Chana pulao or chana rice is an easy one-pot affair in the instant pot. Rice, chickpeas, fried onions, and spices come together in a protein-packed vegan pulao that pairs well with a fresh salad. A dead-simple recipe that's going to save you lots of time in the kitchen. Both instant pot and stovetop instructions included.
If you are into Indian vegetarian recipes made in the instant pot, do check out this collection of 30+ tried and tested recipes: Instant Pot Indian Vegetarian Recipes.
This chickpea pulao is my go-to recipe when I want a seriously quick and painless brunch or dinner but also one that's tasty and filling. It's also perfect for the lunchbox.
Chickpeas are extremely versatile and when added to rice in a pulao, they taste so good! I love the nutty, earthy taste of chickpeas and what better way to cook them than with good quality Basmati rice and a few spices and aromatics?
This is a chana pulao without tomatoes. If you like tomatoes, you can go ahead and add them, but they will change the taste and I feel they are not needed in this recipe. Why add more ingredients if we can do without them?
For this recipe, my aim was to make short work of everything, so I used readymade ingredients instead of prepping things from scratch.
- Rice - Indian pulao or biryani (rice-based dishes) are only as good as the rice used. It is a make or break kind of situation. I always use long-grain, aromatic white Basmati rice for all my rice preparations. Tilda (affiliate link) is a good brand, but any other reputable brand will do as well. Pakistani rice is also good, and it is available in most grocery stores in Canada. If you have a Pakistani grocery near your place, check it out for the vast variety of rice they carry.
- Chickpeas - Chickpeas are also called kabuli chana. You can cook dry chickpeas in your instant pot (here's a post on how to cook chickpeas, if you're interested), or use a can. For this recipe, I used a can, of course. Any brand will do.
- Fried onions - You can take the long route and slice and fry two medium-sized onions until caramelised, but I always keep a bag of pre-fried onions at hand for quick cooking. Again, fried onions are available easily in Indian or Pakistani groceries as well as in the international aisles of most hypermarkets.
- Ginger paste - Mince your own or buy bottled paste, available in most hypermarkets. I went with bottled paste here. If making your own, peel a two inch piece of ginger, chop it roughly, then grind it along with two tablespoons water for a smooth paste. You need one and a half tablespoons for this recipe. Alternatively, if making a paste out of ginger is too much work, chop it very, very fine and put this into the pulao.
- Whole spices - A couple of bay leaves, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, and red chilli flakes. If you don't have the whole spices, you can also make do with one-fourth teaspoon powdered garam masala and red chilli flakes.
- Salt to taste and a neutral cooking oil like canola.
How to make chana pulao in the instant pot
- Rinse and drain the rice. Then, open the can of chickpeas and rinse and drain the chickpeas too. Keep aside.
- Heat the oil in steel insert of your instant pot (sauté function) and add the whole spices.
- When the spices start sizzling, add the pre-fried onions and ginger paste and fry for a minute only. Add a few splashes of water to prevent the ginger from sticking to the pot.
- Add the chickpeas, salt, and rice along with 2.5 cups water. Deglaze the pot and secure the lid.
- Pressure cook for 6 minutes on high. Wait 10 minutes before releasing the rest of the steam and open the pot.
- Fluff the rice and serve the pulao while still warm.
What is the ratio of rice to water?
The amount of water you put depends on the amount of rice. The rule of thumb while using an instant pot is to put one and a quarter cup water for every one cup dry rice. Since we are measuring two cups rice in this recipe, the water should be two and a half cups in quantity. This ratio works very well for white Basmati rice. The rice turns out soft and fluffy every time!
If you're making this chickpea pulao on the stovetop, add an extra half a cup water to make up for the loss through evaporation.
How to make chana pulao on the stovetop
- Follow the same steps as in the instant pot. However, when you come to the step of adding water, make sure you measure 3 cups of water. You need slightly more water while cooking rice on the stovetop as opposed to a pressure cooker.
- When the water starts boiling, lower the heat and let the rice cook until most of the water has been absorbed. Now, cover the saucepan with a lid and switch off the heat. Leave the saucepan on the hob for 10 to 15 minutes. The rice will finish cooking in the residual heat and become soft. Remove the lid, fluff the rice and serve the pulao warm.
