An Ode to the Pressure Cooker

In an instant pot kind of world, it’s easy to forget the appliance — still loved by millions, even instant pot owners — that may have started it all.

Meghna Rao

October 14, 2019

An Ode to the Pressure Cooker
The instant pot stands on the tremendous shoulders of the pressure cooker (Suzanne Dias)

It’s difficult not to wax poetic about the instant pot, a giant, beeping, steel gizmo that has made its way onto the kitchen counters of countless home cooks. With a few deft strokes on the instant pot’s digital face and a 30-minute wait, a cook might end up with a steaming hot bowl of daal or a richly textured mushroom masala.

The device, which combines an electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, and yogurt maker, has become the muse for myriad South Asian chefs. It’s inspired Facebook communities with membership in the hundreds of thousands and instant pot recipe books from professional chefs — including diaspora sweetheart Madhur Jaffrey.

But the instant pot didn’t get there by itself — it stands on the tremendous shoulders of the pressure cooker. On Facebook group Instant Pot for Indian Food, 118 of 184 (64%) surveyed say that they still use a separate pressure cooker despite having an instant pot. Some cite tradition. Others cite better food quality, or the ability to pressure cook multiple items at once. Whatever the reason, the pressure cooker persists.