Instant Pot Herbed Chickpea Plov

If you love robust one-pot rice dishes, and you own an Instant Pot, this recipe is for you. It has rice, and chickpeas, fragrant spices, spinach, herbs, saffron, garlic, and olives.

Instant Pot Herbed Chickpea Plov

Plovs. I started cooking them last year pretty regularly, locking onto one in particular early in my exploration. It was the Green-herbed Plov with Chickpeas in the Samarkand cookbook by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford. It is the lone vegetarian plov recipe they included in that book, because, as noted, it's hard to find a plov in Central Asia without meat as its central component. If you love robust one-pot rice dishes, and you own an Instant Pot, you're going to want to dig in here, this plov recipe is for you.Instant Pot Herbed Chickpea Plov
If you've never experienced a plov, its heralded as "the undisputed king" of Uzbek cuisine, a steaming pilaf cooked in layers, served everywhere in Central Asia. Think of plovs as the perfect all-in-one-pot preparation, and this is the version you'll want to start with if you're vegetarian or vegan. It has rice, and chickpeas, fragrant spices, spinach, herbs, saffron, garlic, and olives. It's the epitome of family style - served on platters, for visitors, for celebrations, for holidays.
Instant Pot Herbed Chickpea Plov
In the beginning I was cooking my plovs in a big cast iron Dutch oven, but quickly moved on to a kamado-san rice cooker donabe. I won't do the donabe deep-dive here, but nailing a plov in a kamado-san donabe, consistently (keyword), is master class stuff. Which is why I thought this recipe would never make it onto the site, it was one for the personal collection ;). To cook plovs in the donabe isn't for the faint of heart, and for every three times I nailed it, there was one time I really didn't. And then(!)....then I bought the Instant Pot, and decided to try my plov in that. Guess what? SO much more consistent, likely because there's no variation in temperature and heat from one attempt to the next in the IP. The results are great, and relatively predictable. So here we are - an Instant Pot Plov. Give it a go! It's great day after as well.

Instant Pot Herbed Chickpea Plov

For reference, this is the Instant Pot I used for this recipe: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1

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Instant Pot Herbed Chickpea Plov

4.19 from 16 votes

A couple of notes. First, when I say to layer, I mean like you would layer a taco dip or a lasagna. Spinach, note that I've tested with fresh and frozen spinach - both work great, and the frozen allows you to always have it on hand, pre-prepped and ready to go.

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 14- ounce can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed (or equivalent)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup black olives, chopped
  • 2 cups boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon salt added, divided
  • 6 ounces kale or spinach, chopped (frozen is ok)
  • a couple handfuls chopped herbs (cilantro, dill, celery leaves)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice, well rinsed
  • a big pinch of saffron, (optional)
  • to serve (some or all of the following): salted yogurt with saffron, toasted walnuts, chopped olives, herbs, lemon wedges
  1. Sauté the olive oil and onions in the Instant Pot on the highest SAUTE setting until softened and starting to brown just a bit, about 5 - 7 minutes. Stir in the chile flakes. Working quickly, scatter the chickpeas, garlic, and black olives on top of the onions in a layer, without stirring, and add 1/2 cup of the salted water.
  2. Layer the spinach and herbs over the chickpea layer, again, not stirring. Smooth the greens into a layer with the back of a spoon (if you're using fresh spinach, do this as it begins to collapse). Add the rice in an even layer, sprinkle with saffron, and add enough salted water to just cover the rice - ~1 1/2 cups. Press Cancel to stop the saute.
  3. PRESSURE cook for 25 minutes, and then allow to NATURALLY RELEASE for 15 minutes. Then you can carefully QUICK RELEASE PRESSURE. Gently shake or tap the pressure cooker, and then carefully open away from you. Serve toped with any/all of the suggested toppings.

Inspired by the Green-herbed Plov with Chickpeas in Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & The Caucasus by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford. Kyle Books (2016)

For reference, this is the Instant Pot I used for this recipe: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
55 mins
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Recipe Rating


Delicious! Added a shake of cumin to onions as recommended somewhere in comments. The salted yogurt/olives/cilantro/lemon totally make the dish. I had to use baby spinach – recommend something that would hold up better, like regular spinach or kale .5 stars


This was freaking delicious! I never would have known. I had never even heard of plov before! But let me tell you, my husband and I are converts. I made this without the saffron, but next time will get some to make it with that. I also think this would be delicious topped with some golden raisins or dried currants. Can’t wait to dive into the leftovers, and then make it again! Thank you so much for the fantastic recipe, Heidi!5 stars


I really like this recipe! The flavors are great and unlike anything else I cook. I love the combination of the olives & dill. This is the second time I’ve made this, and this time I used dried dill rather than fresh – still came out great! My rice was a bit undercooked, but I blame myself for not remembering to soak it beforehand. Lesson for next time!5 stars


I’m very new to the Instant Pot/pressure cooking and followed the instructions for this exactly – it was a real triumph! Perfectly cooked and not stodgy at all! Really enjoyed the flavours.5 stars


    That’s great Mel!

