Book Review: With Vegan Richa's Instant Pot Cookbook You Can Make Amazing Indian Food

This new cookbook will take your pressure-cooker skills to another level.

Vegan Richa's Instant Pot Cookbook cover

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Title: "Vegan Richa's Instant Pot Cookbook: 150 Plant-Based Recipes From Indian Cuisine and Beyond"

Author: Richa Hingle

Topics: Indian & South Asian cooking, Instant Pot, vegan cuisine

Publisher: Hachette Go

Publish Date: May 2022

Page Count: 384

I have always loved my Instant Pot, ever since I brought it home five years ago. It has become a stalwart kitchen helper, cooking batches of beans, stock, and chili in a matter of minutes. It's now hard to imagine not having a device that I can "set and forget" on busy weeknights.

My only complaint, however, is that most main dishes made in the Instant Pot taste very similar. Perhaps it's not the taste so much as the texture, where it all melds into a similar pressure-cooked mush of sorts, albeit delicious and nutritious. To be blunt, it's food that I'm happy to give to my family, but I wouldn't serve it to guests.

But not so anymore. I've discovered that the Instant Pot, given the right recipes and expert techniques, can produce meals worthy of the finest dinner parties. And it's thanks to Richa Hingle, an experienced recipe developer and cookbook author who has just published yet another cookbook called "Vegan Richa's Instant Pot Cookbook: 150 Plant-Based Recipes From Indian Cuisine and Beyond" (Hachette Go, 2022). 

This cookbook—which I received as an advance copy from the publisher and have had the pleasure of using over recent weeks—is jam-packed with a diverse range of recipes. Half are authentic Indian recipes that a press release described as "going beyond curry powder and coconut milk." The other half are non-Indian and range from Quick Lasagna to Mushroom Gyro to Mason Jar Pancakes.

The Indian recipes attracted me the most, as I love Indian food and am constantly striving to improve my skills and knowledge. Interestingly, many of Vegan Richa's recipes rely on large batches of sauces that can be made in the Instant Pot in advance and then used as needed. The Large-Batch Butter Chicken Sauce, the Large-Batch Cashew Cream (dairy substitute), Tikka Masala Sauce, Balti Sauce, and the Bhuna Masala Sauce (roasted curry sauce) are all excellent bases for mouthwatering recipes that come together in minutes on a busy weeknight. Similarly, the Baked Tofu Paneer can be paired with any number of sauces (whatever you have in the freezer!) for a quick main.

Vegan Richa, inside view of cookbook

K Martinko

Vegan Richa's recipe for Butter Chicken Sauce paired with the Baked Tofu was heavenly—and I've tried many versions, vegan and not, over the years. I couldn't stop scooping it out of the pot, even as I was getting ready to serve my hungry kids. They loved it, too.

The non-Indian recipes reveal some clever techniques, such as pot-in-pot and layering to cook slightly more complex or multiple dishes at the same time in an Instant Pot. Vegan Richa explains how using pots and trivets can allow certain ingredients to cook at different speeds, or for only part of the time that other ingredients are cooking.

In some cases it seems like extra work to juggle the quirks of a pressure cooker for simple recipes such as Buffalo Sauce Tempeh & Spanish Rice Wraps or Crunch Wrap with Jackfruit & Vegan Queso. But then again, there's significant value in not having to monitor a pot on the stove or cook over a hot element on a hot day. And for anyone with restricted access to a stove or oven, an Instant Pot changes everything.

mushroom gyro
Mushroom gyro.

Richa Hingle

As Vegan Richa proves, you can even bake in it, turning out decadent moist cakes that have been steamed rather than dried in an oven. She writes, "As you'll discover, if the vent stays open, the water that is boiling underneath will continue to steam the cake. This helps the cake rise and also adds a lot more moisture." My mouth is already watering at the thought.

Whether you're vegan or not, if you own an Instant Pot this is a cookbook worth ordering. Since getting my copy, I've used it multiple times a week because everything is just so easy and delicious. On those nights when I need to get dinner on the table fast, I know there'll be something I can whip up with ingredients in my pantry and fridge—and that, to me, is the sign of a good cookbook.

"Vegan Richa's Instant Pot Cookbook: 150 Plant-Based Recipes From Indian Cuisine and Beyond" hits bookshelves in May 2022. Available at bookshop.org and at local retailers.