These Three Vegan, Flavor-Packed Dinners Can All Be Made In An Instant Pot

Photo by Manali Singh / Contributor

The Instant Pot has veritably revolutionized the world of the home cook—it's hard to remember a time when a new appliance was lauded by chefs and novices alike (not to mention people with tiny apartments and limited storage space). The plug-in pressure cooker makes it easy to create set-it-and-forget-it meals, a feature that blogger Manali Singh has taken advantage of in her new book, Vegetarian Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot: 75 Traditional Recipes That Are Easier, Quicker, and Healthier. Here she shares three recipes to get a veggie-packed meal on your table, with almost no effort (hey, it's the holidays! You have other things to do!).

Tomato Butternut Squash Dal

This is a simple dal made with red lentils, tomatoes, and butternut squash. I like making this dal during the fall and winter when squash is in season. This dal is very lightly spiced so that you can fully appreciate the natural flavors of the tomato and squash.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) oil of choice
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 green chili, sliced
  • 2 dried red chilies, broken
  • 1½ teaspoons (3 g) ginger, finely chopped
  • 10 to12 curry leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups (300 g) butternut squash, diced into 1- to 1½-inch (25- to 38-mm) pieces
  • ¾ cup (145 g) split red lentils/masoor dal
  • 2½ cups (600 ml) water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (1 g) cilantro, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) lemon juice, or to taste

Method

  1. Press the sauté button. When the pot displays hot, add the oil and then the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Let the mustard seeds pop for a few seconds and then add the asafetida, green chili, and broken dried red chilies.
  2. Sauté for a few seconds, then add the ginger and curry leaves and cook for a minute or two until the ginger starts turning light golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes and squash. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lentils and mix well.
  3. Add 1 cup (240 mL) of water, the turmeric powder, and salt and mix well. Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, and press the manual or pressure-cook button. Cook for 6 minutes on high pressure. Naturally release pressure for 5 minutes and then do a quick-pressure release.
  4. Open the pot, press the sauté button, and add the remaining 1½ cups (360 mL) of water along with the cilantro and lemon juice. Let it simmer for 2 minutes. Serve the tomato butternut squash dal warm over boiled rice for a comforting meal.

Note: The size of the pieces of butternut squash is important. Make sure each piece is at least 1 inch (25 mm) so the squash won't get mushy and dissolve in the dal. This is also why you add only 1 cup (240 mL) of water at first to cook the dal, and then add the remaining amount later.

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Spiced Chickpea Salad

This spiced chickpea salad features peanuts, fresh coconut, and a touch of lime and honey! I make this salad often for lunch. It's rather simple to put together, has fresh flavors, and is also packed with protein!

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (205 g) dried white chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 2½ cups (600 mL) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil of choice
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1-inch (25-mm) piece ginger, chopped
  • 2 dried red chilies, broken
  • 2 tablespoons (32 g) raw peanuts
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ cup (22 g) grated coconut
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons (10 to 15 mL) lime juice
  • 1½ teaspoons (7 mL) honey
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Pomegranate arils, for garnish

Method

  1. Wash and soak the chickpeas in 3 cups (720 mL) of water overnight. Drain the water, transfer the soaked chickpeas to the inner steel pot of your Instant Pot, and add the 2½ cups (600 mL) of water.
  2. Close the pot with its lid and press the bean/chili button, making sure the pressure valve is in the sealing position. Cook for 25 minutes on high pressure, then let the pressure release naturally. Open the pot, drain the water, and set aside the cooked chickpeas.
  3. Press the sauté button. When the pot displays hot, add the oil and mustard seeds. Let the mustard seeds pop for a few seconds and then add the chopped ginger and the broken dried red chilies. Cook for a minute or two until the ginger turns light golden brown, and then add the peanuts.
  4. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the peanuts change color. Add the curry leaves, stir, and then add the boiled chickpeas back into the pot. Add the garam masala, salt, and grated coconut, and mix well. 
  5. Stir in the lime juice, then unplug the Instant Pot. Add the honey and stir again. Garnish with the cilantro and pomegranate arils and serve.
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Gobi Matar Korma (Cauliflower & Green Peas Coconut Curry)

Photo by Manali Singh / Contributor

Korma refers to a yogurt- and coconut-based curry. Traditionally, making korma involves a number of steps, but this Instant Pot version gets it done rather quickly. My favorite way to eat this cauliflower–peas korma? With paratha—it's just the best combination!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1-inch (25-mm) piece ginger
  • 1 green chili
  • 12 raw cashews
  • 1½ tablespoons (22 mL) oil of choice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 6 to 7 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons (6 g) coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ cup (60 g) plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (150 mL) coconut milk
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) water
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into medium- to large-size florets
  • ½ cup (70 g) frozen green peas
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Method

  1. Using a blender, purée the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chili, and cashews to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Press the sauté button. When the pot displays hot, add the oil and then add the bay leaf, green cardamoms, peppercorns, and cloves. Sauté for a few seconds until the spices are fragrant and then add the onion.
  3. Cook the onion until soft, around 2 minutes, and then add in the puréed tomato-ginger-garlic-cashew paste that you prepared earlier. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Stir to combine the spices and cook them for 30 seconds. Add the yogurt, whisking continuously until it's well-combined with the curry. Make sure the yogurt is at room temperature before you add it to the masala.
  4. Add the coconut milk and the water and mix to combine. Add the cauliflower florets and peas and toss to combine them with the masala. Close the lid and press the manual or pressure-cook button, making sure the pressure valve is in the sealing position. Use the adjust or pressure-level button to set to low pressure and cook on low pressure for 3 minutes. Do a quick-pressure release.
  5. Open the pot, give the korma a stir, and adjust spices and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Make it vegan: Skip the yogurt and add ½ cup (120 mL) of water.

Based on excerpts from Vegetarian Indian Cooking With Your Instant Pot: 75 Traditional Recipes That Are Easier, Quicker, and Healthier by Manali Singh, with the permission of Page Street Publishing. Copyright © 2018.

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