Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Curry Rice Bowl

Pressure cook a tangy and spicy curry right along with the brown rice in just one go by stacking the rice in the pressure cooker on top of the curry.

This recipe uses the “duplex” pressure cooking method which allows for cooking two or three (triplex) different dishes at the same time. So while a spicy curry boils in the base, the rice is gently steamed in a heat-proof dish above.

The rice is pressure cooked to fluffy perfection by steaming it in a heat-proof dish.  This leaves the base of the cooker free to cook a second dish – like a spicy chickpea curry!

Tomato, tomato?!?

When I first published this recipe in 2013 I made this curry with tomato paste -from my chickpea minestrone experience -the curry was delicious but a little bit runny. This is a very popular recipe in my household so I’ve varied it with whatever I had on hand with great success. The more “pieces” of tomatoes are in the curry the more naturally thick it becomes. The tomato product you use will vary the amount of liquid in the recipe, so adjust these ingredients as follows in the recipe according to which product you’re using:

  • Tomato Paste – use 2 tablespoons tomato paste and two cups water
  • Chopped Tomatoes (canned) – use one 14.5 oz (400g) can of chopped tomatoes and one cup of water
  • Fresh Tomatoes – use 2 1/2 cups (about 500g) of chopped tomatoes and their juice and one cup of water

The spice mix

Chana masala is a spice mix used to cook chickpeas (chana). You can pick up a package at your local Indian import store. If you don’t have one nearby, you can make your own for this recipe by adding 1/4 teaspoon of as many of these spices as you have on hand: coriander, mango powder, Pomegranate seeds, hot pepper powder, cumin, muskmelon, black pepper, fenugreek leaves, cloves, mint, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, caraway, mace and a bay leaf.

This spice mix is both spicy and tangy – with quite a bit of heat.  Though our recipe calls for two tablespoons of this mix, the box recommends almost four for the same amount of chickpeas. So this is SPICY!  Increase the quantity at your own risk.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket, heat-proof dish    18-20 min.    High(2)  Natural

5.0 from 5 reviews
Chickpea Curry with Brown Rice - pressure cooker one pot meal
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: ¼th
  • Calories: 292
  • TOTAL Fat: 5.6g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 51.6g
  • Sugar Carbs: 4.7g
  • Sodium: 945.6mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 8.1g
  • Protein: 9.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker recipe
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For a smaller pressure cooker, these quantities can easily be halved - and a smaller heat-proof dish can be used to cook the rice. When doubling the recipe, do not exceed half the pressure cooker's capacity with the chickpeas and their cooking liquid.
For Chickpea Curry:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chana masala (or see description, above)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup (250ml) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 1 can 14.5 oz (400g) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
For Bain Marie Brown Rice:
  • 1½ cups (375ml) brown rice
  • 2 cups (500g) water
  1. In a 4-cup capacity heat proof container add the rice and water. If the container does not have a handle, construct an aluminum foil sling to lower and raise it out of the pressure cooker. Set aside.
  2. In the pre-heated pressure cooker, on medium heat without the lid, add the oil and onion and saute' until it is just starting to caramelize (about 7 minutes).
  3. Add the chana masala powder, garlic, and ginger and saute' for about 30 more seconds until the garlic begins to cook.
  4. Pour in the water, chickpeas and tomato concentrate into the pressure cooker and mix well.
  5. Lower the steamer basket (or trivet) into the chickpea curry and on top of that, add the uncovered heat-proof container into the pressure cooker onto the steamer basket.
  6. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  7. Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
    Stove top pressure cookers: Lock the lid, and cook for 18 minutes at high pressure.
  8. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural pressure release.
    Electric pressure cookers: Disengage the “keep warm” mode, or unplug the cooker, and open the lid when the pressure indicator/lid-lock has gone down (about 20 to 30 minutes).
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes).
  9. Carefully lift out the heat-proof container and fluff the rice and serve on individual dishes. Mix-in the salt in the curry in the base of the cooker, and spoon it out and serve with a sprinkling of raw red onion slices and an optional dollop of low-fat yogurt.

Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Curried Chickpeas and Rice Bowl

Chickpea Curry Rice Bowl- pressure cooker and Instant Pot recipe

pressure cooker chickpea curry and brown rice recipeInstant Pot Chickpea Curry Rice Bowl

This article and the recipe had a major update August 2017, if you already made the original recipe and would like to see the original article as it was published in January 2013 you can find it here.

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  1. Wow!! I’m going to try the rice this way today!!!

    1. Latisha, let us know how you liked it!



  2. Love the idea of cooking these together in the same pot, Laura. I’ll have to try that with other dishes as well.

    1. Heather, I’m looking forward to reading your combinations!



  3. You are a genius! I am so going to try this. Happy New Year to you and your family Laura!

    1. Happy New Year Sheila! Come back to let us know how you liked it.



  4. This sounds very very delicious!!! Fabulous!

    Happy New Year to you and all others.

