This luscious and creamy Instant Pot chickpea curry recipe comes together in about 15 minutes and is totally plant-based! Vegans and omnivores alike will love the flavor and richness of this recipe. It’s the perfect dish for busy weeknights or a meatless Monday.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post I developed for Forager Project. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.
Why I Love This Instant Pot Chickpea Curry Recipe
I can still remember the first curry I ever had – peanut coconut curry noodle dish from a local Thai restaurant – brb drooling. Weirdly enough, I was kind of nervous to try it – Would it be spicy? Would I enjoy it?
If you’ve ever felt hesitant about trying a new food or dish, you’re not alone and you’re not weird – but trying some unfamiliar dishes can make life a lot more fun. If you’ve never tried curry before, this is a great recipe to start with! It’s easy to prepare, healthy, it requires fairly simple ingredients, and is so creamy (with just the right amount of spice).
This is one of those recipes that left me sad after eating it. Like… I didn’t want it to end.
Benefits of Plant-Based Ingredients
All of the ingredients in this pressure cooker chickpea curry recipe are vegan (aka plant-based), but I promise you won’t miss the meat or dairy. Seriously. Thoughtfully prepared, high-quality ingredients just taste good – even when they’re plant-based. Opening up your mind (and your palate) to plant-based meals can improve your health and the health of the planet.
- Reducing cardiovascular disease risk
- Lowering the risk of certain cancers
- Reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Improving the blood sugars of people who already have diabetes
Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and pulses (i.e. beans, peas, and lentils) also use less land and water than animal foods while releasing fewer greenhouse gases. (3) Pretty cool.
Cooking Tips + FAQs
What is curry?
Curry is actually a very broad term. It can mean a spice, a dish, or a legit curry leaf. The curry spice mix you find in the store (and the one I used in this recipe) contains turmeric, coriander, ginger, cumin, and cloves. Curry dishes include curry spice and include some rich and luxurious sauce, plus meat and/or vegetables. Curries are made in so many cultures, including Indian, Thai, Indonesian, and English, to name a handful, so there are endless variations out there. (For more history and information, see this fantastic The Spruce Eats post about curry.)
Does curry need to be blended?
No! If you don’t have a blender or you would rather not blend the sauce, that’s totally fine. Blending the sauce makes this dish thicker and creamier, but it will still be delicious if it’s a little bit chunkier and not blended. The yogurt and coconut milk both do a great job making this dish luscious and creamy.
How do you adjust the spice level in a curry?
Traditionally, curries include chili peppers. I didn’t include them in mine because I couldn’t find them at my usual grocery store. I added spice to this recipe with cayenne pepper. In comparison to other curries I’ve had, this one is very mild as written. To make this recipe spicier, you can add more cayenne pepper, red chili paste, or peppers as a garnish. To make your curry less spicy, cut the cayenne in half or omit it.
Why use cashew yogurt in curry?
Cashew yogurt makes the sauce in this instant pot chickpea curry recipe rich and creamy without adding dairy. I enjoy this cashew yogurt because it’s plain, unsweetened and has a thick enough mouthfeel and tang to feel like dairy yogurt. Plus – yogurt adds probiotics!
Why add cashews to curry?
Cashews are a great way to add creaminess and thicker texture to vegan recipes. The sauce for this curry is very rich and thick. If you’d like it to have a thinner sauce like a traditional curry, add half of the cashews or omit them. Cashew cream can be made fairly easily by soaking cashews in hot water, then blending them. (If you’re curious about using cashew cream in a dessert, check out my Half-Baked Greek Yogurt Cheesecake recipe!)
To make this coconut cashew curry recipe quicker and easier to make, I did not soak the cashews before adding them to the recipe and blending them. Raw cashews will still blend nicely in the sauce. If you prefer a silkier texture to your sauce, I would recommend soaking them for an hour before making this recipe.
What if the mixture sticks to the bottom of the Instant Pot?
Be sure to add enough olive oil when cooking your onions and spices. Also, remember to turn off the Instant Pot after step 2. Lastly, thoroughly scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot with a spoon and stir right before sealing. Adding more liquid (water and/or coconut milk) will also help prevent this issue.
- Make it with chicken – Pre-cook de-boned chicken thighs before step 1.
- Make it with tofu – Dice tofu and sear on all sides using Instant Pot using sauté mode before step 1.
- Make it with dry chickpeas – Soak dry chickpeas in hot water for 1 hour before cooking.
- Make it spicier – Add more cayenne pepper, red chili paste, or peppers as a garnish.
- Make it less spicy – To make your curry less spicy, cut the cayenne in half or omit it.
- Make it smoother in texture – Soak cashews for 1 hour in hot water before adding to the recipe and blending.
- Make it with dairy-based yogurt – Substitute your favorite plain, unsweetened yogurt.
- Make it nut-free – Omit the cashews and use dairy yogurt instead of cashewmilk yogurt.
- Make it in the crockpot – Sauté onions and spices in a pan, then resume with step 3 in a crockpot or slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.
- Make it on the stovetop – This recipe will cook just fine without a pressure cooker! Use a large pot for steps 1-3, and instead of the pressure cooking in step 4, simmer uncovered on low for 10 minutes.
- Make it lower in calories – This recipe contains plenty of healthy fats, but to make it a bit lighter, cut the cashews in half or omit them. You can also use light coconut milk instead of full-fat.
- Make it with more veggies – This recipe would welcome more veggies! Add diced sweet potatoes, bell peppers, or green peas during step 1.
Instant Pot Chickpea Curry with Cashews
- pressure cooker
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup cashews raw, unsalted
- 1 can coconut milk divided
- 2 cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 2 cups spinach roughly chopped
- 1 cup Forager cashew yogurt plain, unsweetened
- 1 tsp salt
- Turn Instant Pot on sauté mode (medium heat). Add olive oil, onions, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add curry powder, ginger, and cayenne and continue sautéing for 1 minute, stirring and scraping continuously.
- Turn off Instant Pot. Add cashews and 1/2 of the coconut milk. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Using a ladle, add about half of the contents of the Instant Pot into a blender and blend until smooth. Return blended mixture to the Instant Pot.
- Add remaining coconut milk and water as needed to reach your desired consistency. (This may not be needed if you prefer a thicker curry.)
- Add chickpeas. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, seal it, and set to Manual mode, high pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release when the cycle is complete.
- Stir the mixture and scape any browned bits from the bottom. Add spinach and yogurt. Stir until spinach is wilted and yogurt is thoroughly incorporated. Taste and add salt as needed.
- Serve over basmati rice or with naan bread. Top with a lime wedge and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.