Chicken and Vegetable skewers are one of my favorite things to make. I love meals where I can take care of the protein and vegetables in one-shot. Depending on my family’s mood, we eat it with a garden salad, or with toasted Pitas and Hummus, and of course, one of our favorite combinations is with delicious and fragrant Lemon Rice! These skewers make for great finger foods for entertaining as well!
This meal is super quick to put together too, which makes it very weeknight friendly. I buy pre-cut chicken from Trader Joe’s. Rinse and soak my basmati rice while I prep the vegetables. Dice up some onions, bell peppers and zucchini. Make a marinade with greek yogurt and dry spices. Toss chicken and veggies in the marinade and thread them onto bamboo skewers. I typically end up broiling these skewers, simply due to a texture preference. I have elaborated more on that in the next paragraph. Simultaneously, set the rice in my Instant Pot. In the end, this meal is at the table in under 30 minutes. I serve this with a Garden Salad with a lemon vinaigrette or a Greek salad sometimes.
Different cooking techniques result in different textures for the Chicken and Vegetable skewers. How you cook them is entirely your preference. I have for you 3 ways you can cook your skewers, and here’s what to expect from a texture standpoint. If you grill them or broil them in the oven, there is subtle char-broiled flavor that gets infused in the chicken and vegetables. The vegetables get cooked, but not all the way through and still retain their crunch. If you cook your skewers in the pressure cooker along with the Lemon rice, the chicken will be super moist and the vegetables will be tender, more like a steamed texture. You can choose vegetables that take a longer time cook, like turnips, carrots, potato cubes instead. My family prefers grilling or broiling them.
To make an all-vegetarian version of this dish, you can substitute chicken cubes with Paneer cubes or Extra-Firm Tofu cubes. Follow the recipe and marination process. If grilling them, reduce the time to 2-3 minutes per side, flipping them once. Continue Reading…
Beans are a staple food in so many cultures around the world. They’re nutritious, contain protein as well as fiber, they’re widely available, inexpensive and above all- almost every culture has a comfort food version including beans. In northern India, a popular rustic combination of Beans and Rice is called Rajma Chawal, where Rajma refers to any variety of kidney beans, and, Chawalmeans rice. This dish is very close to my heart- it represents my Punjabi roots and has countless childhood memories attached to it.
There are many varieties of kidney beans, mostly distinguished by color and region, where they’re grown. My favorite type is dark kidney beans. If I have time to plan ahead, I soak the dry kidney beans the night before. Then, I cook these rinsed and drained beans in a mildly spicy, tomato based curry, seasoned with warm Indian spices. Beans take around 45-50 minutes to cook on a stove-top, so I always pressure cook them in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot, which cuts the cooking time in half. For weeknights, using canned kidney beans and crushed tomatoes in the same recipe, makes this comfort meal possible in 5-6 minutes of cooking time. In the same amount of time, you can cook white Basmati rice, Brown rice or quinoa. Continue Reading…
Lamb Korma is an Indian Mughlai dish where Lamb stew meat is braised in a cream based sauce and bold Indian spices and simmered for hours to reach the perfect tenderness and flavor. The word Korma or Kurma draws it’s origin from the Persian word Kormah, which literally means “braise”.
The flavors of Korma are developed by using the popular spice blend called Garam Masala, which includes, Cardamom, Cumin, Coriander, Cloves, Bay leaves etc. These flavors are infused in a yogurt, cream or coconut cream sauce. The meat is then simmered in this sauce for hours over slow heat, till it becomes tender. I am able to mimic that slow-cooking set-up by cooking this Korma in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot DUO. The end flavors are to die for and I and am able to cut down the cooking time significantly. You’ll never guess how easy this is!
You can make the korma sauce using three different cream bases- heavy cream, yogurt or coconut milk. My family loves the taste of a coconut milk based sauce, so that’s what I end up making most of the time. Using coconut milk also makes this dish is dairy-free, so people with dairy restrictions can also enjoy this amazing curry. If you’re eating low-carb, you can have this with cauli-rice or nutty brown rice. My family loves to eat this korma with butter naan, paratha- flat bread, cumin rice or brown rice. I serve this with a side of garden salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette. The salad adds a beautiful contrast to the creamy Korma, and adds some greens to your meal too!
You can make this Korma with chicken or beef too. For boneless skinless chicken, reduce the cooking time to 5-6 minutes of high-pressure cooking. For beef stew meat, increase the cooking time to 25-30 minutes of high pressure cooking, depending on the size of pieces. Continue Reading…
Sweet and juicy Peaches. Spicy and warm Ginger. What happens when you cook them together? You get the perfect blend of sugar and spice- Peach Ginger Chutney. Chutney is a spicy condiment made with fruits or vegetables, vinegar, spices, sugar and a pinch of salt.
