Indian food recipes adapted for Instant Pot

March 15, 2024

Photo by Andrew Miller, Andrew Miller Photography

Anupy Singla, author of Instant Pot Indian.

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is check the weather app on my phone, and then I scan my emails. I had to do a double-take recently when I opened an email newsletter from Anupy Singla, one of my favorite cookbook authors. Her post began: “This week, I launched my dream project. My own version of ghar ka khana (Indian home cooking) at a mainstream grocery store – Harvest Market in Springfield, Illinois.” I reached for my glasses to make sure I read this right. What? Here in Springfield?

Back when I was a dentist, a dear Indian-American patient who knew how much I loved Indian food would sometimes come to her appointments with a Tupperware container of her ghar ka khana, which was always far superior to anything I’ve had at an Indian restaurant. Being able to buy ghar ka khana from a local grocery store was very exciting news, yet I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why did Singla choose Springfield?”

I subscribe to several food blogs and Singla’s Indian As Apple Pie has been one of my longtime favorites. I’ve been following her since 2013. Singla is considered one of America’s foremost authorities on Indian home cooking and has authored four bestselling cookbooks on the subject. Singla believes that Indian cuisine could achieve the same popularity in the U.S. as Mexican or Chinese cooking if two key factors could be addressed: understandability and accessibility. The mission of her cookbooks is to provide readers with recipes that demystify authentic Indian cooking for non-Indian home cooks. Because Indian food can’t be made successfully without the right ingredients and not everybody has access to an Indian grocery store, Singla founded Indian as Apple Pie, a company that creates and sells custom spice blends, seasoning sauces and other essential Indian cooking ingredients.

Singla wasn’t always a food writer. She began her professional life as an on-air TV reporter and anchor for CLTV News, the cable arm of Tribune Media and sister station to Chicago’s WGN TV, and for Bloomberg TV. Her pivot to authoring cookbooks grew from her experience of balancing her roles as a broadcast journalist and a mother of two young daughters. Her husband is a consultant who travels Mondays through Fridays, so she gave up reporting to be home with her children. A common theme that runs through her four books and her entrepreneurial endeavors is to empower people to provide flavorful and nutritional family meals that offer cultural authenticity and ease of preparation, without compromising taste and quality. Unlike typical Indian restaurant dishes, Singla’s recipes are low in cream and oils.

Singla’s latest book is Instant Pot Indian. She has adapted 70 classic recipes for the Instant Pot, which is a countertop electric pressure cooker. Conventional stovetop pressure cookers have been a staple in Indian homes since the 1950s. The combination of high temperature and pressure cooks lentils, rice and tough cuts of meat in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional methods. Safety concerns have kept pressure cookers from gaining widespread acceptance in the U.S. On a few occasions, lids have exploded off, causing serious burns. The electric version with several built-in safety mechanisms makes cooking these dishes safer and more convenient, streamlining the process and often eliminating the need for several different pots and pans.

Instant Pot Indian offers recipes in a chart format, which gives ingredients lists and cooking times for three sizes of Instant Pot – three, six and eight quarts. This is a helpful feature, especially when you want to successfully scale a recipe up or down. While other books focus on recipes for smaller quantities, Instant Pot Indian provides recipes that max out the Instant Pot size. For example, two cups of beans can be successfully made in a three-quart Instant Pot. This helps the user to make the best use of their appliance no matter the size. The recipes in Instant Pot Indian are incredibly flavorful. Singla tweaked some recipes for over a year, remaking them to ensure the flavor was the same as what you get from cooking on a stovetop or slow cooker. Overall, Instant Pot Indian is a well-written and informative cookbook that is perfect for anyone who loves Indian food and wants to use their Instant Pot to make it.

Singla has always wanted to share her passion for healthy Indian cooking with a wider audience, and she hopes her collaboration with Springfield’s Harvest Market will help to introduce more people to the joys of ghar ka khana, Indian home cooking. She chose Harvest Market because it already carried Indian As Apple Pie’s product line and had a large “made from scratch” deli program that was capable of executing her recipes. Over the past months, Singla has worked closely with the deli department, training the staff to prepare her dishes properly without shortcuts or compromises. Harvest Market will offer a variety of her most popular dishes, including chaat masala chicken kebabs, chana masala, butter chicken and basmati rice. IT also hopes to also offer rajmah, dal makhani and moong dal. The meals will be available in the deli section in ready-to-eat formats. Also available are her retail products: spices, spice blends, starter sauces and chutneys. I especially love Indian As Apple Pie’s Tamarind Chutney.

Singla will be in Springfield on Saturday, March 23, for a meet-and-greet and cooking demonstration of recipes from her new cookbook, Instant Pot Indian. The free public event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harvest Market’s demonstration kitchen located on the mezzanine level at 3001 Veterans Parkway. She will showcase some tips for the Instant Pot for Indian food from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Singla is a charismatic speaker with a wealth of knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing her in person and I’ve already compiled a list of cooking questions I want to ask.

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