. Any other winter squash I would peel.
Thank you! LOVE your variation, so healthy and yummy.