Hey Everyone, I recently got a new toy to play with- The Instant Pot ULTRA 6 Quart 10-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker! It’s the latest-greatest uber-cool addition to the famous Instant Pot family. As if looks weren’t enough, this pressure cooker is loaded with easy and customizable functions too. So, I took the ULTRA for a short test-drive to see if it lived up to the hype. Based on that, here is my Instant Pot ULTRA 6 Quart Review. Continue Reading…
Pot-in-Pot Cooking (PIP)
When I first got my Instant Pot pressure cooker,like many of you, I joined a few Facebook groups, did the water test, boiled eggs, cooked rice and moved on to main meals. But, every now and then, I would come across the term, Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Instant Pot. It sounded interesting, but intimidating! I read up about it, and experimented with my first PIP meal using stackable containers, Coconut Lime Chicken with Coconut Rice , and it was a huge success! So, this post is for all my fellow cooks, who want to give it a try, but don’t know where to start.
In this post you will find:
- Concept of Pot-in-Pot (PIP) cooking explained
- Examples of PIP cooking
- What you need to get started
- Popular PIP accessories
- My tried and tested PIP instant pot stacking recipes
What is Pot-in-Pot (PIP) method?
Let’s understand the basic concept first. Pot-in-Pot method is exactly what it sounds like. It’s cooking something in a smaller, oven-safe pot (or basket, trivet etc.), inside the main pot of the pressure cooker. You start by adding water in the inner pot, then place a trivet, which is a metal stand that will give you a base to put another bowl or container on top. Based on your recipe, you could place a steamer basket instead of a trivet, or, you could cook a curry with liquid in the main pot and rice or potatoes in a bowl on top. The idea here is that the ‘food on the trivet’ never touches the liquid at the bottom, it steam cooks.
Why cook PIP? Here’s a few scenarios…
- Cooking entrée and side in the same pot. For example, chicken in the main pot, and rice in a smaller bowl, placed on a trivet. Cook time: 6 mins Manual/Pressure Cook,, NPR10.
- Cooking multiple items that have the same cook time. For example, broccoli and cauliflower in one pot, peas and carrots in another. Cook time: 0 mins Manual/Pressure Cook, QR.
- Steam-cooking foods that don’t need to touch the main pot or liquid, for example, boiling eggs or chicken breast, salmon fillets etc.
- Making desserts like cheesecake or lava cakes, which turn out great when baked in a water-bath.
- Re-heating food is a lot easier when you can set two or more pots in the Instant Pot, to re-heat everything at the same time.
- Cooking a smaller quantity. If I’m making 1/2 cup of rice, I need 1/2 cup of water or broth for that, that’s not enough liquid for the main pot to come up to pressure. Cooking PIP takes care of that. Rice cooks evenly without scorching the bottom of the pot.
- Cooking foods that stick. For example, lasagna, or any recipe with a cheese as an ingredient has a higher tendency to burn if cooked directly.
What do I need for PIP cooking?
You need a few accessories to be able to cook PIP. The good news is that the Instant Pot already comes with a one, and you may be able to find some in you kitchen cabinet. Here’s is what you need for PIP cooking:
- Instant Pot: The #1 thing you need for PIP cooking, but you knew that already 🙂
- Water: You need to put 1-2 cups of water, depending on the size of your pot, in the main pot to build pressure for cooking.
- Trivet: The Instant Pot comes with a trivet, so you can start experimenting with basics like boiled eggs, chicken breast etc, without having to buy more accessories.
- Oven-safe bowl: Any oven safe bowl will work here, ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel, silicone, even the disposable aluminum bakeware. Just remember, NO PLASTIC containers, and Pyrex is to be used with caution. I’ve never had a Pyrex bowl break, but have heard of some exploding, especially, when it went straight from the freezer to the pot.
- Steamer basket: If you’re boiling/steaming a few eggs, the trivet should work fine, but if you’re doing a dozen, then a steamer basket comes in handy, especially, when pulling out.
- Spring-form pan /Push pan: If you are planning on making a cheesecake or a lasagna, a springform pan or a push pan comes in very handy. It’s removable ring makes slicing much easier.
- Stackable containers/bowls: If you’re planning on cooking multiple items at once, these work out great.
Here’s are some accessories that I use for PIP cooking:
Happy Women’s Day to all you wonderful women!
