Instant Pot Kala Chana Curry.

One of the best things about having the instant pot is being able to boil dry cereals and legumes in a short period of time. No more setting aside a day to boil various legumes and pack them in the freezer for weeks or months, and woe unto you if you have no power for a day or so, and have to throw them out.

I have been trying out various recipes in the instant pot and I am happy with it. No instant pot? No worries. This simple chickpea curry can be made on the stovetop too.

Black chickpeas also known as “kala chana” are darker in colour and more meatier than the light coloured chickpeas, which makes them perfect for a filling vegetarian meal. They are rich in fibre, hence make you feel full for longer, and help prevent constipation. They are full of antioxidants, as well as folate and magnesium, low in fat and rich in iron among other benefits.

This simple dish can be had as a side or a main meal with rice or chapati along with a salad and other vegetables. Let’s get started.

Ingredients:-

  1. 1 1/2 cups soaked brown chickpeas
  2. I chopped onion
  3. 1 tbsp cooking oil
  4. 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  5. 1 chopped tomato and some tomato paste
  6. Spices: 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp dhana jeera powder and garam masala
  7. Salt and pepper
  8. Chopped coriander leaves and freshly squeezed lemon juice to garnish.

Method.

Switch on your instant pot and select the Sauté function.
Once hot, add a tbsp of cooking oil, followed by the bay leaf and a teaspoon of cumin seeds, then add onion when the seeds begin to sputter.
Let the onion cook then add the ginger garlic paste. Mix well and let cook a bit before adding the ground spices. Mix again and add a splash of water to deglaze the pot.
Add tomato paste and tomatoes. Let cook a while.
Add the drained chickpeas and mix well into the masala.
Check seasoning then add 2 cups of water. The chickpeas do not absorb that much water, so too much water will not do. Cover the pot and cancel sauté function.
Select the bean/ chilli program on the instant pot. I left the keep warm option on too. Let it cook and let the pressure release naturally when done. Do not rush it with a quick pressure release.

Once done, uncover the cooker and add your chopped coriander leaves, squeeze a half lemon over it and an additional little sprinkle of garam masala will not hurt. Let sit a bit then serve.

I had mine with rice and a slice of avocado on the side.
You can also have it with chapati.

This curry is perfect for weeknights when you do not want to spend too much time cooking. It is healthy, tasty and filling and you can serve with a salad or avocado slice for added nutrition and colour.

If making it on the stovetop just soak your chickpeas overnight, rinse, drain and boil them before making the curry.

Definitely worth a try, isn’t it?

My Kitchen Essentials.

As a person who loves cooking and food in general, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. If I am not making dinner, cooking tea or preparing a snack for the family, I am probably rearranging the cupboards, noting what I need to add or reading my cookbooks. Being away from home has made me realise what I really need in the kitchen and the home as a whole. I apply a rule before buying any new kitchen tools; do I really need it, will I use it, and what function is it making easier?

Image from Pixabay.

I will not list a lot of serve ware in this list, that is, plates, cups and glasses. Most of what we have were wedding gifts. Almost ten years later, I have not had to buy any crockery and glassware. I know it’s not fun opening boxes of glasses and plates after the wedding, but trust me, they have come in handy over the years and one can never have too many glasses or cutlery, right?

Below are some items I find essential in the kitchen, listed in no particular order:-

A few of my mwikos aka cooking sticks.
This silicone set is quite sturdy despite the look. They withstand high heat and do not absorb the smells of the food.
  1. Cooking sticks– These include what we call “mwikos”, that is, wooden cooking sticks. I have a couple of flat ones for ugali, and some for stews and for mixing when baking.
  2. Silicone spoon set -I had bought this in Nairobi some years ago. It has a slotted spoon, a pastry brush, turner, spatulas and ladle and some other serving spoons. It is a handy set that has served me well over time.
  3. Chopping boards – I believe every kitchen should have a minimum of four boards. One for meats (preferably wooden), one for vegetables, one for fruits and another extra one for any thing else. I had bought some silicon chopping mats from Carrefour some time ago that come in handy for extra chopping needs, such as fish, or herbs.
  4. Cooking tools– Other essential cooking tools I use are a potato masher, can opener, measuring cups and spoons, muffin tin, a whisk, baking pans both metal and glass, pyrex jug, tongs, slotted spoons, grater, funnel, different sizes strainers / Sieves; for tea and for flour, etc. Citrus presser, colander, stainless steel mixing bowls, plastic bowls, ice cream scoop, rolling pin, garlic press and a little handheld spiralizer and a vegetable peeler.
  5. Saucepans– This could be stainless steel, aluminium, or non stick. I have a nice non stick sauce pan set gifted by my sister that has come in handy here as I left most of my pans back home. I have no cast iron sets yet, but saving up for an awesome set. *Santa better note this down.*
  6. Pans– Everyone needs a couple of good quality frying pans. I have a nonstick Vinod pan as old as my son, and its great for most of my frying needs. But a small pan also comes in handy for those quick fried eggs. Add a flat chapati aka tawa pan and you’re set for awesome chapatis and naan. A double sided pan is also quite useful as it is great for a lot of dishes. You can grill your vegetables or meat in it, do a sauté, make potato wedges, fry sausages or a breakfast hash in it, stovetop baking (I have made pizza and plantain bread in mine), pancakes, among many others, and the best thing is you do not have to use a lot of oil when using it. I got mine in Nairobi from Armedeot Interiors. A lot of my kitchen items back home are from them.
  7. Linens – In terms of linens in the kitchen, aprons and napkins help a lot as well as cotton dishcloths. I divide this into three; for wiping dishes, for covering food and for my hands. A couple of them in each category are good enough to start with. And lots of smaller cloths for wiping the countertops. This will reduce your use of paper towels and serviettes. Oven mitts and pot holders fall under this category too.
  8. Serving dishes– Platters, hot pots (casserole dishes ), ceramics bowls, and salad bowls are also essential, as well as water jugs / pitchers.
  9. Knives are essential in the kitchen, and having a good quality set makes food prepping much easier. Basics are a paring knife that’s handy for peeling, a chef’s knife or two, a boning knife, a serrated bread knife, and a smaller knife for dicing. Kitchen shears are good to have too for preparing chicken and fish, and kitchen scissors also help in chopping up herbs quick or opening up packets of milk or broth.
  10. Appliances– I keep it basic here. A quality electric water kettle is top on my list, an old fashioned slice toaster, blender and grinder for spices, and an instant pot or pressure cooker. I love the instant pot because of its multiple functions; I mostly use it as a rice cooker or pressure cooker, but also learning continually what else I can cook in it. It is also much safer than the old fashioned pressure cookers.
  11. Mortars and pestles are a must in my kitchens. I know food processors make work much easier but I do not mind grinding up spices or herbs manually. Depending on your cooking needs, one or two may be enough. I, however have three. One for crushing my ginger and garlic, another specific one for grinding up my whole spices for masala tea and the other for less pungent pulsing, like nuts and herbs.
I am yet to try out all functions on my instant pot but I love how convenient it is. It is quite handy when boiling green maize or dry legumes and cereals and easy to use.

