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Behold, the Instant Pot

Behold, the Instant Pot
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  • Post #91 - March 27th, 2018, 2:11 pm
    Post #91 - March 27th, 2018, 2:11 pm Post #91 - March 27th, 2018, 2:11 pm
    Back at it again with my IP and the Chana Masala recipe from Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Traditional Indian Dishes Made Easy and Fast, by Urvashi Pitre. I've taken a couple of passes and have arrived at some excellent results. As with the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe about which I posted above, this recipe required a bit of tweaking but happily, not nearly as much as the CTM did.

    The main tweak is that when pre-cooking the chickpeas, that's the appropriate time to add the salt. If you wait to add the salt until you combine the cooked chickpeas with the other ingredients (as the recipe instructs), you're going to end up with some bland chickpeas. Anyone who's cooked any kind of dried beans probably knows this already but since the timing of the salt inclusion has such a profound effect on the quality of the final product, I figured I should mention it here.

    The second warning note is about Amchoor Powder. The recipe, as it appears in the Kindle edition I downloaded, makes no mention of this crucial ingredient in the ingredients list. Instead, only Lemon Juice is shown in the ingredients list. Then, at the very end of the recipe there is a note from the author informing that Amchoor Powder is more "authentic" than using Lemon Juice. This is irritating on a number of levels but the good news is that I was able to easily get Amchoor Powder at the Spice House (and also saw several brands of it at the Indian market), and using it had a profound effect on final product. If at all possible, do not settle for using Lemon Juice. It just ain't right.

    I doubled the recipe, so along with the 2 cups of dried chickpeas (1 pound when dry, but then soaked overnight before cooking), I added 6 cups of water, 6 smallish bay leaves and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the instant pot. 18 minutes on high pressure, as the recipe calls for, was just about perfect. The resulting chickpeas were tender and soft but not mushy at all. 17 minutes might have been better, as these were some newly acquired chickpeas from Ranch Gordo that probably had not been sitting around very long.

    The spots where you'll have myriad choices are when choosing which garam masala you'll use in the Onion Masala (a separate recipe in the book but a component without which this version of Chana Masala cannot be made) and the Chana Masala powder that goes in during the final assembly of the dish. As advised in this helpful post by Rene G, Indian markets stock multiple brands of this product and what I've found so far is that when it comes to the Chana Masala powder, I greatly prefer the cumin-forward Shan brand over the extremely floral version I bought online at In the store, the packaging does not typically contain the word "powder" and it basically looks like this . . .

    Shan Chana Masala powder

    MDH Chana Masala powder

    I still have a few more brands of this to try, which I'll break out on future attempts . . . and I may even end up combining them to get the flavor profile that makes the most sense to me. As for the Garam Masala powder with which I made the Onion Masala, I started with the Spice House's version, which is a fine version but I'm looking forward to trying a few I found in the Indian market, which are likely to be way less fresh and aromatic but, perhaps, more familiar tasting.

    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

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  • Post #92 - March 28th, 2018, 2:47 pm
    Post #92 - March 28th, 2018, 2:47 pm Post #92 - March 28th, 2018, 2:47 pm
    Hi Ronnie, keep your IP recipe rewrites coming!

    I made Urvashi Pitre’s Instant Pot Butter Chicken the other day in my 8-quart Instant Pot. I followed your changes and doubled the chicken and all other ingredients except for the butter. I know it's butter-chicken, but with the full-fat coconut milk, I don't think we missed the extra butter. Maybe next time, I will double the butter too, but it seemed plenty flavorful and rich for us.

    As you suggested, I first bloomed spices in the Instant Pot with the butter. I put chicken in freezer for just a bit so it was easy to cut raw. We loved the sauce too. No blender needed.

    I'm sure your suggestions improved this dish. Thank you!

