Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Badam Puri | Flourless Almond Cookies

One of the popular sweet for Diwali; Badam Puri is super addictive and amazing to try at home! 



In a wink Diwali will be here! The festivities have begun and we are ready to celebrate. This festival of lights is celebrated in a great way back in India. We try our best to do everything similar here in US. From fireworks and rangoli to diya and sweets; we have it all! 

While a lot of sweets that we enjoyed back there are available here; there are a few that I have not eaten for YEARS! Badam Puri is one of them. For those who know the sweet, they would have connected to it instantly. For the others; these are rounds made from almond, stacked and packed in yellow cellophane paper. 


Available generally during Diwali in all stores; this sweet is addictive. Full of almond powder/meal, these sometimes come studded with almonds and cardamom seeds. I have missed these the MOST for Diwali each year. So this year I decided to make some at home. After a couple of fails; I managed a PERFECT batch that I shot and it is here! 


How to get it RIGHT?

The ingredients in this recipe are fairly easy to get; almond meal, sugar and ghee being the most important. Everything else can be used as per preference and availability. Once you have the ingredients right; it is important to have them measured correctly. 

The most important steps here are cooking the dough to the right consistency and broiling for the right time. Mess up either of these steps and the cookies are bound to fail. 

First the consistency of the dough. If the water is too much for the dough, it needs to be cooked for a longer time to dry it up. However if it is too dry, the dough will crumble on cooling. I have listed test to find the right consistency and would strongly recommend that instead of eyeballing the results.

The next is broiling. The total broil time for the cookies is 4-5 minutes. So even an extra 30 seconds can ruin them (I have burnt them a couple of times)! The steps below call for cooling the cookies before broiling them again. This is required as the cookies will fall apart of flipped when just out of the oven.


Variations

I made these using store bought almond meal. However, blanched almonds can be used to make the meal too. Using almonds with peel will not result in a smooth dough and not give the right result. 

Cashews can be used in the recipe too. Raw cashews can be crushed fine to obtain cashew meal. That can be either combined with almond meal or used by itself.

I added some slivered nuts and saffron along with cardamom to the cookies. However, only cardamom also gives a distinct flavor that is amazing. Also, the saffron strands give a light yellow color. If you want a deep yellow like the ones from the store, add a drop of yellow color to the mixture. 


Love cookies? Try one of these:

Ingredients

Almond Meal 1 cup (store bought or home-made)
Confectioner' Sugar 3/4 cup
Ghee/ Unsalted Butter 2 tbsp
Cardamom seed powder 1 tsp
Saffron threads a few
Slivered pistachios and almonds 1/3 cup
Water 2-3 tbsp


Method

In a pan heat 1 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter. Once it starts to melt; add almond meal, 2 tbsp water and sugar. Mix together and let it cook till the sugar starts to melt. 

Add in the cardamon seed powder and a few strands of saffron. Cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes in all; stirring frequently. 

Once the mixture becomes pasty and the sugar melts, reduce flame to low. Continue to cook till the mixture becomes opaque and starts to leave the sides of the pan. 

While the mixture cooks, keep the slivered nuts ready and line the back of a steel plate with some ghee or lay a parchment paper. 

Once the mixture leaves the side, test with a small portion of the mixture if it is done. Remove 1 tsp of the mixture and spread it on the ghee lined plate. If it can be spread and then breaks clean into two parts, it is done.

At this point add the remaining ghee to the mixture, mix well and transfer it to the plate. Once it cools down a little and can be handled with hands; start kneading the dough and roll it into a round of about 1/4 inch thickness. I could make about 12 full cookies and had some leftover dough.

Spread the nuts on top, roll it once to make sure they stick and use a cookie cutter to make small rounds. I used a 2 inch cookie cutter to make this.

Arrange the cookies in a baking tray. Set the oven to 'Broil' and Low. Place the tray in the oven and broil for 1-2 minutes; till the brown spots appear on them. It only takes a couple of seconds to burn so keep an eye.  

Remove from oven, cool for 5-6 minutes and flip them over. Broil for another 2-3 minutes and remove. Transfer to an airtight container and enjoy for up to 10 days. 



