DO YOU REALLY NEED AN INSTANT POT (Electric Cooker) in an Indian Household?
Instant pots or electric pressure cookers have been another latest hype in the recent past. are they worth it? let’s demystify that in today’s Post. we’re going to talk about home automation using the instant pot itself. recently the instant pot or sometimes also called the electric pressure cooker has been making a lot of waves in the cooking arena. it was first introduced in the market in 2010 since then the sales of this have only gone up and in fact, it has been on the bestseller list or highest wish-listed products since 2016.
So what is so great about this in India?
It has been endorsed by a lot of celebrity chefs leaving people like you and me extremely confused on what’s the hype about this pressure cooker or instant pot itself. let’s take a look at that in today’s post. so what is so great about an instant pot?
Firstly an instant pot is only an electric pressure cooker that’s it. there’s no magic to it as manufacturers have been recently advertising about it. so now that we know that it’s only an electric pressure cooker. let’s compare that with a regular pressure cooker to see if it’s worth buying an instant pot in an Indian household. we’ll also compare it to the humble rice cooker which many houses in India also use.
So that we have an end-to-end comparison on where each of these stands and whether it is useful for us to buy it or not.
So first let’s talk about how much supervision is required when you’re using any of these products with an instant pot as well as a rice cooker. you can turn it on and forget about it so once the cooking is done it will turn off by itself and if you have left it too warm it will keep the food warm. On the other hand, in a pressure cooker you need to be monitoring it you need to make sure that once the necessary number of whistles are done. you will reduce the heat and then after a while, you will turn it off so there is some supervision required when you are using a pressure cooker compared to an instant pot or a rice cooker. it requires extremely minimal supervision.
The second thing is whether the food is kept warm in these products or not. so in an instant pot, you can keep the food warm for almost up to 10 hours. it is not recommended to keep it that long for certain food types like rice because it can go bad. similarly, in a rice cooker, you can keep it for over two hours but again there also it is not recommended to keep it in the cooker for too long because it can go bad in a regular cooker. it will stay hot as long as the pressure cooker stays hot but after that it there is no special mechanism to keep the food warm in a regular pressure cooker.
As we all know most instant pots have a yogurt setting you can ferment your milk to create yogurt in an instant pot. you can do the same thing in a rice cooker as well traditionally we do not do that in a pressure cooker. but if you actually do warm your pressure cooker for some time and keep the milk over there for fermentation it gives the same effect as a yogurt setting in an instant pot. but yes it is a lot more manual and trial and error than what it is in an instant pot.
One of the biggest reasons the instant pot has become such a big hit is because of the safety features of the instant pot. we have all heard horror stories about pressure cookers bursting when the safety wall is not functional that has been avoided with an instant pot. it has inbuilt mechanisms to cut off the pressure once it reaches a certain pressure point and with the rice cooker, there is no safety issue because it does not pressure cook your food in a rice cooker. so from a safety point of view, an instant pot is a lot safer than using a traditional pressure cooker.
The next thing is about how much space does it occupy? an instant pot, as well as a rice cooker, will need to be kept on your countertop it occupies about one foot by one-foot space based on the size that you do purchase. add that with other things you have on your countertop like the microwave or the mixer. it just adds a lot more clutter whereas with a pressure cooker once you’re done with the cooking you can just put it back inside.
now let’s talk about the cooking itself. so instant pots are good at slow cooking. typically slow cooking is used for cooking non-veg items also some vegetarian items but more of non-veg items. where you would want to cook the non-veg for a longer time to soak in all the spices themselves. Instant pots are a specialty for this type of cooking which cannot be done either with a pressure cooker or a rice cooker.
The next thing is about shallow fry or sauteing which we do for some vegetables like when we’re making a biryani or something you would shallow fry your vegetables before you add rice and add water to cook it in the pressure cooker. in an instant pot, the shallow frying is not great that is primarily because the vessel does not get heated as much as it could have done in a pressure cooker.
Type of Foods
Now let’s talk about the type of food that you can cook. in general, almost everything that you can cook in a pressure cooker you can cook in an instant pot as well. whereas in a rice cooker you can predominantly cook rice and steamed vegetables and so on. pulses are not cooked so well in a rice cooker. now coming to an instant pot the cooking of some beans like rajma are quite inconsistent because the pressure in an instant pot is much lower than the pressure in a pressure cooker. in an instant pot the pressure is about 12 psi and in a pressure cooker is about 15 psi which is ideal for cooking things like rajma and chana and so on. Yes, it can be done in an instant pot as well so there is some amount of trial and error that you will need to do for cooking beans specifically in an instant pot.
The next item is how much time does it take? now let’s assume that you are making chana masala in both an instant pot as well as a pressure cooker. in an instant pot, it will take about 18 minutes to cook. I’m not talking about all of the pre-cooking that you need to do for the vegetables and the masala but just for cooking the chana itself. once everything else has been prepared it takes about 18 minutes and then there is some amount of time for releasing the pressure from the instant pot. coming to a pressure cooker when you are doing the same thing you need about 10 to 12 minutes only that’s about 5 to 6 whistles for your channa to get completely cooked. then, of course, the cooling-off or releasing the pressure period is there for the pressure cooker as well. so the time is slightly lower in a pressure cooker compared to an instant pot but for some other dishes like rice dishes and so on I’m told that the instant pot cooks a lot faster than the pressure cooker. not comparing with a rice cooker primarily because you can mainly cook rice dishes in a rice cooker.
The last thing to compare is the price I’m using a three-liter capacity as a reference. so an instant pot at that capacity costs about Rs. 8500 thousand on online sites. a pressure cooker of three-liter capacity costs about Rs. 2300 or so and a rice cooker of 3-liter capacity costs about Rs. 2100.
so is it really useful to buy an instant pot? let’s talk about that right now. from my point of view it is useful only in three instances. one when you want to cook your food with minimal supervision or you want to set a timer so that the food is hot when you are eating it that is when you would need an instant pot. for example if you want your food to be hot when you’re coming back home from the office you may want to set the timer to let’s say 6 pm and by the time you’re back from office at around 7 pm the food would have been cooked and it would be hot.
if you were using a pressure cooker you would have to come back home and then turn it on and then wait for another one hour for your food to be cooked so that is one big benefit. the second big reason for using an instant pot is if you are concerned about the safety of a pressure cooker. in general, in most Indian households we are fairly comfortable using a pressure cooker so I believe that this is more of a concern typically in western countries where they are not so comfortable using a pressure cooker but if you have that concern then an instant pot might be useful for you. the third reason to buy an instant pot is if you want to slow cook your food especially non-veg food. I’m told that it does the job well if your other alternative is to use a dutch oven for your cooking then you might want to continue using that instead of using an instant pot. the other time an instant pot is extremely useful is when you’re traveling and you want to cook your meals while traveling. it’s extremely handy and you can cook a variety of dishes using that based on all of these considerations.
i would not purchase an instant pot mainly because I do not fit any of these three criteria that I mentioned. I don’t have consideration for having my food hot as soon as I come back from the office because I primarily work out of home secondly I don’t cook non-veg food in my house and thirdly I am fairly comfortable using a pressure cooker. so I will not purchase an instant pot but will you? drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts.
I am an MBA. I have worked on various projects about Indian home appliances and have knowledge of Indian household needs and requirements. I am here to share my knowledge and experience about appliances