It’s origin can be traced back to India. Fruit or vegetables chutney evolved with the Anglo-Indian cuisine in India, where the main aim was to preserve the seasonal fruit or vegetable for year round consumption. As a deviation from the Indian pickle, the oil and spices were replaced with vinegar and sugar, both adding to the longer shelf life of the product.
Peaches are my all-time favorite fruit. I can have them in anyway, fresh, as jam, canned in light syrup, in a salad, on a cheese platter, and of course, as a chutney. Chutneys and Jams are a nice way to enjoy the fresh taste of your favorite fruit, for the year round. I am very grateful for the giving Peach Tree in my backyard. This summer, it was so generous that we were picking fruit for a long time. We gave some to neighbors, colleagues, friends and even strangers:-) Then, we made Jam– oh boy did we make some Jam! Let’s just say we made enough to last us and our friends the whole year. We ended up freezing up a whole lot of them. The peaches you see in this recipe, came out of my freezer (that’s why they look a little brown:-). Continue Reading…
Beans and Rice are a staple food in so many cultures around the world. It’s nutritious, it’s widely available, it’s inexpensive and above all- it’s hearty food which leaves you full and satisfied. In northern India, this popular rustic combination is called Rajma Chawal, where Rajma refers to any variety of kidney beans, and, Chawalmeans rice. This dish is very close to my heart- it represents my Punjabi roots and has countless childhood memories attached to it.
If I have time to plan ahead, I soak the dry kidney beans the night before. Then, I cook these rinsed and drained beans in a mildly spicy, tomato based curry, seasoned with warm Indian spices. Beans take around 45-50 minutes to cook on a stove-top, so I always pressure cook them, which cuts the cooking time in half. For weeknights, using canned kidney beans and crushed tomatoes in the same recipe, makes this comfort meal possible in 5-6 minutes of cooking time. In the same amount of time, you can cook white rice or quinoa.
Kheer is a popular form of Rice Pudding from the northern Indian cuisine. It is typically made by boiling rice, with milk and sugar, and is enhanced by cardamom or saffron and dried fruits and nuts like cashews, almonds, pistachios and raisins. There are many variations and names of this sweet dish all over India. It can also be made with broken wheat, tapioca or vermicelli. Kheer is typically served as a dessert and is often made as an offering to the Gods during prayer ceremonies or festive occasions.
Rice puddings are found in nearly every area of the world. There are variations in recipes based on cooking methods and list of ingredients, but rice (or a similar starch) and milk seem to be the common ones in most. According to Wikipedia, there are close to 60 different variations of Rice Puddings around the world. I like to flavor mine with freshly ground cardamom. If you don’t like the black specs in it, you can use the store bought version, which is much lighter. Also, you can use raisins, coconut and even saffron to enhance your rice pudding. So, if your version is different than mine, simply use this recipe as a guideline and do your magic.
Till I bought my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, I used to make Kheer on the stove-top. It would take me around 30-40 minutes (depending on quantity), but I had to babysit the pot. I had to adjust temperature, keep stirring, make sure the milk doesn’t boil over. Definitely worth it, but why do that when you can have a hands-free option! Untill now, I believed that dairy has a tendency to curdle under high and fluctuating pressure, which is how many stove-top pressure cookers operate. But the Instant Potis different. The Porridge mode allows you to cook at a consistent and even temperature- no changes in pressure till the cooking is done. So now, I can fill the pot with the ingredients, give it a stir, and set a timer on Porridge mode and forget about it! And it tastes amazing too- that’s a huge win for me.
My Mom’s Tip : In order to ensure that the milk doesn’t stick/burn at the bottom of the pan, start by adding 1/4 cup water and then add the milk. Don’t ask me how, but this trick works every single time.
My Tip : By turning the Saute mode on initially, the milks gets tempered, which means, it warms a bit before we close the lid for pressure cooking. This prevents the milk from curdling. Also, starting with a super clean pot also ensures that. So, wipe your inner pot clean to make sure nothing from the last meal is still sticking to it.
Stove-Top Recipe: If you were making this on the stove-top, I’d suggest a heavy bottom sauce pot like this one:Non-Stick Sauce Pan.
I start by adding the milk, give it a few minutes to warm up and then add rinsed and drained rice and nuts. Keep the heat at medium-high and stir intermittently, till the milk reaches a boil.
Turn down the heat on medium and stir till rice get cooked.
Add sugar and stir till sugar dissolves. You can mash the rice a little using a Potato Masher– it gives a good texture to the Kheer.
Turn off the flame till you reach the right texture for how you like your Kheer. I personally, don’t like to thicken it a lot, because it will naturally thicken as it cools down. If it’s too thick, add more milk and adjust the sugar accordingly. Finish by sprinkling in some cardamom powder and enjoy warm or cold!
Prep: Rinse rice 2-3 times or till water runs clear. Soak in water till you arrange everything together. Chop nuts to your liking. Crush cardamom if using fresh.
Turn on Instant pot to Saute Mode. Add 1/4 cup water. Now add the milk. This prevents the milk from scorching the bottom of the pan. Add drained rice, sugar, nuts and give it a light stir. Hit cancel. Set instant pot to Porridge mode for 20 minutes. Valve set to Sealing Mode. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 15 minutes (NPR 15).
Open the lid. You can mash the rice a little using a Potato Masher- it gives a good texture to the Kheer. Add ground cardamom and stir. Kheer is ready to eat. You can enjoy this warm or cold!
If the Kheer is thin for your liking, you can cook of the milk by turning on the SAUTE mode. But remember, that it will thicken quit a bit as it cools. If Kheer is too thick for you, you can add more milk to it and cook it till the milk boils. Remember to add more sugar.
Whenever I want to test a new Chinese restaurant, I always order their Kung Pao Chicken. That determines if I’ll be going back to that place again or not. It is my all-time favorite asian stir-fry dish to eat! After having tasted a gazillion Kung Paos, I have to admit, in the end, nothing beats ‘Panda Express’s Kung Pao Chicken:-)
Kung Pao Chicken is asian comfort food for me. Tender juicy chicken, crunchy onions, peppers and celery, dressed with a light garlicky sauce, which is a perfect blend of salty & sweet goodness. Peanuts complete this dish by adding a slight crunch. I don’t even need rice or chowmein with it, I can eat a bowl full as-is. That being said, it pairs really well with brown jasmine rice.Continue Reading…
Hard Boiled Eggs! Here’s an easy and fail proof recipe to make perfect Hard Boiled Eggs in a pressure cooker! The popular 5-5-5 method works like a charm every single time and makes for some real-easy-to-peel boiled eggs. The 5-5-5 method is not a secret code- it’s an easy way to remember this recipe- 5 minutes of pressure cooking, 5 minutes of rest before opening lid, followed by 5 minutes of water bath. It’s really that simple! The result is so consistent- you’ll be amazed.
So, why bother pressure cooking your eggs? The answer to that is consistent results , but before I elaborate on that, I have a confession to make- I cannot make perfect looking boiled eggs on the stove- I just cannot. No matter, how much I try, how many timers I set, I just cannot get the perfect center and cannot peel them nice and clean. A lot of my egg white ends up sticking to the shell and then starts the battle between the egg and me, and the egg usually wins! The result is always an unappetizing, butchered egg. When I saw so many people getting great results cooking them in the electrical pressure cooker, the Instant Pot , I tried it myself, and the results were amazing. The selling point was the ease of peeling them. The yolk texture was just right for me- moist and creamy, not dry or crumbly at all. It took me just a few minutes more than the time on the stove, so pressure cooking the eggs in my Instant Pot was a clear winner for me.
Thai Panang Curry is a one of our must-haves when we go to a Thai restaurant. It’s a rich, mildly spicy and creamy coconut curry that can be made with Chicken, Seafood or Tofu (Vegetarian). This is another go-to recipe in my Fill-it, Shut-it, Forget-it series. Another weeknight savior!
A thick curry paste is used as a base for most Thai curries. The Panang curry paste typically consists of dried red chilies, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, sugar, salt, kaffir lime, galangal (Thai ginger), spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom and bay leaves. This paste is simmered with coconut milk and then protein and vegetables are added to it. Over the years, I have tried various brands of Thai curry pastes, but nothing comes close to the brand called Maesri. Their curry pastes are so authentic tasting, that if you ever did a blind taste test, you won’t be able to tell between a restaurant version and yours. I always order it from Amazon.com Maesri Thai Panang Curry Paste. I feel the same way about coconut milk too. This is my tried and trusted brand of Coconut Milk – Chaokoh .
It is real simple to make this curry. Turn on your Instant Pot on Saute mode. Stir in the coconut milk and curry paste, bring it to simmer while you add vegetables and protein. Stir it. Shut it. Cook for 3 minutes on Manual, QR after 5 minutes! Finish with brown sugar and few drops of lime juice and you’re done! Serve with brown or white Jasmine rice- That simple!
I make this mostly with Chicken, Shrimp or Tofu. The choice of vegetables is also huge. I add baby corn because my kids love it. You can add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, bell peppers. I would add the peppers after cooking though and saute for 2 minutes. When cooking this with Firm Tofu or Extra Firm Tofu, reduce the cooking time to 1 minute since the Tofu just needs to absorb the flavors- everything is already cooked. When cooking this with Shrimp, cook the curry for 1 minute, QR, and then add the Shrimp, saute’ for 1-2 minutes, till they turn opaque. If you add them earlier, they’ll be over cooked. Possibilities are just endless with this curry- go ahead, make it your own and enjoy!