Tips and substitutions
- Keep to the rice and water ratio mentioned above.
- Chop the ginger finely and use this if you don't have ginger paste.
- Instead of whole spices, you can use ¼ teaspoon powdered garam masala.
- If you want a richer taste, add ¾ cup vegetable broth but remember to keep the total amount of liquid the same.
Chickpea pulao tastes even nicer if you have it with a fresh salad (onions, tomatoes, lettuce), or raita (a yogurt dip).
How to make raita
Note: Chana pulao itself is vegan, but if you are going to have it with the yogurt raita, it will make the recipe non-vegan.
Take one cup yogurt in a bowl, add a teaspoonful roasted and ground cumin, half a teaspoon red chilli powder, salt and a pinch of sugar. Add a few tablespoons of water to thin the yogurt and whisk until smooth.
Roasted and ground cumin tastes lovely in raita, so if you have a little time (maybe while the pulao is cooking), do make it. You only need one teaspoon in the yogurt, but I always make more and store it in the pant ry in a small sealed glass bottle. All you have to do is to dry roast the cumin seeds in a small frypan until they start turning darker in color and you can smell their aroma distinctly. Take them off the heat, let them cool down a bit, then grind to a semi-fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder.
More instant pot vegetarian rice recipes
- Paneer Biryani - This 100% vegetarian biryani has soft cubes of Indian cottage cheese layered with Basmati rice. It has the same great taste of a true biryani minus the meat.
- Kashmiri Pulao - A sweet and fragrant rice dish from Kashmir that will put your senses in a tizzy! Is that any surprise with ingredients like ghee, saffron, fresh fruit, almonds, and raisins?
- Mushroom Pulao - Like chickpeas, mushrooms have an earthy flavor, and when you cook them with rice to make a moist and fragrant pulao? Mmm...
- Lemon Rice - A beautiful, sunshine-yellow dish with anti-inflammatory turmeric and the crunch of roasted peanuts and lentils.
- 6-quart Instant Pot Duo
- 3 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3-4 cloves
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes or 3-4 dried red chillies
- 1 cup pre-fried onions
- 1.5 tablespoon ginger paste
- salt to taste
- 1 can chickpeas 19 fl. oz, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups Basmati rice rinsed and drained
Instant Pot Instructions
- Switch on your instant pot to sauté and add all the whole spices and red chilli flakes.
- Let the spices sizzle in the oil for a few seconds, then add the pre-fried onions and ginger paste. Fry for a minute only, adding a few splashes of water to prevent the ginger from sticking to the pot.
- Add the chickpeas, salt, rice and 2.5 cups water. Cancel sauté, deglaze the pot and secure the lid.
- Make sure the steam release vent is sealed, press the pressure cooking button (high), and set the timer to six minutes.
- When the timer beeps, wait for 10 minutes at least, then release the rest of the steam.
- Open the pot and fluff the rice. Serve hot with some raita and/or salad.
- Heat the oil on medium heat in a large saucepan and add all the whole spices and red chilli flakes.
- Let the spices sizzle in the oil for a few seconds, then add the pre-fried onions and ginger paste. Fry for a minute only, adding a few splashes of water to prevent the ginger from sticking to the saucepan.
- Add the chickpeas, salt, rice and 3 cups water. When the liquid starts bubbling, reduce the heat and let the rice cook until most of the water has been absorbed.
- Switch off the heat and cover the saucepan with a lid. Leave the saucepan on the hob for 10-15 minutes. The rice will become tender in the residual heat from the hob. Remove the lid, fluff the rice and serve hot with raita or a salad.
- If you don't have ginger paste, just chop about two tablespoons of fresh ginger root very finely and use this.
- Don't have individual whole spices? Add ¼ teaspoon powdered garam masala.
- If you want the pulao to have a richer taste, add about ¾ cup vegetable broth. Just remember, the total liquid should still be 2.5 cups for the instant pot and 3 cups for the stovetop .
- To make the raita, take one cup yogurt in a bowl and add one teaspoon roasted and ground cumin, half teaspoon red chilli powder, salt, and a pinch of sugar. Whisk until smooth.
- Find ingredients in the international aisle of a hypermarket or an Indian/Pakistani grocery near you.