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Instant Pot Ven Pongal

A delicious mix of rice and lentils, this Ven Pongal is made so well in the Instant Pot! Laced with ghee and served topped with cashews and tadka, this one is a keeper!


Reprinted with permission from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, copyright © 2018 by Archana Mundhe. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Winter is around the corner and all I crave is bowls full of warm delicious breakfast recipes and one pot dinners. While there are a lot of options like khichdi and soups that make an appearance on the dinner menu; Ven Pongal is something I have added recently to the menu! 


In South India, this satisfying tiffin dish is eaten for breakfast, but it can also be enjoyed as part of lunch or dinner. The rice and lentils are generously seasoned with curry leaves, cumin seeds, black pepper, and hing. Served piping hot with freshly made coconut chutney or Sambar, this ghee-laced dish makes a delightful lazy weekend brunch. 


I have been making this dish in the pressure cooker for a few months; but I moved to making it in the Instant Pot since I saw it in my friend Archana Mundhe's cookbook The Essential Indian Instant Pot. An easy to make recipe made super amazing by the Instant Pot, I have been hooked on to this now! 

Talking about the cookbook, Archana asked me to review the book and I was delighted. She has a wonderful blog and now this book is out. I got my copy and loved every bit of it. All the recipes in the book are easy to understand and precise! If you have not got a copy yet, you must get one here

Plus, I am hosting a giveaway on Instagram soon. Look out for it on my handle @herbivorecucina


Why make Ven Pongal in the Instant Pot?

A good bowl of Ven Pongal is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner! The Instant pot makes a super creamy version of the lentil and rice. With the right proportions; the pongal will not stick to the base and not burn. Plus, every grain will be cooked evenly. 

Use the low-pressure Rice setting here so that the rice and lentils are cooked soft and have a lighter texture. The recipe comes together quickly and when it is served drizzled with ghee; it is a wholesome breakfast or dinner! 


The best part of the recipe is that it needs just one pot to make everything from the tadka to the final product. The recipe calls for roasting the cashews and the tadka in the pot. Then the pongal is made in the same pot. So the flavors from the ghee automatically come through in the pongal! 

If you are an Instant Pot lover like me; you MUST try these: 


Coming back to the recipe, there are a few variations you can make to this one. Start with a rice that you have easily available. Any short rice will work. Moong dal is commonly found in most Indian stores and is required for the recipe. 

If you LOVE cashews, you can add more on top! I would strongly suggest that you add the ginger. It gives the recipe a delicious flavor that is unmatched! Last, use neutral vegetable oil or coconut oil for a Vegan version. 

With all the information here, I hope you make this really soon! Plus, watch out for the giveaway on my Instagram handle! 
 

Ingredients

Short-grain white rice (such as Ambe Mohar or Kala Jeera) 1 cup
Ghee 4 tbsp
Coarsely chopped raw cashews 2 tbsp
Grated fresh ginger 2 tsp
Cumin seeds 2 tsp
Black peppercorns 1 tsp
Fresh ground black pepper 1 tsp
Curry leaves, chopped 20
Moong dal 1/2 cup
Salt 2 tsp
Hing (asafetida) 1/8 tsp
Water 4 1/2 cups


Method

Measure the rice into a wire-mesh strainer, then rinse under running water for 10 seconds, swishing it around. Drain and set aside. 

Select the high 'Sauté' setting on the Instant Pot and heat 1 tbsp of ghee. Add the cashews and sauté until they start to turn golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the cashews to a small bowl. 

Add the remaining 3 tbsp ghee, grated ginger, cumin seeds, peppercorns, ground pepper, and curry leaves directly to the hot ghee at the bottom edges of the pot and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Transfer the tadka to the bowl with the cashews and set aside. 

Add the moong dal to the now-empty Instant Pot and sauté until toasted, about 1 minute. Add the rice, salt, and hing; pour in the water; and stir to combine. 

Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to 'Sealing'. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the 'Rice' setting and set the cooking time for 12 minutes at low pressure. 

Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. 

