So, we all know about my problem with small-appliance addiction, right? Well, I indulged again, but I TOTALLY NEEDED IT. “It” is the Instant Pot, and, oh yeah, I’m totally in love.
I was initially intrigued by the Instant Pot because of its sauteeing and slow cooking capabilities. I often make soups and chili in my slow cooker, but I’ve always wished it had a saute function, so I could brown the onion, garlic, and spices before adding the more liquid-y stuff. Meanwhile, every Whole-Food-Plant-Based and Vegan group I belong to has been singing the praises of the amazing Instant Pot, so what could I do, but break down and buy one.
I sat staring at the box for a couple of weeks because I was too chicken to try it. I’d never used a pressure cooker before, and I was afraid of causing a small explosion.
I finally reminded myself of my mantra:
You have to be brave; you have to be patient.
I needed to be brave (we’ll get to the patience part of the equation later), so I unpacked the box and made the commitment to use it every day for a month. The idea is to get more comfortable with the Instant Pot, so I’m not hesitant about using it. The first week was easy because we had house guests who LOVE oatmeal (these guys are serious oatmeal maniacs), so I spent the week perfecting my oatmeal technique. Of course, I hate oatmeal, so I had to trust their evaluation and they gave it the thumbs up.
Today, I decided to try some red rice I recently purchased and a red-lentil dhal recipe I adapted from a non-pressure-cooked dhal recipe.
First off, the rice.
As you know, I was crazy about the forbidden rice I bought on Amazon, but that stuff is ridiculously expensive and I happened to find this red rice in the “international aisle” at Superstore–it was super cheap for two kilos of rice (as is everything in the international aisle), and I’ve heard that red rice is extraordinarily healthy. Dr. Michael Gregor agrees!!
Now, I’m not the best rice maker. For some reason, this rather basic food gives me difficulty: it’s always too mooshy or hard as the devil’s toenail. I decided to do some Instant Pot research on rice cooking and came across a video that suggests that the water-rice ratio should always be 1:1….even with long grain varieties. The longer cooking time for the long grain varieties makes more water necessary, however, because so much of the water evaporates…unless, of course, you use a pressure cooker wherein none of the water is lost! Have a look at this video for details:
So I made a cup of well-rinsed red rice with one cup of water, set the IP for 22 minutes and let the pressure release naturally. It was PERFECT!
Next, the dhal!
Instant Pot Red Lentil Dhal
Turn the Instant Pot onto “Saute,” and melt…
- 1 TBS vegan margerine
Next, toss in the following and saute for a few minutes….
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garam marsala
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
Next, pour in…
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon vegetable base (mix well into broth)
- 1 cup (210g) red lentils, rinsed well
- 2 TBS fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
Set IP to “Beans/Chili” and walk away! Once the cycle is finished, do a natural pressure release (rather than a quick release). This will take about fifteen or twenty minutes.
Open the IP, and stir in….
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
Remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves and serve over rice..with naan bread and chutney.
I made the naan bread by placing a couple of hunks of my no-knead whole-wheat dough on the electric grill until they achieved an internal temperature of 206.
The reason for the kitchen scale is that I use it to prop open the grill, so the naan bread can puff up. I wanted the heat of the top grill, but not the pressure, to create an oven effect. It works very well!!
I also added a nice dollop of James’ homemade plum-apple chutney!
It was DELICIOUS!!
Oh, so here’s where the other part of my mantra comes in: the need for patience!
One thing the Instant Pot is not is….INSTANT! Indeed, it really isn’t much quicker than stove top cooking because 1) it takes a few minutes to get up to pressure and 2) most recipes call for a NPR (natural pressure release) as opposed to a quick pressure release. This natural pressure release can take ten or fifteen minutes….and getting used to that delay was really trying my patience.
Once I accepted that the Instant Pot isn’t really instant, I was much happier, and now I just call it my “Magic Pot.”
So….what’s the point of an Instant Pot that isn’t really instant? The results are always consistent AND once you start the pressure cooking, you can walk away: you don’t have to keep checking the potatoes to see if they’re done. You need only one pot as well: you plug it in and you can saute and then pressure cook (or slow cook!) in the same pot. Plus, clean up is super easy–the stainless steel insert is the only thing you need to wash and it comes clean very quickly. I’m not sure whether it’s dishwasher safe, but I suspect so (though it’s just as easy to wash it in the sink).
I was also thinking that if the electricity goes out and I want to make, say, a soup or stew, I can just load up the Instant Pot, plug it into the outlet in the truck and drive to the village and back and it will be done.
Finally, when it comes to cooking dry beans, it IS pretty instant. You can do a quick start (rather than soak your beans), and then cook them in only a few minutes. In fact, the first thing I tried in the IP was hummus from dried chickpeas (and those suckers are TENACIOUS). The chickpeas were PERFECTLY cooked in the IP and the resulting hummus was delicious!
The Instant Pot is definitely a keeper–I recommend it to anyone and everyone. As a matter of fact, when I was picking mine up from the post office, the man behind me in the line up (a gentleman of about seventy) said, “You got an Instant Pot!!!! You will LOVE IT!!”
He was right!
Oh, and I’ve watched about a thousand Instant Pot videos (which I highly recommend). This little video contains THE best quick tips–in fact, I use every one of these tips every time I use it!
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