    Heidi Swanson

An amazingly easy, amazingly impressive dish. Followed the recipe to a t and it came out beautifully. I’ve made this instant pot wonder several time since and I will admit “off-booking it” has not delivered great success (largely preferred the black olives suggested compared to kalamata). I will continue to make and enjoy. Thank you for sharing! Definitely a new favorite.5 stars


    So glad you enjoyed it Allyson!

    Heidi Swanson

I love the flavors and earthiness of this recipe. That said, I’ve made this recipe a few times now and each time i’ve ended up with either undercooked rice or soupy plov (i.e. not enough or too much water). I can’t seem to find a balance where the rice gets cooked but there’s not extra water leftover. Any tips?

Or would it be problematic to put the rice under the greens? I know it’s not as pretty but…


    Ack, I know, plovs can be tricky! If you use the same rice every time, as you get to know it, try tweaking a bit each time. Because the IP is pretty consistent related to the cooking cycle, I think I’d start by scaling back the water by 1/3 cup or so? For fun, you could also try making it on the stovetop, which is a whole other adventure related to heat/cooking times, but it would offer you more control…

    Heidi Swanson

This recipe has been in my regular rotation since you published it I found myself without spinach today but had plenty of baby arugula on hand. This substitution is even better than spinach, I think. There is much more flavor! Thanks for a fabulous recipe. My kids love this too, and I adore the leftovers slightly warm over salad greens with a vinaigrette and salty shredded cheese.5 stars


I was hoping that this would be the recipe that made me love (or at least like) our Instant Pot, but it turned out really soupy––like a wet risotto––and the onions and chickpeas basically disintegrated. Love the idea of a veggie plov, though, so next time I’m going to try this in my big LeCreuset and adjust the cooking time accordingly.


Like another reader who commented, my rice (brown basmati) was not cooked nearly enough after the natural then quick release. I used closer to 2 cups of water to cover the rice because I used lacinato kale. Despite the pressing down with a spoon, it had a lot of volume. I had the pressure level on low (Instant Pot Duo Plus60) and now I’m thinking that it probably should have been on high. Despite the initial difficulty, once the rice was cooked, the plov had very good flavor and the salted yogurt added a lot to the dish. I’m not sure I would attempt to make this dish again, but I appreciate the development of more plant-based recipes for the Instant Pot.

HS: Hi GD – yes, the recipes unless noted should be high pressure to get the rice cooked Thanks for the nice note.


I’ve had this recipe bookmarked since you posted it, but just tried it today. My husband has a strong aversion to onions and I usually just omit them completely. I had a feeling that would not be possible here with this cooking technique. So I substituted fennel for the onion. It was fantastic!!

HS: Great swap idea!


Made it and loved it! Your recipe turned out perfectly, thank you.

Sarah T

Any suggestions for what to replace the olives with? What do you think of capers instead?

HS: Oh yeah! I actually love that idea. I might pan-fry them first (because I love capers that way) and stir them in with the walnuts…


I don’t have an IP, but I love my electric pressure cooker. Adapting your IP recipes, would you suggest setting pressure to High or Low? Many thanks, Heidi!

HS: Hi Kev – go for high pressure. Enjoy!


I had such high hopes, but when I added the last 1-1/2 cups of water I wondered. There was no way it could be, and was, enough to cover the rice on top of everything else… you sure you didn’t want the rice at the bottom? I followed the instructions exactly, and then had to remove the rice and cook it on the stove top.

HS: Hi Kelly! You’re just supposed to use enough water to cover the rice. For me, that is usually around 1 1/2 cups (in the 6 qt. Instant Pot), but I tell people to use as much water as it takes to just cover the rice – it might be a bit more or less. That way you should be fine.


I was excited to try this, but we found that it was quite bland. It took me back to the 70s vegetarian food at Quaker potlucks. I had even added cumin and increased the red pepper in the onions out of fear of blandness. It seemed like a waste a lots of greens to get a bland casserole. I added extra liquid but the rice was rather al dente. It also was under salted for us, although I used kosher salt and perhaps the amount was for table salt? That said, my kid who doesn’t enjoy food liked it. So that was the silver lining.

HS: Glad to hear it Rachel! So yeah, if you make it again (for your kid), maybe bump up the salt a bit. Sometimes that’s all a recipe needs to pop if from bland and meh, to nice! And/or a queeze of citrus. Just dialing in the seasoning a bit. Hope you give it another go.


Hi Heidi,
This looks delicious! Any tips on how to modify for those of us who still don’t have an Instant Pot? i was thinking along the lines of a Dutch Oven and then sticking into the oven?