    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    janeyb wrote:
    I went at this again tonight, incorporating the changes I described upthread. They worked beautifully. The final product was noticeably improved and I'm almost completely satisfied with it. Next time, however, I'm going to reduce the amount of cream by 25% and that should do the trick. This was a very satisfying and relatively easy weeknight dinner that will definitely become part of my regular rotation - at least during colder months.

    Hi Ronnie, want to try this using your changes. I am confused by #6 in the original recipe:
    Remove half of the sauce and freeze it for later, or refrigerate for as long as three days.

    Could you keep all and double the chicken and spices?
    Thanks for explaining.

    I'm sorry. I should have been more clear. I completely ignored that part of the instructions. In actuality, doubled the recipe and used 3 pounds of chicken instead of 1. I have the 8-quart Instant Pot and this was not a problem at all. But I didn't set aside any of the sauce. We just ate what we wanted and refrigerated the rest (sauce and chicken) for eating as leftovers. The leftover sauce is great over rice, tofu or riced cauliflower. Hell, it's so good it could even make my mom's cooking edible! :P

  • Post #93 - April 15th, 2018, 8:38 pm
    Post #93 - April 15th, 2018, 8:38 pm Post #93 - April 15th, 2018, 8:38 pm
    I've been playing around with my mini (3-quart) Instant Pot for a couple of weeks now. Great corned beef and great hard-boiled eggs so far; other things need a bit more practice. The mini part isn't hard; apparently you just halve the standard 6-quart recipes and keep the cooking times the same.

    I am starting to see, though, what some referred to upstream about the variability in quality and precision among online recipes. I suspect I should get one or two of the more reputable cookbooks from the library. I particularly wish I could find more consistent and reliable advice on cooking times.

    For example, for a <3-lb corned beef, I found recipes online with cooking times from 40 minutes to 90 minutes, including one or two that involved testing multiple cooking times. I eventually had great results with an old Wolfgang Puck recipe for corned beef in a stovetop pressure cooker for 90 minutes with natural (slow) pressure release. Quick release, he advised, would make the meat fibers tighten up.

    Tonight I'm researching recipes for Japanese beef curry. I know how to make the curry sauce; that's not an issue. (I'd also rather do the browning on the stovetop than in the little IP pot). What is an issue is that I'm finding pressure cooking times everywhere from 4 minutes to 32 minutes (with natural pressure release) for a pound of beef and a couple of cubed potatoes and carrots.

    Such variation wouldn't matter much in a stovetop recipe, but what with cooking at high pressure and waiting for the pressure to dissipate and opening and testing and contemplate bringing it back up to pressure to cook more, it's more of a pain, not to mention a longer learning curve for each dish. Just wondering, does anyone have any suggestions for reliable guidance, online or off, for IP cooking times by food type (and for meats, by cut)?
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #94 - April 18th, 2018, 2:55 pm
    Post #94 - April 18th, 2018, 2:55 pm Post #94 - April 18th, 2018, 2:55 pm
    The handy and fairly comprehensive tables on this website look like the kind of guidelines I was hoping for (except that I do not see a listing for brisket/corned beef). I'll do some testing. (Note, times are for stovepot pressure cookers; instructions for adjustment to electronic/lower-pressure cookers are provided).
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #95 - May 13th, 2018, 10:25 am
    Post #95 - May 13th, 2018, 10:25 am Post #95 - May 13th, 2018, 10:25 am
    Thanks all for this thread!!! I finally got my six quart instapot at Kohls!!! On sale and you can use Kohls cash and coupons. Did you know you can stack up to four coupons sometimes at Kohls. Try it. Will be getting the Indian cook book I am eager to start making things like butter chicken and chana masala especially since hubby is Indian. I found out that you can buy instapot accessories on amazon (and probably other places). Just search instapot accessories. Be sure to read the reviews. One handy thing is a glass top for the instapot when you are using it in slow cooker mode. The other that caught my eye was a non stick insert pot. You can remove the stainless steel pot and use the ceramic non stick pot especially when you are cooking things like pasta dishes that may tend to stick.

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare