Authentic Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot — with Vasanti Bhadkamkar-Balan
In Episode 44 of the Kitchen Confidante Podcast, Liren talks to Vasanti Bhadkamkar-Balan of Signature Concoctions about her family and childhood in India, the inspiration behind her cookbook, Authentic Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot, her love for the Instant Pot, and more!
Authentic Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot — with Vasanti Bhadkamkar-Balan of Signature Concoctions
On the podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Vasanti Bhadkamkar-Balan, author of the food blog Signature Concoctions. With roots in India, Vasanti now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. By day, she works in business intelligence and analysis while balancing her work on Signature Concoctions as a cooking instructor and cookbook author on the side. Her first book, Authentic Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot, was published earlier this year.
In this episode, Vasanti shares about her childhood in India and how her love of the Instant Pot came about! Listen to the full episode or keep reading for some of my favorite moments with Vasanti.
Tell us more about your journey to cooking
I was actually not drawn to cooking until later in life. The first thing I remember cooking was when I was 18. My aunt taught me how to cook her rustic chicken curry recipe in her kitchen. It was a recipe I’d always loved, and it was something my family would never cook in my mom’s
Growing up, my mother did not allow us to cook non-vegetarian food at home, even though we ate non-vegetarian all the time. In India, meats like beef and pork are typically not eaten. Instead, we ate a lot of chicken, goat meat, fish, and seafood — but only outside our home. My dad was a real foodie, and he provided many opportunities for us to eat non-vegetarian. My husband is also a big carnivore. Therefore, this interesting relationship and curiosity about traditional Indian and meat recipes piqued my interest in cooking.
I also grew up in a fun, multi-generational, joint family household. Surrounded by a large extended family, every holiday and little celebration centered around food, creating my love for our traditional family recipes.
Tell us more about your cookbook and your love for the Instant Pot
Writing the book, I thought a lot about those family recipes. I wanted to relive those moments and recreate those flavors I remember from spending time with my family and growing up in India.
Old school pressure cookers are the most beloved kitchen gadgets in India. When I moved to the U.S., I actually packed my pressure cooker in my luggage—and I know almost every one of my friends did too when they moved!
I learned to cook all the basics like rice, lentils, and dal using my pressure cooker, and used it literally every day. I still have it, but now I just use the Instant Pot because it is much more convenient!
One of my favorite ways to use the Instant Pot is the “pot in pot” method to cook meals with rice. Using the pot trivet, I make curry in the bottom pot while making rice or other grains on top. This method lets you cook everything at once.
I also love that you can bake cakes in the Instant Pot. At first, I was skeptical—but cakes turn out super moist, fluffy, spongey, and even brown! The cake comes out perfectly every time.
Authentic Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot: Classic and Innovative Recipes for the Home Cook, by Vasanti Bhadkamkar-Balan (Page Street Publishing, 2022).