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces (or Firm Tofu)
1/2-1 teaspoon brown sugar
Few drops of lime juice
1 cup broccoli florets
Thai basil leaves for garnish (optional)
Prep: Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. If using Form Tofu- cut it into 1 inch pieces . Chop baby corn and carrots. Cut 1 small head of broccoli into florets and keep aside.
Turn Instant Pot on Saute. Add coconut milk and water. Add curry paste and whisk it till it is blended with the coconut milk. Add baby corn, carrots (or whatever vegetables you are using). Add chicken or Tofu pieces. Stir everything. Make sure the curry mix is simmering at this point before you close the lid. It prevents the coconut milk from curdling.
Close lid. Hit cancel. Set vent to Sealing mode. Press 3 minutes Manual (high). Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, (QR after 5).
Open the lid. Check for seasoning. Add brown sugar and lime juice. Add broccoli florets and let them hangout in the curry for about 30 seconds so they get cooked a bit. They'll still stay crunchy. You can leave them in there for another minute or 2 on Saute if you like them cooked more. If at this point, the sauce is thinner than you like, hit Saute and cook it off for a minute or two. Serve with White or Brown Jasmine rice!
If after opening the lid, the coconut milk seems curdled, don't worry, it hasn't gone bad. The heat and the pressure just separated the fat from the milk. You can turn on Saute mode and whisk it gently back together. It'll be a smooth curry again!
Minestrone Soup is an Italian soup, typically made with root vegetables, like onions, celery, carrots, stock, dried herbs, beans and tomatoes. It’s mostly vegetarian and often includes rice or pasta- perfect one-pot meal! I use this recipe a lot for weeknight meals- it’s one of my fill-it, shut-it, forget-it, meal series. Simply dump all ingredients in the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker), close the lid, set a 3-4 minute timer. Once it’s cooked, manually release pressure after 5 minutes and you’re done! It’s that easy!
I have always noticed how our meals often reflect the colors of the season. This soup certainly screams Fall– a perfect blend of orange, red and green, it is also the perfect comfort soup to have on a cold and chilly evening. This soup comes together so easily, it’s almost wrong to call it ‘home-cooked’:-)
You can easily customize this soup to your taste- I keep switching the veggies in this soup. Sometimes, I add chopped squash or pumpkin to this and it taste amazing. I prefer to use canned beans in Minestrone Soup, simply out of convenience. The time it takes for dry beans to cook is too long for the vegetables, so, if using dry beans, one has to make this a two-step cooking process- cook the beans first and then add the remaining ingredients. I personally like using organic Northern beans here, but you can use the beans of your choice, Kidney, Pinto or Cannellini Beans. I make this soup with low-sodium vegetable broth, but you can use regular broth or even chicken/Beef broth. You can add diced tomatoes to this soup. We prefer a slightly less tomatoey flavor, so adding tomato paste just works out great for us.
Typically, this soup calls for a small pasta. I substitute it with Quinoa. My family prefers the taste of quinoa, plus it bumps up the fiber and protein in the soup. You could even add barley or bulgar instead. I add chopped spinach after cooking. The heat from the soup wilts it down. You can use any dark leafy green instead of spinach- kale would be a great addition here too. Garnish it with chopped basil, or freshly grated parmesan cheese and call it a day!
Optional Variation: Sometimes, I like to add an extra, totally optional, ingredient in this soup towards the end. I add chopped, pre-cooked, chicken and jalapeño sausage from Trader Joe’s. The sausage is fully cooked, so it just needs to hang out in the soup for a few minutes and it absorbs the flavors of the soup and becomes really soft. My family loves the combination of this spicy sausage with this soup, but you can skip it and make it totally vegetarian.
Stove-top:You can certainly cook this soup on the stove-top too. Add all the ingredients in a soup pot, stir well, and cook covered on medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes. Follow the remaining instructions for garnish and enjoy!
Stove-top Pressure cooker (Hawkins/Prestige): Follow all instructions and cook for 2 whistles in the pressure cooker. Wait 5 minutes and manually release pressure by carefully lifting the pressure weight.
Few tablespoons grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Prep: Chop vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, celery, spinach). If using fresh garlic, finely chop garlic cloves. Rinse and drain canned beans.
In the inner pot, add olive oil, garlic, chopped vegetables, beans, vegetable stock, spices, chili-garlic sauce, tomato paste (or diced tomatoes), quinoa (or elbow macaroni), and stir well.
Close lid. Set vent to Sealing mode. Cook on Manual (high) for 3-4 minutes, depending on how you like your vegetables (I cook for 3 minutes).
Wait for 5 minutes and release the pressure manually, and open the lid (which means QR after 5mins). . Stir in chopped spinach and sausage (if using). The heat from the soup will be enough to wilt the spinach and bring everything together. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!