Open the pot and stir in the reserved cashews and tadka. Spoon the rice and lentils onto plates and serve hot with coconut chutney or Sambar.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rava Sheera | Sooji Halwa

An easy to make yet addictive Indian dessert; Sooji Halwa is a MUST-HAVE sweet for festivals and celebrations! Super quick yet addictive! 


I cannot believe we are ready to celebrate Diwali! The days are flying and I am trying to catch up on cooking, decorating, planning and posting! In no time we will be celebrating the festival of lights. A festival enjoyed with diyas, lights, sweets, rangoli and firecrackers, Diwali is my favorite Indian festival without a doubt! 

Every year we make a LOT of sweets for the celebration. I have been adding these recipes to the blog regularly and it is wonderful to see the number of Indian sweets there are on the blog already.

If you have a sweet tooth and looking for easy but yummy sweets, check these out. Plus see this post with a collection of some SUPER AWESOME sweet and savory recipes for Diwali.

This year I started preparing for Diwali with one of our favorite snacks; Sweet Sakarpara. This is the next recipe; simple yet popular Indian sweet. This recipe of Sooji Halwa is my favorite. I have tried multiple recipes before settling for this one. 

A cross of my grandmother's traditional recipe and some learnings from experiments I did over the years; this recipe is now my go-to recipe for all gatherings, festivals or sometimes just for sweet cravings! 


How to get it RIGHT?

Sooji Halwa is THE recipe for a lot of households. For all celebrations big and small, we LOVE our sheera in all its forms. With just a few pantry ingredients and a simple to follow recipe; this sweet will come out perfect even on first attempt.

The essential ingredients in this recipe are sooji, ghee, sugar and milk. Everything else can be edited as per your choice, taste and availability. Some times I add a lot of nuts, sometimes I add just saffron and sometimes it is just the plain white version with cardamom. 

The only important steps here are roasting the sooji well and cooking the halwa just right. If you shut off the gas too soon, it will be too thin. If it is goes beyond the point of just right; it will start to break into chunks. Neither will be appetizing.  


Why make Sooji Halwa?

With a preparation time of minutes and active time of 15 minutes; this dessert doubles as a sweet. In an Indian meal, sweets have a great place and this one fits really well.

Generally a favorite for Indian sweet lovers, this recipe is great for gatherings. Super easy to scale, the recipe can be made in bulk really easily. Make the recipe before hand and it is great even at room temperature. 

Whether served warm or at room temperature, this dessert can be refrigerated for a couple of days. The ghee might  solidify in the refrigerator, so microwave the halwa for a minute before serving. 

With all of this, I hope you try this recipe this festive season. If you do, I would love how it turns out for you. And yes, come back to the blog for more Diwali recipes this week and next! 


Ingredients

Rava/Sooji/Semolina 1 cup
Sugar 1 cup
Milk 3/4 cup
Water 1 1/2 cup
Cardamom pods 2-3
Cinnamon stick 1-2
Cloves 3-4
Almonds and Cashews 1/4 cup
Raisins 4-5
Saffron 4-5 strands
Dried Rose Petals and Silver Varakh (if using)


Method

In a pan add 1/4 cup ghee and sooji. Mix well and roast on medium flame for 8-10 minutes till golden brown and flavorful. Ensure that the sooji does not burn.

Remove from flame and transfer to a plate. In the same pan add the remaining ghee and heat. Once hot add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and cloves. Fry for a minute and add almonds, cashews and raisins. 

Mix well and let them turn golden. The raisins will puff up indicating it is done. 

Add in the saffron and start pouring the milk. It will splutter so be careful while pouring. Add in the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and then add in the roasted sooji.

Stir continuously while adding the sooji to avoid lumps. The mixture will start to thicken slowly. Keep stirring till all the liquids are absorbed and the halwa becomes soft.

Turn down the heat and serve garnished with more nuts, dried rose petals and silver varakh (if using).


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup

Velvety smooth Butternut Squash Soup made in the Instant Pot. With Thai flavors infused in the soup, this one is definitely a KEEPER through Fall and beyond! 


