It was cold and raw the first time I remember eating Indian food.

Sitting in a little restaurant in the Old Port during the New Year’s Portland 1999 celebration, my friends and I warmed ourselves over plates of naan, chana masala, palak paneer and other dishes I had never tried before. So when the weather recently turned cold and raw, I found myself thinking of spicy Indian dishes and reaching for Manali Singh’s first book, “Vegetarian Indian Cooking with your Instant Pot.”

The Instant Pot may have been the hot gift of the last holiday season, but it’s still in regular use in my kitchen. I use it most often when I’m prepping meals for the week on Sunday afternoons, having found that after a long day in the newsroom, popping dinner in the Instant Pot is a welcome time saver.

While the Instant Pot may still be a new kitchen tool for many Americans, pressure cookers are a staple in Indian kitchens, according to Singh. Singh – best known for her blog, Cooking with Manali – says she was hooked on her Instant Pot from the beginning, even joking with her husband that she couldn’t remember the last time she turned on her stove.

The cookbook includes 75 Instant Pot recipes, ranging from the basics she grew up eating in India to dishes you’ll find at your favorite Indian takeout place. The majority are vegan or can be made vegan with simple substitutions noted throughout the book. The colorful cookbook is divided into easy-to-navigate sections: favorite takeouts, lentils and beans, hearty meals, 30 minutes or less, snacks and sides, Indian street food, desserts and the basics of Indian cooking (including how to make paneer and ghee).

Singh, who moved to the United States in 2011, writes that her recipes are for “anyone who loves Indian food or wants to try cooking Indian food at home. Cooking Indian food is not as challenging as people assume it to be, and the Instant Pot makes it that much easier.”


If Singh’s goal is to make cooking Indian food less intimidating, she’s certainly accomplished that with this book. She includes descriptions of each recipes and instructions that are easy to understand and follow. Throughout the book, she writes about traditional Indian meals, the spices that make up the foundation of the cuisine and her own favorites.

On a rainy Saturday morning, I struggled to settle on a recipe from the book to try for dinner. The Khatti Meethi Gujarati Dal (sweet and sour lentils) sounded good, but so did the Sambar (south Indian lentil stew). Or did I want Palak Paneer or a Chana Masala? Sometimes choices are just hard.

In the end, I was drawn in by Singh’s description of Matar Mushroom as a dish even mushroom haters will love. We love mushrooms in my house, so it seemed like a good bet.

Though I use my Instant Pot weekly, this is the first recipe I’ve made that required most of the cooking to be done on the sauté setting. Despite that, the recipe came together easily and was satisfying on a cold fall evening.

Matar Mushroom (mushrooms and green peas in a creamy tomato sauce)

Serves: 2



3/4 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup milk, almond or regular

1/4 cup cashews

2 medium tomatoes

1 small red onion


3 cloves garlic

1/2-inch piece of ginger

1 tablespoon oil of choice

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala


1/4 teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder, optional

3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

2-3 cups white mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup water


1/2 teaspoon kasuri methi (fungreek leaves), crushed

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Soak the frozen peas in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain. Soak cashews in warm milk for 15 minutes. In a blender, pulse the tomatoes and the cashew-milk mixture into a puree. Scoop out the puree and set aside. Using the same blender, grind the onion, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste (you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water).

Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. When the pot displays hot, add the oil and then add the bay leaf. Sauté for a few seconds, and then add the prepared onion-garlic-ginger paste to the pot. Cook the paste for 3-4 minutes until the smell of onion disappears. Add the tomato-cashew paste, stir and cover the pot with a glass lid and cook 3 minutes. Add the coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder (if using) and salt. Mix to combine and cook the spices with the masala for another minute or so.

Stir in the sliced mushrooms and green peas and cook for 1 minute. Add the water, stir and close the pot with its lid. Press the manual or pressure-cook button, making sure the valve is in the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes, then release the pressure quickly. Unlock the lid, then add the crushed kasui methi and sugar and mix to combine. Enjoy with roti or naan.

Note from Singh: You can adjust the amount of water to your preference. I like more sauce in the matar mushroom and hence added 3/4 cup of water. For a thicker sauce, add 1/2 cup of water.

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