    1. Thanks Minnie!



  5. This sounds great and I’m going to give it a try…but I’m surprised there’s no salt in it. Do you recommend leaving salt out completely, adding it after cooking, or adding it to the chickpea / sauce before cooking?

  6. Thanks for reminding me! Great recipe for meatless days. I have several of the MDH mixes including this one. MDH mixes usually contain (way too much)salt but they’re tasty.


    1. Ah…that explains why there’s no salt. I used my own spices and added salt before cooking, but the chickpeas came out a bit firm, so next time I think I’ll add the salt after cooking.

    2. The mix DOES contain salt, but since I didn’t use the recommended amount of the mix the end result was a little lacking.

      Your comment reminded me that I tasted the chickpeas and they needed about a teaspoon of salt before serving. I have updated the recipe – but definitely recommend tasting before adding the salt.

      Ciao and I hope you enjoy it!


  7. Laura, I just made the curry and the chick peas are very “watery.” Is it supposed to be that way? Believe it or not I had all the spices except for the pommagranate seeds.
    Definitely HOT so sauercream or yogurt is a MUST!
    The rice as well looked watery but I fluffed it and then put a tea cloth over it and I am sure it will be fine.

    I ordered a green silicone trivet on line and used that as a grabber to remove everything from the cooker. Worked well. I has handles to grab on to. PS: The house smells amazing and
    can hardly wait for lunchtime! Mary in New Hampshire

    1. Mary, the curry will be a little watery. To make it a little creamier, you can zap it with an immersion blender for 30 seconds to puree’ a few chickpeas.

      It should not be VERY watery.

      I’m impressed by your well-stocked spice rack!!

      What brown rice variety are you using?



  8. Thanks for your comments. I use short grain brown rice from the healthfood store. The rice was perfect when I was ready to eat. The tea towel always does the trick. The nice thing about our health food store is that you can buy as little as
    2 T. of any herb/spice. They have a whole pantry of the above. Yes it was watery. Once I layered the rice and chickpeas it was fine. I would like to throw in some more cickpeas next time and use the immersion blender. I have to say that you have expanded my horizons with the pressure cooker! Thanks. Mary in NH

  9. One more thing! Your photography is beautiful and well done.
    Fifty years ago my sister and sister in law worked in the home service dept of True Story Magazine in NYC. I used to hang around and noticed the talent it took to photograph food.
    Loved it when they were baking……… It was the first time I ever had tasted Carrot Cake and Peanut Blossom Cookies. Long ago and far away…………

    1. Yes.. it’s not easy. For the website I can be a little free-er doing photos for my up-coming cookbook involves a whole new set of lighting and editing equipment. Thank you!


  10. I made this, it tasted great and the rice was cooked properly, but I’d have to agree with the comments that is was very watery. I think there needs to be something in the mix to thicken the sauce at the end.

    1. You can puree’ some of the chickpeas to make it creamier.



  11. Hi, I’m from India and we make Chickpea/ Chana masala quite frequently at home. I would like to suggest a few tips:

    1. Chickpeas should be soaked overnight in water or atleast for 3-4 hours before you pressure cook them so that they become soft.
    2. to thicken the gravy you can add a pureed tomato or a pureed tomato + onion.
    3. If you don’t mind the extra calories, the gravy can be thickened by adding fresh cream before removing the curry from the flame.

    Happy eating!

    1. Mrudu,

      Thanks for your expert suggestions!! I’m always looking for an excuse to add cream. ; )



  12. The colours, the colours! This looks absolutely delicious and it’s a one-pot meal, too??

  13. This worked out perfectly. My cooker is a 10 psi Pressure Magic, and at the slightly lower pressure, the cook time was 25 minutes to perfect chickpeas. I used brown basmati, and it worked perfectly with the time and proportions you provided. I’m cheating on my Crock Pot with my pressure cooker a lot more lately, thanks to you!

    1. Thanks for sharing the pressure cooking time that worked for you. So glad to have sparked an affair with the pressure cooker!

      The slow cooker can now serve as a beautiful door-stop! ; )



  14. You picture an insert with handles in the photos for this recipe that looks very useful. It is also pictured in the accessories, but I cannot find a full description of this item. Can you tell me what this insert is and where they can be purchased?

    1. Hi Wendy, it was not easy to find that container! It is a stainless steel Indian lunch-box without the lid – though I do use it when storing left-overs. I cannot seem to find the exact same thing online, but I found something very close here:

      I recommend going to your local Indian import food mart, to see if they have something similar.



    2. Hi
      My husband purchased one of those insets with the handles from a camping store here in Australia, its a stainless steel cooking set with collapsable handle, it had 3 parts to it in the set.