HS: I have done a lot of plovs in a Dutch oven on the stovetop – it just takes more finesse and attention. Ride the heat so the rice cooks, but not so hot that the bottom burns/scorches…


Extremely delicious. I topped with a little crumbled feta and pistachios. Thanks for the recipe!


This is probably a silly question, but what kind of olives? Cured black (i.e. not regular canned black olives)?

HS: Exactly! Either oil-cured, or Kalamatas, essentially, anything that doesn’t come from the can…


An absolutely great and creative recipe! I had never heard of a plov but was inspired by your ingredients and use of Instant Pot. Made it earlier this week following recipe except using homemade veggie stock instead of water and no saffron. It was wonderful immediately and as leftovers. The flavor of the stock was detectable and delicious. Will use stock again and plan to try it with. soaked but not cooked dry Rancho Gordo beans. Will look for beans that cook about same time as rice. I think this recipe will adapt well to different veggies, beans and rice. Thanks so much, Heidi, for a novel and healthy recipe that’s perfect for the IP.

HS: Thanks for the nice note Anne! And, yes! Use this as a jumping off point, now that you nailed the idea, you can totally switch it up to your liking :)!


This looks delicious! What type of black olives do you recommend?


This looks delicious. Any thoughts on using lentils instead of chickpeas (it’s all i have right now). Probably would have to increase the water a bit? I am thinking about something mujadarrah like…

HS: Yes, I think it could work brilliantly!


Long time lurker, but had to comment as this dish was amazing. The salted yogurt really puts it over the top. I am embarrassed by how quickly my husband and I finished this off! I’ve had a ton of success with your recipes, but this has earned a spot in our weekly rotation. Thanks for the quality content you continually put out there!

HS: Love this! 🙂


Thank you, thank you for this incredible recipe. Just finished our dinner with plov. And I love it so much. I’m from Russia and we cook plov pretty often. I’ve got a lot of special plov spices at home. I added only one additional ingredients to the base. It was cumin. This spice is always use in plov with onion and carrot. And cumin is one of my fav spices. I used soaked garbanzo beans (soaked 1 cup of them nearly 6 hours in boiled water) and increase water to 4 cups.

HS: Thanks for the tip Anastasia! I’ll add some cumin too next time. xx!


We tried this last night, but messed up and using white basmati rice instead of brown. It was a bit mushy, but the spinach and chickpeas worked well together.

HS: Hi Ben, I bet if you cut the time by a good chunk it would be a-ok next time…

Ben Combee

Any ideas how this might translate to an old-fashioned stovetop pressure cooker ? I might want to buy an instant pot – I’m a sucker for gadgets – but I’m certainly not going to in our current tiny crowded kitchen. I’d be worried about over cooking the rice or indeed the whole thing.

Paul Hubert

Sounds delicious! I don’t have an instant pot, but would love to try this. You mentioned you’ve made it in a cast iron Dutch oven in the past, any advice on how to do so successfully?


Hi Heidi! Can’t wait to try but if I only have medium grain brown rice, can that be substituted for the brown basmati rice? Thanks in advance!


Heidi, You are knocking it out of the ball park with these IP recipes !!!
Thank you, I am grateful of you! Love from Upper Haight

HS: Thanks Margaret! Say hello if you see up there! xx.


Could you make this without the instant pot?

HS: Hi Ann – You can, it’s just a little more nuanced. You simmer until a lot of the liquid has boiled off, and then you cover with a lid, and steam until the rice is cooked.

Ann Bennett

Got an instant pot for Christmas. This looks like a terrific starting recipe for me, but I also got a 10 pound sack of WHITE Basmati rice. Cooking time reduction suggestion?


since you’re using the instant pot, have you tried this with dried beans? Obviously timing would have to be adjusted if the beans were just soaked, partially or totally pre-cooked

HS: I haven’t tested that, but let us know if you do!


What is cooking time for a Dutch oven? I might be wrong, but it seems everything else would be pretty much the same. Thank you!!


This looks delicious! I’ve never heard of Plov. I’m excited to get an IP soon and will try this for sure!

Amber Hagan

No IP in my kitchen, but I’d love to make this. Any suggestions? BTW, I frequently make your soup with red and yellow split peas. It’s a favorite around here.

Harriet Bell

I am from Pakistan and I grew up eating chickpea rice and vegetable rice. But everything else pretty much was meat based lol. Back home the pulao word is reserved for the yakhni pulao. My mom makes the yummiest food and although I cook pakistani food all the time it never tastes like ammi’s. When she visits she takes over cooking and my boys are complimenting her all the time. She cooks chickpea rice with the onions and tomato base and uses a mixture of yogurt and milk to flavor the broth along with salt and a bit of red chilli powder. So simple yet super yummy. And if you ever tasted her meat yakhni pulao, you’d be in pulao heaven.☺I never use IP for rice though..seems more work than stove top. Have tried your recipes over the years and love how flavorful they are.

HS: Thanks for the nice note Samina! The tomato base you refer to sounds amazing. xx!


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