When it comes to rice, I am old school. I cook my rice the old fashioned way: 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water, cook in a pot for 50 minutes. In the old days, I’d put veggies on top the of rice at 40 minutes to steam the veggies for 10 minutes. Then I’d have rice and veggies for dinner. But that was before I got married.
Then I got married, showed my wife what I was doing (in the hopes she’d do that, too), and then she promptly bought a rice cooker, instead. So she’d cook it in bulk and I’d nuke it in small portions for work or for dinner at home. But the rice cooker was getting old and I’m no fan of non-stick coatings. So when this Instant Pot came on sale at Costco, I had to check it out. Pictured below is the Instant Pot Nova Plus 60, 6-quart capacity. I got it at Costco on sale a few weeks ago for $75.
As you can there is plenty of room inside for most family meals:
The first thing that caught my eye was stainless steel. I’m a big, big fan of stainless steel. I didn’t know anything about the Instant Pot, but after we bought it, I did some research, saw a nice sample of recipes (channa masala, is that you calling me?), and saw how simple it was to manage, I got into it.
After reading the instructions, I set up my first small batch of rice. With a ratio of 1:1.25, I started my first batch of rice with two cups of brown rice. I was impressed that just following the instructions I got perfect rice on my first batch.
I was excited to see how easy it was to clean and to manage when done with cooking. Nothing stuck to the pot. Nothing was burnt. It was amazingly easy to clean.
The Instant Pot can be many things, but to me, it’s just a rice cooker. Brown rice is my staple food and I just mix that up with anything. Spicy bean burgers, a little chicken here and there, veggies, or just plain with some tamari and red pepper. At one point in my life (well, ten years of my life), I ate brown rice and veggies every day.
So here is a sample run with 4 cups of rice, 5 cups of water, starting in the morning:
7:53 — Started cooking
8:11 — Preheat complete
8:32 — Cooking done
14 minutes on keep warm because I forgot to turn it off
8:47 — Natural pressure relief
9:18 — Natural pressure relief complete
Note that natural pressure relief is optional as you can manually release the pressure in a few minutes. The entire process of cooking, sans pressure relief was close to one hour, or in this case, about 54 minutes.
Now that is not exactly instant, but considering how much mental effort was relieved by using the Instant Pot, I found the the purchase to be well worth it.
For one, with the Instant Pot, I am using stainless steel. I don’t trust non-stick coatings and have read numerous articles on PTFE and its harmful effects on health. I don’t trust aluminum either. I consider aluminum to be more reactive than stainless or just plain cast iron. I love cast iron because that is what I grew up with. I also love cast iron because it is very stable. So I will go with stainless for now.
The second reason I like the Instant Pot is that it’s somewhat intelligent. It remembers what I did last time. It is self-regulating for pre-heat, cooking and keep-warm.
I like the simplicity of use, how it snaps together with a twist how easy it is to clean, and how simple it is to tear down when done. I can see this as my rice cooker for the next ten years.
I was also impressed with the recipes that have already been developed. And that list of recipes ready to use for your favorite dishes continues to grow. The Instant Pot seems to be very flexible and adaptable for many dishes. And I am planning on making use of that capacity. I have a 6-quart system, so there is plenty of room to grow with it.
After cooking a few batches of short grain brown rice (Lundberg Organic Brown Rice), I learned that there is a school of thought that says 1:1 is best, so I tried that. What I found is that with a 1:1 ratio, the rice tended to dry out and harden in refrigerated storage, so I went back to 1:1.25 and that kept it moist in cool storage.
Chana masala was one of my first loves with Indian food., so my next meal I want to try to cook with the Instant Pot is chana masala. I want to nail that flavor that I taste in my favorite Indian restaurants, so I am using a recipe that actually uses garam masala as an ingredient.
I found the Instant Pot to be not so much quicker than cooking rice on a stove, but with half the mental effort to cook it. I also found that the Instant Pot cooks rice far more consistently than the other methods I’ve used. And finally, stainless steel is a huge plus, for both food safety and long term wear. I would recommend an Instant Pot to almost anyone who just wants to cook rice, and the toppings for use later.
The Instant Pot was money well spent, and I’ve only scratched the surface of its capacities.