My Favorite Kitchen Appliance

Why I like Instant Pot

A pressure cooker is commonly found in Indian kitchens. It is used for cooking so many things, from multiple kinds of daal (lentils) to boiling potatoes. Kids in India grow up getting accustomed to those sudden and loud sounds of pressure cooker whistles. While coming to the US, I was told this was one of the most essential items to take. Thankfully, my to-be roommate already had one, so I didn’t need to get it. Come fourth year of my Ph.D., I don’t quite remember how I came across this electric cooker called “Instant Pot” on Amazon. It could have been one of the very few occasions when the advertisement algorithm actually showed me something I was tempted to explore more. Like I usually do for other items before purchasing, I went into reading 4 pages of reviews about it. Sure, something can be rated 4.7 stars, but I have to find few negative reviews and obsess over whether it’s actually a good purchase. After pondering over the purchase for a few days, I finally proceeded to checkout as Black Friday sale came around. Over the years, it has become one of my favorite appliances in the kitchen. Given the Black Friday sale is around the corner, I thought I’ll write about it in case some of you are interested.,c_limit,f_auto,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/

On the surface, it may seem like it doesn’t really add much in comparison to a regular pressure cooker. In this one, you set a timer for the amount of time you want something to cook while in a traditional pressure cooker, you would count the whistles. But as it turns out, especially for beginners and those who want to reduce friction in cooking, just this addition can be huge. In a traditional pressure cooker, if you have something cooking, you can’t just go for a walk or doze off, because then you would have no idea if this is the 4th whistle or 5th whistle. In an electric cooker, you just set the timer and forget about it. You can go for a walk, you can put on your noise canceling headphones and talk to a friend for hours, take a nap, or just leave the home to do some other work, your food will automatically stop cooking after the set time has elapsed. If you want, you can even have it keep the food warm for you in case you are gone for a longer duration. The one button settings for some of the things can make cooking even easier for beginners. I remember the very first time I made rice in a traditional pressure cooker, I messed up the whistles and half of it was burned (Yes, I have this accomplishment :D). In an Instant Pot, you just press the “Rice” button and you are done (after you add the rice, water, salt etc. that is).

Another thing my old pressure cooker did was create a mess. Many times when there was a whistle, some of what was cooking would come out leaking from the top and would spread around the stove. That meant each cooking instance had to be followed by cleaning the stove as well (or being content with the fact that your stove was quite dirty). Working with Instant Pot has been a breeze in comparison. Washing the inside cooking pot has also been easier as compared to traditional pressure cooker which can have a slightly complicated design at the top to fit the lid.

Only thing that might take some trial and error is estimating cooking times. I have found that 10 minutes turns out to be a decent equivalent of two whistles. You’d need to put it for much longer if you are boiling chana (chickpeas) or rajma (red kidney beans). For them, I usually put it for at least 35 minutes on High pressure.

Moreover, it can do other cool things too. For example, we have recently been using it to make curd (yogurt), and it tastes better than anything we have purchased from outside, plus making it has been easier than you’d think. There is also a ‘Saute’ mode if you want to do regular cooking and not pressure cooking. We don’t really use it much but one can also use it as a slow cooker. After my purchase, many of my friends have also bought it and they have loved it too. Even my wife who is super possessive about her kitchen counter space, considers it a valuable addition. So, that’s saying something!