Master Instant Pot Indian Dishes: Easy Recipes, Prep Tips, and Storage Solutions

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

If you’ve ever craved the rich, aromatic flavors of Indian cuisine but felt daunted by the time and effort it takes to prepare, you’re in for a treat. The Instant Pot has revolutionized home cooking by making it easier than ever to whip up delicious Indian dishes in a fraction of the time. Imagine savoring tender butter chicken or fragrant biryani without spending hours over the stove.

Indian cuisine is known for its complex layers of spices and diverse ingredients, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. With your Instant Pot, you can create mouthwatering meals that capture all the authentic flavors with minimal fuss. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, these recipes will help you bring vibrant Indian dishes to your table effortlessly.

Ingredients

To create delicious Instant Pot Indian dishes, you need a mix of spices, fresh ingredients, and pantry staples. Here’s what you’ll need:

Common Spices for Indian Cooking

  • Cumin Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground Coriander: 1 tablespoon
  • Garam Masala: 1 teaspoon
  • Red Chili Powder: 1/2 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
  • Mustard Seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry Leaves: A handful (optional but recommended)

Fresh Ingredients

  • Onions: 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • Garlic Cloves: 4 cloves, minced
  • Ginger Root: 1-inch piece, grated
  • Tomatoes: 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Green Chilies: 2 chilies, slit lengthwise
  • Fresh Cilantro Leaves: A bunch for garnish

Additional Ingredients

  • Basmati Rice (for biryani) or any other dish-specific rice quantity.
  • Butter Chicken:
  • Chicken Thighs: Boneless & skinless; about 2 pounds cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Heavy Cream: Half cup.
  • Tomato Paste: Two tablespoons.
  • Lentils/Dal:
  • Red Lentils: One cup rinsed and drained.

These foundational ingredients will set you up for success in making various flavorful and aromatic Instant Pot Indian recipes.

Equipment Needed

To effectively prepare Instant Pot Indian dishes, you’ll need some essential equipment that ensures your cooking process is smooth and efficient.

  1. Instant Pot: The primary tool for this adventure. Ensure you have a model with multiple functions such as pressure cooking, sautéing, and slow cooking.
  2. Steamer Basket: Perfect for steaming vegetables or making traditional Indian dumplings like idlis.
  3. Tempering/Popcorn Lid: Useful when tempering spices directly in the pot to infuse oils with rich flavors.
  4. Silicone Sealing Rings: Have extra rings handy to avoid cross-flavor contamination especially when switching between savory and sweet dishes.
  5. Trivet: Necessary for elevating food above liquid layers in the pot, great for making layered biryanis.
  6. Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precise measurements are vital in achieving authentic flavors; always measure your spices accurately.
  7. Heat-Resistant Spatula/Spoon: Ideal for stirring ingredients without scratching your Instant Pot’s inner surface.

With these accessories at hand, you’re well-equipped to dive into creating delicious Instant Pot Indian dishes that burst with flavor and aroma.

Preparations

Before you start cooking, it’s essential to have all your ingredients and spices prepped. This ensures a seamless cooking experience with the Instant Pot.

Prepping Spices

Indian cuisine relies heavily on a variety of spices for its rich flavors. Gather these common spices:

  • Cumin Seeds: Measure out 1 teaspoon.
  • Garam Masala: Have 2 teaspoons ready.
  • Turmeric Powder: Prepare 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Red Chili Powder: Use 1 teaspoon (adjust according to heat preference).
  • Coriander Powder: Get 1 tablespoon.
  • Mustard Seeds: Measure out 1 teaspoon.

Toast whole spices like cumin and mustard seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until they become fragrant. This should take about 1-2 minutes. Ground spices can be mixed together in a small bowl and set aside for easy access during cooking.

Preparing Ingredients

Ensure all your vegetables, proteins, and other essentials are ready:

  • Onions: Finely chop 2 medium onions.
  • Tomatoes: Puree or finely chop 3 medium tomatoes.
  • Garlic & Ginger Paste: Combine and blend until smooth; you will need about 2 tablespoons.
  • Chicken/Meat: Cut into bite-sized pieces; approximately 500 grams (about 1 pound).
  • Rice/Lentils: Rinse thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear; this will help remove excess starch.

