Instant Pot chickpeas Kapama is a plant-based twist on a traditional Greek-style recipe featuring chickpeas cooked in a simple, savory tomato-cinnamon sauce.
more chickpeas, please
Even a broadening repertoire of Instant Pot recipes hasn't curbed our love for creating more recipes using chickpeas as the main ingredient. This isn’t a cooking rut or lack of creativity. Maybe the designers of the Instant Pot didn’t have chickpeas in mind, but I always do.
I’ve learned that if you do a little prep work and vary the accompanying ingredients, quick recipes and satisfyingly healthy dinners that go well with pasta or as curry with rice are infinite in variety. Chickpeas Kapama is one such recipe.
Kapama, a Greek-style recipe with a rich tomato sauce infused with cinnamon, is traditionally served with chicken. I just changed a few letters, adjusted the flavors, ditched the oil, and here we go, another new recipe.
shortlisted (the ingredients)
You’ll love this shortlist of easy pantry ingredients.
Chickpeas – I used 2 cups of dry chickpeas, and I’ve not tested it with canned using the Instant Pot. My personal preference is to soak the chickpeas using a quick soak method. I find that they cook more evenly if they’ve been rehydrated first.
Onions and garlic – It’s easy to overlook the importance of onions and garlic in recipes. We use them so often, they become second nature. But these ingredients build the flavor that underpins everything else. As they cook, they release sugars that subtly sweeten food and add robustness.
Tomato paste – Because tomato paste is concentrated, it adds a sweet tomato flavor. It also helps to thicken the sauce as the ingredients cook.
Canned tomatoes – By adding the tomato paste, you only need 1 – 15 oz. (400 gm.) tin (can) of diced or crushed tomatoes, ideally, in juice. Look for salt-free if this is important to you.
Cinnamon – It’s not overkilling, but there is a teaspoon of ground cinnamon followed by 2 cinnamon sticks in this recipe. Ground cinnamon provides an instant jolt of flavor. The cinnamon sticks infuse flavor with the tomatoes and water as they cook in the Instant Pot.
Oregano, bay leaves, salt, and pepper – Oregano is used in many traditional Greek recipes. You can use 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano if you have it, but I used 1 tablespoon of the dried stuff.
I rarely advocate using added salt, but for this recipe, salt helps to enhance the flavors. This is particularly true here because we are using water, not vegetable broth.
Red wine vinegar – Sweet and bold red wine vinegar livens up the tomato flavor and brightens the dish.
After multiple tests, I’ve decided that it’s worth the time to quick-soak chickpeas before cooking them in the Instant Pot.
Good news! There’s a super-easy way to accomplish this using the Instant Pot.
- First, place 2 cups of rinsed chickpeas into the Instant Pot with 6 cups of water.
- Secure the Instant Pot lid, set the steam release handle to Sealing. Cook the chickpeas on High Pressure for 2 minutes.
- Allow the steam to naturally release for 15 minutes. Then, open then, unseal the steam release handle and remove the lid.
- Carefully remove the inner pot and drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Job done!
- Use the time while the chickpeas are soaking, actually, as the Instant Pot is naturally releasing, to prep everything else. It’s always good practice to gather, measure, and do any chopping before you start cooking. That’s the culinary art of mise en place, and it means that you won't get stuck on an ingredient while everything else burns.
- In my book, mise en place includes doing a quick read of the instructions, so I’m ready to roll. This is particularly important when using the Instant Pot because adding ingredients is usually fast-paced until you reach the pressure-cooking stage.
- Be sure to clear the bottom of the Instant Pot from ingredients that might be stuck to the bottom. This helps to prevent a false 'food burning' warning. Use a wooden spoon or another soft utensil to avoid marking up the bottom of the inner pot.
- Once you sauté the onions for about 3 minutes, add the garlic, cinnamon, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and oregano. Pause for just enough time to mix all those ingredients.
- I find it most practical to add the tomatoes, water, and red wine vinegar together. At this point, it’s easier to scrape the bottom before adding the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and chickpeas.
- Once you have cooked the chickpeas on High Pressure for 35 and allow 10-15 minutes more for the pressure to naturally release. This allows the flavors to settle and the chickpeas to finish cooking.
- If you don’t soak the chickpeas, increase the cooking time to 45 minutes with 10 minutes of natural release.
on the stovetop
To make this recipe on the stovetop, be sure you begin with soaked chickpeas. Use a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed larger pot and follow the instructions, except increase the water to 3 cups. Once you add the chickpeas, bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmering and cover the pot. Simmer the chickpeas for about 1 hour until they are tender. Be sure to check the cooking pot several times to give the ingredients a quick stir, and if necessary, add more water.
Kapama sauce is traditionally served with noodles, although this dish is equally tasty with rice, quinoa, or another grain. It's also mighty fine in a bowl on its own. Parsley makes a nice garnish, although it is not integral to the flavor.
The best substitutes for red wine vinegar are white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar. Neither will have the intense flavor of red wine vinegar, so you may want to add a drop of two extra. You can also use rice wine vinegar or sherry vinegar if you have those available.
Although it is possible to substitute 6 cups of cooked chickpeas for dry, we’ve not tested this process in the Instant Pot. You can use a stovetop method, reducing the water to 1 cup. Cook the chickpeas on the stovetop for at least 20 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
The most common kinds of cinnamon sticks are Ceylon and Cassia. You can use them interchangeably for chickpeas Kapama. Use ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon for every cinnamon stick.