We are racing through Fall and currently we are gorging on YUMMY soups atleast 3-4 times a week. From creamy soups and stews to broth based soups; we are enjoying them all. Vegetables, lentil, pasta and dals are making an appearance in a soupy form on the dinner table!

All year round I keep waiting for Fall and the delicious squashes the season brings with it. From pumpkin and butternut to acorn and spaghetti squash, we LOVE them all. Every year I enjoy all of them through the season but BUTTERNUT is by far my favorite squash. 

The yummy taste, smooth silky texture and bright orange color always make me want to have it pretty often. Plus a versatile vegetable that is great in curries, soup and other recipes; this squash features on our menu very often. If you are a fan of Butternut squash like me, check out these recipes:


Why make this soup in the Instant Pot?

For the longest time I have been making pumpkin and butternut squash soup in a pan or pressure cooker. But since I started using the Instant Pot, I am loving the ease of using it for soups. The method is similar to the pressure cooker, but I love the consistency this one has.

Using the Instant Pot and an immersion blender, you can make almost all creamy soups really easily. I have tried a lot of them and they are all YUM! From spinach, tomato and pumpkin to celery and sweet corn; I make them all in the Instant Pot and loving it.

One of the BIGGEST advantage of the Instant Pot is that you can sauté and place all the ingredients in the pot in the morning and leave the device on a delay start mode. When you get back from work, the soup is ready to be pureed and served! 

Just toast a few slices of bread or use a sour dough bread bowl to serve the creamy orange soup! Or whip up a salad and enjoy.



Looking for more Instant Pot meals? Try one of these: 


The Ingredients to make it YUM!

There are a LOT of recipes to make butternut squash soup. Some recipes call for roasting the squash, some add apples or pears in the soup. I like those versions too, but my favorite is this version. 

I do love the sweetness of butternut in my soup but my husband loves spicy soups. So I add some Thai Red Curry paste in the soup to balance the sweetness. Plus, he LOVES a splash of chilli oil on top to make the soup a little spicy. It is optional and can be eliminated of you do not like spicy toppings.

I added a stalk of celery in my soup. The stalk is super flavorful and adds a lot of freshness to the soup. I would strongly recommend not skipping it. The other ingredients like onion, garlic and ginger can be added or left out based on preference.

Adding a pinch of turmeric in the soup goes a long way. However, if you do not have it or do not like it, leave it out. Adding some cayenne pepper to the soup is also a great idea! 


Ingredients

Butternut Squash 1 medium
Onion 1 medium
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Ginger 1 inch piece
Celery 1 stalk
Red Curry Paste 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp
Oil/ Unsalted Butter 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Black Pepper Powder 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Water/ Vegetable Broth 1 1/2 cups

To Garnish
Coconut Milk/ half and half 1/2 cup
Pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup
Black pepper powder and Chilli flakes 
Chilli Oil (optional)



Method

Peel and deseed the squash. Cut into cubes and set aside. Chop the onion and celery to 1 inch pieces. Mince garlic and ginger.

Switch on the Instant Pot and set the mode to 'Sauté' and Normal. Add oil or butter. Once hot, sauté ginger and garlic till the raw flavor vanishes. Next add onions and celery. Mix and let them cook for 1-2 minutes.

Next add the butternut squash pieces. Mix and add red curry paste, turmeric, salt, pepper powder and sugar. Let the squash cook for 2 minutes. Then add water or broth. 

Mix well and press 'cancel'. Set the mode to 'pressure cook', high pressure and time to 7 minutes. Close the lid, set valve to sealing and let the soup cook.

One the time is done, let the pressure release naturally for 3-4 minutes and then release the remaining pressure. 

Open the lid and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively process in a blender. 

Add in the coconut milk or half and half. Mix well and serve topped with pumpkin seeds, black pepper powder and chilli flakes. Add some chilli oil if using. 



Monday, October 15, 2018

Sweet Shakarpara | Sweet Shankarpali

Fried flaky melt-in-the-mouth Indian snack, Sweet Shakarpara is a Diwali MUST-HAVE recipe. Made from simple pantry essentials, this is a NO-FAIL recipe for everyone to try!



