COOKING IN AN INSTANT
Chef Mokgadi Itsweng, owner of Ujuspice Food Company and food activist , felt the pressure when it came to testing a new kitchen appliance
Iwas both excited to try out a new Instant Pot Duo Crisp — and terrified because of my fear of the old-style of pressure cooker, about which there are legendary tales of exploding pots, with the contents being spewed all over the kitchen walls and ceiling. It took me a day or two to unwrap this brand-new version — that I was soon to discover was way more than a pressure cooker — and I have to admit after “playing” with it in the kitchen that I’ve discovered I can’t live without my new favourite kitchen helper.
I started with a simple oxtail stew I used to cook for hours on the stove top. After only an hour in the new Instant Pot, the oxtail was deliciously tender and falling off the bone. As someone who enjoys pulses and grains, with this gadget my favourite traditional recipes can be made without any pre-soaking and hours of cooking. I’ve discovered it’s such a time saver without compromising on flavour.
The beauty of this appliance is that it comes with two lids, so beyond pressure cooking,
with a different lid, it becomes an air fryer. With the pressure lid I discovered one can sauté ingredients on a high heat, or get all chefy and sous vide — where ingredients are sealed in a plastic bag and simmered very gently in water — so easily in the Instant Pot, achieving that ultimate flavour and tenderness this method offers. Whereas by merely opting to change a lid the Instant Pot becomes an air fryer — my cabbage crisps are now famous, they are that good – I can also bake, grill, roast and even dehydrate ingredients.
The ultimate test was making my favourite sorghum and beans recipe, “dikgobe”, in the Instant Pot. I can do it in half the time, prepared in the usual way, with way less effort. Using the air fryer has been such a revelation. I can fry my favourite foods like my veggie fritters in half the oil, and they come out crispy and delicious.
Yes, I give it full marks for convenience,
safety and innovation. And the proof of the pudding is the trio of recipes below, which I make over and over again using the different features of the Instant Pot.
These cabbage chips are the most delicious answer to food waste. Most people would throw away the large outer cabbage leaves, but I turn them into these amazing chips. You can choose to make them spicy by adding cayenne pepper to the chips, but you can omit the pepper if you want them plain yet still delicious.
4-6 large outer cabbage leaves, rinsed and dried
20ml (4 tsp) olive oil
5ml (1 tsp) each of salt and pepper
5ml (1 tsp) cayenne pepper, optional
5ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika
1 Working one leaf at a time, remove the thick middle rib of the cabbage leaf and set it aside to be used in stews or sliced raw in salads.
2 Cut the leaf in half, and each half into 3 pieces. Each leaf should give you 6 large pieces. Ensure the pieces are large as they shrink on cooking. 3 Place the sliced cabbage pieces in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and toss to mix. Combine the spices and spoon over the cabbage pieces.
4 Place the air fryer basket inside the Instant Pot’s inner pot. Place half the leaves inside the bottom of the basket, making sure not to overcrowd them, then add the grill tray.
5 Place the remaining leaves over the grill tray. Close with the air fryer lid. Press 220°C temperature setting with 5 minutes on the timer, then press start. The fries will be crispy and ready after 5 minutes. 6 Open the air fryer, plate the cabbage chips and serve.
DIKGOBE WITH MUSHROOMS
My favourite comfort food ever. The combination of creamy ditloo with sorghum grain is a serious party in the mouth. The mushrooms make this dish a complete, filling and healthy plant-forward dish that can be enjoyed as a main or a side.
15ml (1 tbsp) oil
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
A handful fresh thyme
500ml (2 cups) sorghum grain, soaked in water
250ml (1 cup) ditloo (bambara nuts), soaked in water
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
A drizzle of olive oil
A handful of fresh herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Pickled onions, optional
1 Switch on the Instant Pot and press sauté, then press start. 2 Heat oil in the pot, then sauté the mushrooms for 3 minutes, making sure not to crowd them. You want them to be crisp and browned, not stewed. Remove from the pot and set aside. 3 Fry the onion, garlic and thyme together, until the onion is soft, in the same oil as the mushrooms in the Instant Pot. 4 Drain the sorghum, then stir-fry in the onion mixture. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the soaked ditloo and the stock. Close the pressure cooker lid. Set the timer to 40 minutes. 5 When the time is up, release the steam and allow the pot to switch off completely. Open the pot and drizzle over some olive oil and fresh herbs, and season with salt and pepper. 6 Spoon dikgobe onto a platter and top with cooked mushrooms and pickled onions, if using, and serve.
Super easy to make and perfect for Easter entertaining.
Butter for greasing the cups 15ml (1 tbsp) caster sugar 4 large eggs, separated 180g Caramel Treat
1 Grease the inside of 6 teacups or ramekins. Add 2.5ml (½ tsp) of caster sugar to each and shake it around until the insides are coated. Set aside. 2 In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and the Caramel Treat together until creamed and pale. 3 In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and form into peaks. 4 Fold the egg whites into the caramel egg mixture, making sure not to overmix. Spoon into prepared cups or ramekins. 5 Place them inside the Instant Pot basket, close the air fryer lid and set to bake at 200°C for 8 minutes. Press start.
6 Once the Instant Pot switches off, remove the puddings from the pot and serve immediately.