Having everything prepped ahead of time makes the actual cooking process much smoother and allows you to focus on achieving the perfect flavors in your Instant Pot Indian dishes.

Understanding Instant Pot Settings

Mastering the Instant Pot settings is crucial for preparing delicious Indian dishes with ease. To create authentic Indian cuisine in your Instant Pot, you need to understand its versatile settings:

  • Sauté: Use this setting to sauté onions, tomatoes, and spices before pressure cooking. This step enhances flavors by allowing ingredients to release their aromatic oils.
  • Pressure Cook/Manual: Ideal for making dals, curries, biryanis, and more. Adjust the time according to the recipe requirements.
  • Slow Cook: Perfect for dishes that require prolonged simmering like lamb rogan josh or slow-cooked chicken curry.
  • Yogurt: Utilize this function to ferment batter for idlis and dosas or make homemade yogurt as a base for various Indian desserts.

Mastering these settings, you’ll be able to replicate traditional stovetop methods within your Instant Pot seamlessly.

Recipes

Explore these delightful Instant Pot Indian dishes that bring authentic flavors to your table with ease and efficiency.

Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice (rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes)
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about an inch long)
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro and mint leaves (chopped, for garnish)

Cook

  1. Sauté Aromatics:
    Activate the Sauté mode on your Instant Pot. Add vegetable oil and let it heat up. Add cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods, and the cinnamon stick until they release their aroma.
  2. Cook Onions & Spices:
    Add thinly sliced onions to the pot. Cook until golden brown. Stir in ginger-garlic paste and cook for another minute.
  3. Add Chicken & Tomatoes:
    Incorporate the chicken pieces into the mix and cook until they are no longer pink on the outside. Stir in chopped tomatoes along with turmeric powder, garam masala powder, and salt.
  4. Mix Rice & Yogurt:
    Drain the soaked basmati rice thoroughly before adding it to the pot along with plain yogurt. Mix well so that all ingredients are evenly coated.
  5. Pressure Cook:
    Pour in water then close the lid of your Instant Pot ensuring that it’s set to Sealing position. Select Pressure Cook or Manual mode setting timer to six minutes at high pressure.
  6. Natural Release & Fluff:
    Allow a natural pressure release for ten minutes after cooking completes then switch venting knob towards Venting position for quick release of remaining steam carefully opening lid afterwards using a fork gently fluff cooked biryani from bottom upwards without breaking grains too much.

Instant Pot Dal Tadka

Dal Tadka is a beloved Indian dish that combines lentils with aromatic spices. The Instant Pot makes it easy to prepare this flavorful and comforting meal.

Prep

  1. Gather Ingredients:
  • 1 cup yellow split lentils (toor dal)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch ginger, grated
  • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  1. Rinse Lentils:
    Rinse the yellow split lentils under cold water until the water runs clear.

Cook

  1. Sauté Aromatics:
    Set your Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ mode. Add in a tablespoon of ghee or oil. Once hot, add onions and sauté until golden brown.
  2. Add Tomatoes & Spices:
    Incorporate the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chilies, turmeric powder, and salt. Sauté for about five minutes until tomatoes soften.
  3. Cook Lentils:
    Add rinsed lentils and three cups of water to the pot. Cancel ‘Sauté’ mode and secure the lid.
  4. Pressure Cook:
    Select ‘Pressure Cook’ or ‘Manual’ mode on high pressure for eight minutes.
  5. Natural Release:
    Allow the pressure to release naturally for ten minutes after cooking ends before opening the lid.
  6. Tadka (Tempering):
    Heat two tablespoons of ghee or oil in a small pan over medium heat on your stovetop.
  7. Spices for Tadka:
    Add one teaspoon cumin seeds, one dried red chili broken in half, a pinch of asafoetida (hing), and six curry leaves into the heated ghee/oil.
  8. Combine & Serve:
    Pour this tempering mixture over your cooked dal in the Instant Pot and mix well.
  9. Garnish & Enjoy:
    Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves before serving hot with rice or roti.