I cannot believe we are at stone's throw from Diwali; the KING of Indian festivals. Celebrated across India in different ways, the festival is loved by one and all. 

For those not familiar with the celebration, we celebrate Diwali each year in October-November depending on the Hindu calendar. The celebration starts with cleaning the house, decorating with lamps, lanterns, rangoli and flowers. We make a TON of Indian sweets and snacks and burst a lot of fireworks too. Plus, families dress up in traditional clothes and meet and greet. It is a great time for everyone to take a break, celebrate and come together. 



Every year I try to make a few traditional recipes for the blog. Collecting all the recipes in one place, here is a post that has some amazing recipes to try: Sweet and Savory Diwali Recipes. Here are a few more Diwali treats to try:

This year I started off with this recipe of Shakarpara. This Indian snack is known by several names like Shankarpali or Sakkarpara. Mildly sweet fried cookies these diamond shaped fried snack is addictive and perfect for festivals like Diwali. It is popular in Gujarat and Maharashtra and made by various recipes and variations across the states. 

Though carb-high, this snack is amazing for Diwali. For the longest time I thought that the festival was incomplete without Gujiya, Chakli and Sweet Shakarpara. I promise you will not be able to stop at ONE. You can definitely gobble a bowl full of these! 



No Fail recipe of Shakarpara

There are several ways to make shakarpara. Some folks make it with just flour and then dunk them in sugar syrup. Several people make it with sugar syrup in flour. Some also enjoy them made from jaggery syrup.

However, most of these recipes need the sugar or jaggery syrup to be PERFECT consistency. If it is not, the shakarpara will be too soft or rock hard. This recipe uses powdered sugar, making it super simple. 



The ingredients in this recipe are those that can easily be found in any pantry. Flour, clarified butter, sugar and semolina are the most important ingredients. Sesame seeds is optional. 

I fried these in oil but they can also be fried in ghee. The taste is a little different but depends more on what you like better. This recipe is mildly sweet. However, if you like them SUPER sweet, a
dd 2 tbsp extra sugar in 3 cups of flour.

This is the first recipe in the series of Diwali treats for 2018. I hope you all try this and keep an eye on the next few recipes. There will be a few snack recipe and a couple of sweets too. 




Ingredients

All Purpose Flour 3 cups
Fine Semolina 1/2 cup
Confectioner' Sugar/ Fine powdered sugar 1 cup
Heated Ghee/ Clarified Butter 1/3 cup
Warm Water 1/4 cup
Roasted Sesame seeds 1 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Oil to deep fry



Method

In a bowl add flour, semolina and salt. Heat ghee and add it to the mixture. Mix together till you can make a crumbly mixture. It should be such that the mixture comes together when pressed in a fist. 

Add more ghee if required. Then add sugar as well as roasted sesame seeds and mix. Using warm water make a soft dough. It should not be too tough else it will become crumbly.

Wrap in a shrink wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes divide the dough into 8 parts. 

Heat oil in a wok. Use a part of the dough and roll into a round of 1/4 inch thickness. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into diamonds. 

Add a piece of dough to the oil. If it comes to the top immediately, the oil is hot enough.

Add in the dough diamonds in hot oil and fry till golden brown on both sides. Do not make them really dark else they will burn. 

Remove using a slotted spoon and spread on a kitchen towel. Transfer to an airtight container and enjoy! The sakkarpara are great for a week or so. 



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Instant Pot Idlis - Fermented Rice Cakes

A simple recipe with just a few ingredients, this no-fail IDLI recipe ferments the batter and steams the idlis in the Instant Pot! Easy to follow recipe and PERFECT results each time! 



The days are getting cooler. A bowl full of sambar with idlis dunked in it is something I crave on windy cold evenings. Making idlis at home is one of my favorite things to do. Plus, piping hot sambar and delicious colorful chutneys make the perfect accompaniment. 

As the days get colder, it becomes difficult to ferment the batter at room temperature. While it is often warm on the West Coast during the day, it does get pretty cool through the night. Fermenting idli or dosa batter becomes a challenge for months. 



