Let’s Talk Food: The magical Instant Pot

Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson A Fagor Lux Multicooker pot.

Happy new year!

Were you lucky enough to get an Instant Pot this year for Christmas?

Bon Appetit wrote an informative article about this small appliance. The pressure-cooking capability is the most handy, with no worries of having food all over the ceiling and walls, but the other features include slow cooking, cooking rice and even making yogurt.

I have two multipurpose pots. The first is a Fagor pressure cooker that also is a steamer, slow cooker, yogurt maker and rice cooker with buttons for brown, white rice and risotto. When I needed a new rice cooker, I opted for another multipurpose pot that cooks white, brown and quick rice and quinoa, and steams and slow cooks yogurt and oatmeal.

In 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Instant Pot CEO Robert Wang had just been laid off from his software engineering job. He realized he was feeding his kids too much takeout and fast food. With two other ex-technology engineers, they developed a first generation multipurpose pot. Wang chose the name Instant Pot after putting together a handful of adjective-noun combinations. It was a straightforward name and the website was available. He was subjected to ribbing as while doing a demonstration at a hotel, someone passed him in the hallway and pointed to the Instant Pot and said “Ooo, Instant Pot!” referring to pot as marijuana. Today, Wang is laughing all the way to the bank!

Wang and his two other engineers sold the Instant Pot to family and friends to test it out. Wang made more than 500 soft-boiled eggs for his daughter while testing and improving his invention.

The second generation, new and vastly improved Instant Pot was sold on Amazon in 2012 and became a top seller by summer. In 2015, on Amazon’s Prime Day, it sold 24,000 units and in 2016, it jumped to 215,000.

On Cyber Monday, they also sold out six hours earlier than expected.

When I home-stayed at Nimmy Paul’s home in Kerala, India, her pressure cooker was used often to cook lentils and other dishes, but she had a stove-top model and our instructions were to turn it off at three whistles. Urvashi Pitre, author of “Indian Instant Pot” and her blog Two Sleeves, bought her Instant Pot in 2013.

She cooked with a pressure cooker since she was 14, but stated, “The difference between a stove-top pressure cooker and an electric one is night and day, in terms of convenience.

It heats up really fast and great for many Indian dishes.” Pitre featured her Indian Butter Chicken on her blog and was surprised, “whatever the real reason,” that it was enjoyed by so many.

Here is the recipe from Two Sleeves blog:

Instant Pot Now and Later Keto Indian Butter Chicken

Two Sleeves by Urvashi Pitre

Serves 4

Ready in 30 minutes

Place all ingredients into an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker:

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

6 cloves garlic

1-2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (or use breast, bone-in, or whatever works for you. If frozen, add 1-2 minutes to total time).

Close the cooker and set for 10 minutes on high, and let it release pressure naturally for 10 minutes. After that, release all remaining pressure. Open the pot and remove the chicken carefully and set aside. Blend together all the ingredients, preferably using an immersion blender. Allow to cool a little, then add:

4 ounces butter, cut into cubes (use coconut oil if dairy free)

4 ounces heavy cream (use full-fat coconut milk if dairy free)

1 teaspoon garam masala

Take out half the sauce and freeze for later or store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Add the chicken back in and heat through. Add and serve over rice or zucchini noodles:

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Using leftover sauce:

Use leftover cooked chicken and mix in with the gently heated sauce. Let it simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld together and add cilantro leaves on top.

Notes from Two Sleeves:

Do not re-pressure cook the butter- and cream-filled sauce for a second time as it gets thin and unappetizing.

Cook the chicken when you first make the sauce, and when you’re ready, add cooked chicken or paneer, and heat it through in a skillet.

You’ll note there’s no added water in this recipe. Between the tomatoes and chicken, there’s more than enough to create pressure in this recipe. Any more water and it’s going to taste insipid.

Let the sauce cool just a little before adding the butter and cream.

Adding it to the boiling sauce will make your sauce very thin. If that happens, just put it in the refrigerator for a little and let it thicken up. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

May 2018 be a great year for you and your family!

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.