Every year on Women’s Day, I send e-cards and flowers to the awesome women in my family. I wanted to do something different this year. I thought of putting together their personal favorite recipes in a post! What better way to honor and celebrate the lovely ladies in my family than that! Hope you enjoy and celebrate yourself today and always! Spice Cravings wishes you all a very Happy Women’s Day!
I have to start this post with the one who brought me into this world and helped me become the woman I am today. If you were to ask me for one dish that reminds me of my mom, I would say Carrot Halwa/ Gajar Ka Halwa. It is made by slow cooking grated carrots with milk and sugar, and flavored with cardamom and saffron. Garnished with chopped almonds and cashews, this dish is the perfect comfort dessert for winters. Did I mention that my mom makes the world’s best Carrot Halwa 🙂
Both my daughters enjoy a wide variety of international cuisine. They enjoy anything and everything, from Sushi to BBQ Pork Ribs to Lasagna to a humble Lentils and rice. But if you ask them what their favorite dishes are, one would say Chicken Biryani, and the other one would say, Goat Curry. My daughters are the reason I started this blog. It was meant to be online recipe book for them to follow. So, a big credit for Spice Cravings goes to my two little women! Here are their favorite dishes. Chicken Biryani is a rice-based dish, like a Pilaf, which is made by steam-cooking rice with marinated chicken, with yogurt and warm spices. Goat Curry, is an extremely popular curry from the Indian subcontinent, where mutton (goat-meat), is simmered in aromatics and a homemade yogurt sauce.
My younger sister, is the Super Woman of our house 🙂 A successful entrepreneur and a wonderful mother. It always amazes me how she balances work and home so well. She’s always juggling so many hats on a regular basis, so a big salute to her for doing it so successfully! #Don’tKnowHowSheDoesit . She loves Butter Chicken! Actually, she loves the sauce more than the chicken. My mom makes the same recipe with Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) for her and she enjoys it just as much. Butter Chicken is a popular north-Indian dish, where chicken is marinated with yogurt and Garam Masala. It’s grilled, and then it simmers in a tomato based curry, seasoned with warm Indian spices, and garnished with fresh heavy cream!
This post wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to my mother-in-law, who taught me so many tricks and tips in the kitchen. One of those amazing short-cuts, is the Master Curry Sauce, which made life so much easier for me, especially when my kids were babies, and I had very little time to cook. Master Curry Sauce is a versatile Indian gravy that forms the base for so many awesome dishes in north-Indian cuisine. I always make a big batch of this sauce and pop some in the freezer for later use. It makes weeknight dinners a breeze. Simply defrost this sauce, add lentils, chicken or vegetables and pressure cook it. Dinner comes together in no time, with minimum effort!
Me: Last, but not the least, I want to join the celebration and include my favorite comfort food recipe too. Just like many of you, my average day is super packed, and I find myself juggling between work, kids commitments and home. But on days like today, I try my best to make time for myself, even if it is for quick coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops. And when I have more time to spare, I make comfort foods that I enjoy the most. On top of that list is Kadhi-Chawal, a tangy yogurt soup, seasoned with Indian spices and served with steamed Basmati rice. It’s a real treat for me!
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it. Have a wonderful Women’s Day!
Hearty, delicious & healthy! You will never believe that this Instant pot Pasta Sauce is made with leftover veggies, cheese and meats in your fridge. I call it my “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” pasta sauce.
Whenever leftover veggies and cheese start piling up in my refrigerator, I make this sauce :). It’s also a great sauce to make when you’re short an ingredient or two. You can never tell by the end of it, it tastes so good.
Weeknight Dinner Made Easy
I’ve always got a jar of this sauce in my freezer. It makes weeknight dinners a flash. Simply boil pasta, drain it, add this sauce to the same pot, simmer it for a few minutes, grate some parmesan cheese over it, and your one-pot dinner is done!
You can easily skip the meat and make a vegetarian version of this pasta sauce.
Plenty of Vegetable Choices
The choices are endless with this sauce. You can pretty much add any veggies you have lying around. Here are some that I have used successfully- mushrooms, celery, eggplant, zucchini, squash, carrots, cabbage, onions, garlic, spring onions, leeks, chives, spinach, kale, turnips and peppers.