I started using Instant Pot to ferment the batter and there has been no looking back. Starting now through winter I shall make the batter using the Instant Pot for sure. The confidence that when I open the pot I shall have a container full of well fermented batter is so good! I can promise my family idlis for dinner and be sure the batter will be ready thanks to the pot.

A lot of my friends make the batter from scratch. A ton of them buy the batter from the store and use it to steam idlis. With this recipe I am sure EVERYONE can make it at home! It is a NO FAIL recipe that I have been using for months. 



Get PERFECT batter for BETTER idlis EACH time! 

Perfect idlis start with making the perfect batter. I use Urad Dal gota that is easily available in Indian stores. The rice I use with this is Idli Rice. Instead of this, idli rava (Cream of Rice) can also be used. The same proportion as rice works well for idlis. 

Soaking the grains in enough water is important. As they absorb water, the level of water might fall below the grains. Add more water if required. 

Next step is grinding. I have been taught by my grandmother to grind dal first, and then rice. Using the water that was used to soak while grinding adds to better idlis.

Add enough salt to the batter and make sure the batter is not very thin. Using anything more than 4 cups of batter in all is not a great idea. The fermented batter will be more than the 6-quart Instant Pot can hold. So be careful!

Once the batter is done, the rest of the procedure is pretty simple. It is as simple as 1-2-3. Just mix the batter, spoon into steamer cavities and steam the idlis. PERFECT idlis each time :)



Why use the Instant Pot?

The fermentation of idli or dosa batter needs warm temperature. During winters the change in temperature during day and night is not the perfect condition to ferment the batter. 

Using the Instant Pot YOGURT mode is a great idea. With an insulated case, the temperature is maintained for the time we need, giving great results irrespective of outside temperature. 

CAUTION here! Using the Instant Pot for fermenting the batter works really well. But beware; DO NOT ferment the batter on HIGH or NORMAL setting. This will be too warm for the batter. At that setting the batter will start cooking! 

Plus, I have mentioned adding a couple of ice cubes in the batter to maintain a slightly cooler temperature. It works really well to avoid cooking the batter in the pot instead of fermenting it! 

Hope you all try this method and make the batter at home! Use the Instant Pot to steam idlis works really well too. The idlis can also be steamed in a traditional cooker.

Love Instant Pot recipes? Head here to see all the wonderful recipes from bloggers and food lovers!
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Ingredients

Urad Dal 1 cup
Idli Rice 3 cups
Methi Seeds/Fenugreek seeds 1 tbsp
Poha/Flattened Rice 2 tbsp 
Salt 1 tbsp
Oil to grease idli stand



Method

To soak and Ferment the Batter

Wash and soak the dal and rice in two containers using enough water to submerge them. Add the fenugreek seeds in the container with the dal. Let them soak for 6-7 hours or overnight.

Using a blender process the dal using little water. Do not use too much water else the batter will be too thin. Then process the rice along with the flattened rice till smooth.

In the base of the Instant Pot add the processed dal, rice and salt. Mix well. Add 2-3 ice cubes on top. The batter should not be runny but not too thick too. Add 

Set the mode of the Instant Pot to 'Yogurt' and 'Less'. Set time to 10 hours. Cover using a glass lid or the Instant Pot lid. If using the Instant Pot lid, set valve to venting.

Once the timer shows YOGT, open and see if the batter has doubled. If not, reset the timer to 2 hours and let the batter ferment. 

Once fermented, the batter can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for a week. The top portion of the batter is BEST for idlis and the bottom layer can be used to make dosa. 



To steam Idlis

Grease the idli stand with oil or non-stick spray. Spoon in some batter in each of the cavities. 

Add some water to the Instant Pot insert and place the idli stand in it. Set the mode of the Instant Pot to 'Steam' and vent to 'venting'

The time required to steam the idlis is 10 minutes. After that, remove the idlis and enjoy with one of these:

Monday, October 8, 2018

Instant Pot Thai Butternut Squash Curry

A great way to make weeknight dinner in under 30 minutes; this Thai Butternut Squash Curry is perfectly flavorful. Plus make steamed rice using the Pot-in-Pot method in the Instant Pot! 