Instant Pot Palak Paneer

Instant Pot Palak Paneer is a delightful, creamy spinach and paneer dish that’s both nutritious and flavorful. With your Instant Pot, you can easily prepare this classic Indian favorite in no time.

Prep

  • 1 pound fresh spinach (washed and chopped)
  • 12 ounces paneer (cubed)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tomatoes (pureed)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1-inch ginger (grated)
  • 2 green chilies (slit lengthwise)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cream for garnish

Cook

  1. Set your Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ mode and add the ghee or vegetable oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and allow them to splutter.
  3. Add finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  4. Stir in minced garlic, grated ginger, and slit green chilies; cook for another minute until fragrant.
  5. Pour in tomato puree, turmeric powder, salt, and garam masala; sauté until the mixture thickens slightly.
  6. Add chopped spinach leaves into the pot; stir well to combine with the tomato-onion mixture.
  7. Cancel ‘Sauté’ mode; close the lid of the Instant Pot ensuring that the valve is set to ‘Sealing.’
  8. Select ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ on high pressure for just two minutes.
  9. Once cooking time is complete perform a quick release by carefully turning the valve from sealing to venting position.

Serving Suggestions

When serving your Instant Pot Indian dishes, consider these suggestions to enhance your dining experience.

Pairing with Sides

To complement your Instant Pot Chicken Biryani, serve it with a cooling raita made from yogurt, cucumbers, and mint. The creamy texture of the raita balances the spices in the biryani perfectly. For a refreshing touch, add a side salad of sliced onions, tomatoes, and cilantro drizzled with lemon juice.

For Instant Pot Dal Tadka, pair it with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice (cumin rice). The fluffy grains will soak up the flavorful dal for a satisfying meal. Add some crispy papadums and tangy mango pickle on the side for an extra burst of flavor.

With Instant Pot Palak Paneer, warm naan or roti makes an excellent accompaniment. These breads are ideal for scooping up the rich spinach gravy. Additionally, serve some pickled vegetables like carrots and radishes to add a crunchy contrast to this creamy dish.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Proper Storage Techniques

Storing your Instant Pot Indian dishes correctly ensures they maintain their flavor and freshness. Follow these steps:

  1. Cool Before Storing: Allow the dish to cool to room temperature before storing it.
  2. Use Airtight Containers: Transfer your dish into airtight containers to prevent moisture loss and contamination.
  3. Label Your Containers: Label each container with the date and name of the dish for easy identification.

Refrigeration Guidelines

For short-term storage, use refrigeration:

  • Store dishes like Chicken Biryani up to 3 days in the fridge.
  • Dal Tadka can last between 4-5 days when refrigerated.
  • Palak Paneer stays fresh for about 3 days in a well-sealed container.

Freezing Instructions

If you plan on keeping your dishes longer:

  • Portion out servings before freezing for convenience.
  • Use freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
Dish Freezer Shelf Life
Chicken Biryani Up to 3 months
Dal Tadka Up to 2 months
Palak Paneer Up to 2 months

Reheating Methods

Reheat your stored dishes properly for best results:

Using a Microwave

  1. Place portioned food in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cover loosely with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap, leaving a small gap for steam release.
  3. Heat on high, stirring occasionally until evenly heated (about 2-4 minutes depending on quantity).

Using an Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Transfer food into an oven-safe dish and cover with foil.
  3. Heat for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.

Using the Instant Pot

Take advantage of your Instant Pot’s sauté function:

  1. Set Instant Pot to “Sauté” mode on low heat.
  2. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to prevent sticking.
  3. Stir occasionally until heated thoroughly.

Conclusion

The Instant Pot transforms Indian cooking into a seamless experience, allowing you to create authentic dishes effortlessly. With the right ingredients and preparation, you can enjoy flavorful meals like Chicken Biryani, Dal Tadka, and Palak Paneer without spending hours in the kitchen.

Remember to follow proper storage and reheating techniques to keep your meals fresh and delicious for days. Embrace the convenience of the Instant Pot and delight in the rich tastes of traditional Indian cuisine anytime you desire.

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