Plenty of Meat Choices
As with veggies, you can add any meat or a combinations of meats that you have on hand. I have tried making this sauce with all kinds of ground meat and sausage, chopped cooked sausage, leftover mortadella, salami, shredded chicken, bacon and prosciutto.
Choices for Sauce
I typically have a can of crushed or diced tomatoes in my pantry. If I’m using diced, I like to puree it a little with my hand blender before adding to the pot.
I also keep a jar of my preferred marinara sauce, which also works great in this sauce. If you have any leftover tomatoes to use, just throw them in there, finely chopped, and they’ll blend in well.
This is a great sauce to sneak in a ton of veggies in a pasta sauce. If your little one is picky about chunks of veggies, pulse each vegetable a few extra times in the food processor, then increase the cook time to 5-6 minutes. The veggies will almost dissolve in the sauce, and no one will ever know 😉
I always make a big batch of this sauce. This works great with a simple boiled pasta; makes a great instant pot ravioli lasagna, as a pizza sauce with some fresh or shredded mozzarella and hand-torn-basil; for meatball sandwiches.
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The Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pasta Sauce is exactly what it sounds like, it's got a ton of veggies, aromatics, meat, cheese & tomatoes! I've always got a jar of this chunky, delicious, & super healthy sauce in my freezer. Make this sauce to clean up the fridge, when leftovers of veggies & cheese start piling up.
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes or Marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons Italian seasoning or Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. Use only 2 tsp if you use marinara sauce instead of crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt : adjust based on seasoning blend
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper : adjust based on seasoning blend
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper : adjust to heat preference
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 medium carrots cut into chunks
- 2 cups crimini mushrooms
- 1 small onion cut into chunks
- 1 lb ground chicken or beef or turkey (or a combination)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated or similar blend
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil hand torn
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- Prep: In a food processor, throw in garlic cloves and pulse 5-6 times, to chop them fine. Add carrot chunks and repeat the process till carrots are finely chopped. Add mushrooms and pulse 5-7 times to chop them fine as well. Remove in a bowl. Add onion chunks and pulse 5-6 times to chop. Add to the chopped veggies. The reason I do onions separately is so that they stay chunky and don't release their juices.
Heat olive oil in instant pot on SAUTE mode (high). When display reads HOT, add ground meat and don't stir for a minute or so, this allows the meat to brown on one side. If making this sauce vegetarian, skip this step. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula and stir. Add chopped veggies and saute for another minute. Add spices and crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce. If using crushed tomatoes, add more seasoning and spices (check ingredient section). Stir everything together. If the sauce looks thick, add 1/4-1/2 cup water. Close lid. Vent set to Sealing. Pressure cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Wait 5-7 minutes before manually releasing pressure (NPR5/7). Open lid after pin drops. Stir in grated parmesan cheese and garnish with basil or parsley before serving.
This sauce can also be easily cooked in a big stock pot or sauce pot. Follow all steps and cover and cook on medium-heat, for about 12-15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes.
❤️ Spread the Love ❤️ If you make this recipe, share your food photo with hashtag #spicecravings on Facebook or Instagram, so we can see it and others can enjoy it too! Thank you!
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Out of all the Indian festivals, Holi is my absolute favorite! It is the festival of colors after all! Growing up in India, that was one day, where everyone could officially go crazy, and get away with it. I still remember how the day before Holi used to go in buying every possible color powder I could find in the stores, and, getting my water guns ready for the big day. I remember waking up before everyone else in the house, with sheer excitement of the day ahead!
The one thing that’s common in all Indian festivals, is a variety of amazingly delicious food. Every region in north India has their own spin on holi delicacies. From savory delicacies to mouth-watering desserts, it is a day spent in food heaven:-) My personal favorite of all these recipes is homemade Gujiya! I could just make a meal out of it 🙂 I used to make Gujiya the traditional way, the way my mother-in-law taught me, stuff them and fry them to a golden brown perfection. But past few years, I have been baking them instead of frying them and my kids love it. They love the flaky pastry and the yummy gujiya filling in every bite. And a big plus is that it is super easy and mess free to make. You can check out the recipe for fried and baked Gujiya underneath. Sharing some of my favorites with you!
Here are 25+ recipes to add to your Holi menu, and the best part is, most of them can be done in under 30 minutes, so that you spend less time cooking, and more time enjoying them! Spice Cravings wishes you all a very Happy Holi!