We are racing through October and finally it feels a lot like Fall! The trees are slowly becoming colorful, the air crisp and days shorter. Such things make us want bowls of comforting meals every evening. 

What better than the Instant Pot to make these meals in under an hour and have our bellies full! Pumpkin and squashes are all around us and it the perfect time to make delicious meals using them.


Last weekend I got quite a few butternut squashes and wanted to make something apart from the regular soup. We had a truckload of Thai Basil in our yard and it was the perfect opportunity to make a Thai curry with the squash.

For the longest time out Thai curries have had tofu or vegetables. So this Fall I made a curry with the squash pieces. The result was PERFECT. Slightly sweet when you bite in, the curry was mildly spiced and had a TON of Basil flavor. 



Why use the Instant Pot for the Curry?

Thai curries are something we love in our home. Served with either steamed rice or Curry Fried Rice, we love all our curries. Ever since I started making the curries in the Instant Pot, I have not gone back to the Stove-top version. 

A simple to follow recipe of adding ingredients, stirring and cooking on high pressure; this recipe is NO-FAIL and yes, this NEVER gives me the dreaded BURN warning.



The Instant Pot method does not need stirring the pieces once they are added to the curry so minimizes the chances of getting a mushy curry. If making on the stove-top, we need to be a little cautious not to mix the curry too  much else the pieces will disintegrate and make a mess! 

Plus, a great way to make the curry and rice together; the Instant Pot has been a boon to get the entire meal together in a jiffy. Using the Pot-in-Pot (PIP) method is great to make this recipe in under 30 minutes.


If you are an Instant Pot fan like me, try these recipes from the blog:
Variations to the Butternut Squash Curry

I made this curry using butternut squash. However, the same can be made using pumpkins or potatoes. And yes, using assorted vegetables or tofu in the curry works well too. When the squashes are not in season, I like to make this with baby corn, pineapple, peppers, carrots and beans. 

If you are not a great fan of red curry paste, use green curry paste. Full of flavors of galangal and basil, this curry tastes equally yummy. I have not tried using yellow curry with butternut squash, but I am sure that will be awesome too.


Ingredients


For the Curry
Butternut Squash 1 medium, peeled and diced
Onion 1 small, diced
Green Pepper 1 small, deseeded and diced
Garlic 2 clives, minced
Ginger 1 inch piece, minced
Thai Basil 4-5 leaves, chopped
Vegetable Oil 2 tbsp
Red Curry paste 1 1/2 tbsp
Curry Powder 1 tsp
Soy Sauce 1 tsp (Tamari if Vegan)
Vinegar 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar 1 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Flakes 1 tsp
Lime Juice 1/2 tsp
Thick Coconut Milk 1 cup


For the Rice
White Rice 1 cup
Water 1 cup and 2 tbsp
Oil 1 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp


Method


In the base of the instant pot add the vegetable oil. Set the mode to 'sauté' and 'more'. Once hot, add minced garlic an ginger and sauté till fragrant. Add in onions and peppers. Mix and sauté for two more minute. 

Next add the Red Thai curry paste and curry powder and sauté for a minute. Add in the coconut milk, salt, sugar and half the chilli flakes. Also add soy sauce, vinegar and shredded basil leaves. 

Add more water if it is too thick for your liking. Stir well, add the butternut squash cubes and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes. Do not mix any more. 

Also, wash the rice till the water runs clean. Add to a steel bowl and pour in water. Add salt and oil and mix. Place a trivet in the Instant Pot and place the rice bowl on it. Close the lid. 

Press 'cancel' and then press 'Pressure Cook' and 'High pressure'. Set vent to 'sealing' and time to 3 minutes. Once the time is up, do a quick release. Remove the bowl if rice and fluff with a fork.

Add in lime juice to the curry and mix well. Top with spring onions, roasted peanuts, red chilli flakes and cilantro. Serve with steamed rice or make some curry fried rice using the steamed rice.