This list of essentials is by no means exhaustive. It is just a sample of what I have and use in the kitchen as a home cook. Over the years, I have found myself letting go of stuff I do not use.

I also don’t have many electrical appliances as much of my cooking does not require them. I rarely use the hand mixer or juicer. I used to long for a Kitchen aid mixer, a bread maker, a soup maker, a Vitamix Blender, on and on the list went, but if I’m being honest with myself, I would not use them that much and they would end up filling up space in the kitchen. Over time, I have come to learn how to pick what works for me in the kitchen.

Another essential appliance is a blender. Before you go out to buy one, decide on what you need. Most come with three essential attachments but recent models are fancier and pricier with more attachments which you may not need or use.

I did not see the need to include cookers and microwave in this list as these are quite subjective. However, I always urge people to first list down what your needs and cooking habits are, then read reviews online and even ask around before you decide on the brand and model to buy. It is easy to buy what is popular, but it may not be easy to use, easy to clean and may consume a lot of power.

Next post in this category, I will post my pantry/ Cupboard essentials. Keep it here, subscribe to the blog and don’t forget to share the posts as well as feedback.

What are your kitchen essentials?

Instant Pot Vegetable Biriani

As I have shared here before; there are many ways of making biriani.It is all about your tastebuds and the time you have to make it. The Instant Pot comes in handy in this, as you do not have to spend hours in the kitchen slaving over this dish. I have shared two biriani recipes here and by now y’all can tell I really love Indian rice dishes 🙂

This dish is so straightforward you can make it for weeknight supper, it is great for a meatless Monday meal as well as a tasty way to load up on those veggies.

You can use the vegetables you have on hand, just chop them into more or less equal sizes so they cook through and evenly.

Ingredients: 2 cups Rice, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, Whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, 1/2 a star anise, cardamon and black peppercorns), ground spices (1/4 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp ground Dhana jeera, 1/2 tsp paprika), Vegetables (a cup each of chopped sweet potato, carrots, green pepper, peas and French beans, Coriander and mint leaves, 2 sliced onions, salt to taste, 1 tbsp of raisins and cashew nuts (optional). 2 tbsp ghee for cooking. You can substitute the sweet potato with Irish potato.

Wash and soak your rice for 20 minutes. Then put instant pot on sauté mode.

Heat a bit of the ghee and roast the cashews till brown, add the raisins and let them puff a little then set aside.
I always struggle not to snack on them, hahaha.
Add your remaining ghee, add the whole spices, mix well then add the onions.

Add the ginger garlic paste and the ground spices.

Mix well to ensure they don’t burn.
Add your vegetables and the coriander and mint (you can reserve some for garnishing).Mix well.
Add a splash of water to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot otherwise the pot will indicate the food is burning.
Add the drained rice and two cups of water.

Do not stir once you add the water. Cover the instant pot, cancel sauté mode and set pressure mode on. Set it to cook for 6 minutes on high pressure. Once done, let it release pressure naturally for about 5 minutes then do a quick pressure release.

Doesn’t it look yummy?

The next step is purely optional but if you want the authentic biri feel, mix a little yellow food colour or saffron if you have in in a tsp of rose water.

Pour over the rice in a kinda cross shape.
Add the remaining mint and coriander leaves and the cashews and raisins after the rose water and cover the pot again, for a few minutes until ready to serve.
Fluff the rice gently before serving.
Serve with a cucumber and tomato raita.

I am enjoying using the Instant pot to make various dishes and was glad with how this turned out. Definitely worth a try!

Tasty and beautiful to look at!