      Hope this helps

  15. Does using this technique exchange flavors between the two dishes? I ask because I typically make some sort of grain dish and an unassociated bean stew on weekends to have on hand for the week. So does the rice end up tasting somwhat like the beans and visa versa? What about using a really foamy grain like oat groats? Would it make your frijoles taste like oatmeal?! Just wondering how far one can run with this.

    1. Suzanne,

      The flavor concentration in steam is 1/1600th the strength of the liquid that generated it. Unless the beans splash into the grains above – there will be no detectable cross-contamination of flavor using this method.

      I can’t speak directly to groats because I don’t have any direct experience with them – but you should probably cover them with some kind of grate or netting as one reader does with his oat meal:

      That’s covering it just enough so the foam doesn’t spray onto the lid and safety valves- but not enough to slow down the cooking.

      Come back to tell us about what you cooked together and… we have a new feature (see below the comment box) that lets you post a picture of it, too!



  16. Does the food positioned underneath the heat-proof container cook more slowly if there is no air space between it and the heat-proof container? Or will both dishes cook as thoroughly and quickly if the heat-proof container is sitting against or even somewhat submerged in the stew below? I’m wondering how high relative to the bottom layer of food you need to elevate the top layer of food. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

    1. Suzanne, air is the enemy of cooking heat . It insulates and prevents things that would otherwise be wet from cooking faster. Your pressure cooker, for example, vents about 95% of the air out before it begins to reach pressure (dry air being replaced with wet steam is part of the magic of pressure cookery).

      Having the bain marie container set a little lower, into the boiling liquid (or stew) below, does not make the stew cook slower, but it makes the contents of the container cook faster since the bowl is now in direct contact with liquid instead of steam.

      The wetter the cooking, the faster the transfer of heat.

      The true trick is matching the cooking times of the dish boiling below and the one in the container above so that you’re saving energy, time and, most of all, effort!



  17. Okay. I get it. Your explanation is quite clear.

    Does the perforated plate (steamer basket) between the rice container and the chickpeas cause the food in the bottom layer to cook more slowly because it partially blocks the steam from the top half of the cooker? Or does it slow down the cooking of the rice because it forms a partial barrier to the heat coming up from the burner? I’m trying to understand this process well because I cook beans and whole grains every weekend. The possibility of finishing beans and grains in one pot in a third of the time really gets my attention!

    Also, is the rice boiling during cooking, necessitating a container with tall enough sides to prevent the boiling rice from splashing over? Thanks for your clear instruction!

    1. Suzanne, I think we’ve gotten to the point that you should just try it! ; )



  18. Holy cholle!!!! I christened my electric pressure cooker with this recipe (just the beans as I don’t yet have an insert tray). It was FAB. I thickened up,the curry by puréeing a bit of the peas and sauce and stirred it back in. I Faldo added some cilantro and cayenne at the end before serving. I like It spicy and while I used the MDH brand instead of making the masala from scratch, I still wanted more kick. This is a keeper!! Thanks for the recipe!!

  19. I made this today. It was fantastic! I made my own Chana Masala powder from this website: Be sure to add the two teaspoon each of ginger powder, and paprika, ( I used smoked paprika) as it is not listed in the recipe ingredients, only in the directions. I am so loving my Instant Pot. This website is so helpful.

  20. I’d love to try this, but I’m not sure how tall the trivet needs to be. Should the container of rice be partly immersed in the chickpeas, or sitting even with the surface, or elevated above them? Thanks for the clarification.

  21. By chance I used this same MDH mix this weekend, but I followed the box directions and pressure cooked the beans separately. It defeats the “one pot meal” idea–but has the advantage I don’t have to presoak the garbanzos, yet can eat in 45m.

  22. Can canned chickpeas be used?

  23. This looks amazing. I just received my IP and have soaked chickpeas. Can you tell me about tomato concentrate? Tomato sauce, paste? I’m not familiar with concentrate. Thanks.

    1. It’s tomato paste. : ) Also, I’ve been meaning to add a variation that I make of this quite often – instead of tomato paste I use one cup of chopped tomatoes and their liquid (fresh or canned) and reduce the water from 2 cups to 1 cup. I make this at least once every two weeks – it’s all veg. so it can be set-up earlier in the day and the cooking can be delayed to just before you come home.



  24. I wanted chickpea soup, so I made this with 3 cups of water instead of 2 (and I didn’t do the rice part). I had to cook it an extra 8 minutes for the chickpeas to be done (even though I had quick-soaked them, with natural release). It came out watery. Then I mashed some chickpeas with a potato masher, and the next day it was quite thick! I also had added 1/2 cup of half-and-half, and it was delicious. I was able to find the box of chana masala in an Indian/Pakistani store.

  25. I really like this recipe!! I have made it many times to the letter but also really like to add a diced up sweet potato to the chickpea mixture for sweetness. Please keep up the delicious and innovative recipes! Thank you Laura!

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