Instant Pot Sauté Mode for Indian food

When I first bought the Instant Pot, it sat in it’s box for a few months before I actually was ready to open it. I know I am not alone in feeling like the Instant Pot is intimidating and welcoming it into the kitchen is one of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome. 

The sad part is, it took me another year before I made the time to experiment and make use of the sauté mode. Why I waited this long to use it, I don’t know! I was a pro at cooking using the pot in pot method since it was very similar to the traditional pressure cooker. But somehow, I was always hesitant to jeopardize my meal quality with any additional experimentation, especially as a first time parent where feeding myself was a challenge in itself. 

After experimenting with sauté mode a few times, I did find it to be quite useful. It really did save you from scrubbing an additional pot or two and more so, it saves you time! While my shaak/subji was cooking, so was my daal and rice. All in the same pot with NO babysitting! I was happily playing with my toddler or taking a nap (these blog entries don’t just get written on their own guys!).  

If you cook Indian food regularly, you know that almost every recipe requires some sort of basic sauté also known as a ‘vagaar’ in Gujarati or a ‘tadka’ in Hindi. This vagaar/tadka is generally done stove top after which you add your main ingredients like vegetables for a shaak/subji (aka a “curry”). With the Instant Pot, you can do the very same thing directly in the base of the pot and then continue cooking in either sauté mode or pressure cooking. Basically, you use the same recipes & technique you use for your Indian cooking in the Instant Pot, you just have to become familiar with the settings and cooking times. Hopefully, my quick guides will help summarize what modes and times to use on your Instant Pot, saving you the experimenting time. 

How to use the Instant Pot sauté mode – 

The sauté mode really helps when you want to do one pot meals. I use this often for Indian shaaks/subji’s, daals, pasta sauce, soups & veggies. Like I said, it was intimidating at first but now I love it! I just recently learned that you can ADJUST the setting to the sauté mode to LESS, NORMAL or MORE. This is key! Otherwise your oil will burn or your garlic, onions and chili will quickly go from brown to black, I may or may not be speaking from experience.

  1. Select SAUTE on your Instant Pot
  2. Select ADJUST and click until the red light is on LESS. You will see the red light move from LESS, NORMAL or MORE with each click. 
  3. Give the pot a minute to warm and burn off any water that may be in the pot
  4. Add in oil, once your oil is warm add the remaining of your sauté mode ingredients.
    1. For daals, shaaks/subji’s this when I add in rai/ jeeru, onion, garlic, chili, ginger etc (depending on what you’re making)
    2. For Pastas this is when I add in garlic, onion, green chili & some herbs & spices 
  5. Once your sauté ingredients are cooked per your preference you can select OFF to turn off SAUTE mode. 

That’s it your sautéing is done. You can now add in the rest of your ingredients to continue cooking. What will you be making next? 

Here is a quick guide to using the sauté mode along with the pot in pot method


How to cook using the Instant Pot saute mode & pot in pot method

What do you use the sauté mode for on your Instant Pot? Would love some new ideas! 

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