Friday, April 15, 2011

Pressure Cooker Risotto

My sister is flying in for a vacation from Bangalore, India in just three weeks and I am giddy with excitement. My head is spinning with mental lists of all the things I want to cook for her and all the places I want to take her- we will be meeting after 5 whole years. By the way, for those familiar with food stores in Bangalore, are there any foodie must-haves I should request her to bring along? She's been asking me if I would like anything from Bangalore and my favorite gifts are always of the food variety.

In preparation for her visit, I am eating down the pantry so I can restock it properly. I especially want to finish off the ingredients that I think of as "winter" ones and also use up obscure ingredients that are taking up precious pantry space. Yesterday, I found a package of arborio rice with a little over a cup of rice in it. I also found some nutritional yeast, an impulse purchase that I never got around to using. Pairing these pantry finds with some butternut squash and inspired by this recipe for pressure cooker risotto, I was able to make a creamy and comforting one dish meal in about 10 minutes of active cooking time. The nutritional yeast adds a complex cheesy flavor (perfect because I had no parmesan cheese on hand) and this dish happens to be vegan.

Around this time last year, I visited my friend Cathy in Maryland and she cooked me dinner after fabulous dinner. One evening she made a delicate butternut squash risotto perfumed with fresh ginger and garlic. With that taste memory resurfacing, I added fresh ginger and garlic to this dish with wonderful results.

Butternut Squash Risotto in the Pressure Cooker
(Adapted from this recipe, serves 3-4)
  1. Heat the pressure cooker with 2 to 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  2. Add 1 medium minced onion and 1 tbsp. each minced fresh ginger and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are fragrant and translucent.
  3. Add 1 cup (I had a little over 1 cup) arborio rice and toast it for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add 2 to 3 cups butternut squash, cut in small cubes. Stir in 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 3 cups vegetable stock, salt (only if needed) and pepper to taste. 
  5. Snap on the lid and pressure cook. Garnish with fresh herbs if you have some on hand.
This hands-off risotto is just as good as the one made with the stir-until-your-arms-fall-off variety. It might have been a tad overcooked mostly because my pressure cooker is sometimes too efficient for its own good. Next time, I'll rush to shut off the heat at the hint of the first whistle.

We filled up on creamy risotto and then went off to see the opening night of a hilarious musical put up by a talented group of medical school students. This week it feels like all the fun of Spring and Summer is finally kicking off.

* * *
The National Food Blogger Bake Sale is scheduled a few weeks from now, on May 14th 2011. With every brownie and lemon bar and slice of pie, this bake sale seeks to raise awareness and funds to end childhood hunger in the US. If you are interested in baking for this event, or just want to go snag a few treats for yourself, check this list to see if there are bake sales planned in your state and city.

Stef of the Cupcake Project is one of the hosts of the St. Louis edition of the bake sale. If you are in St. Louis, check her post to see how you can participate. I am planning to bake a couple of items- both with an Indian touch. More on that later. 

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. looks so perfect. Have a blast with your Sis.

  2. Hi Nupur! I LOVE this dish--and I am sure you know why--vegan and pressure cooker: two of my favorite things! Plus, that nutritional yeast is this girl's best friend. (Cheesy flavor galore!) Thanks so much for sharing and enjoy this rainy St. Louis day!

  3. Hi,

    Love your interesting blog. Have fun planning for your sister's visit. One thing I always ask from Karnataka in for byadgi mirchis or the mirchi powder. It does not have a lot of heat and adds a very good color to dishes. Thanks so much for the wonderful posts and recipes.


  4. Risotto looks perfect. Enjoy ur time with your sister. Have a good weekend.

  5. From bangalore, may be you can ask for MTR's pulihogare mix? Its a life-saver to make quick pulihogare rice - esp packed lunches. The badam milk mix and bhisibele bhat powder are also good.

  6. Never worked with risotto or nutritional yeast. I should get my hands on these very soon :)
    Have fun !!

  7. I love Risotto! Especially with butternut squash! I have visited Bangalore a couple of times, and they have awesome bakeries in town :) Unfortunately, I can't think of an area or a specific store. Sorry!

  8. Using pressure cooker is such a time saver. The dish looks great!

    Have fun with your sister...I can totally relate to your excitement as I get to visit my sister once in 6 months if I'm lucky...5 yrs is way too long. Looking fwd to ur special recipes for her!

  9. Please ask her to go to Subbamma's at Gandhi Bazaar and buy everything :D

    Ask me for more details if she can do it.

  10. So nice! I love risottos and such a time saver as well....Ask for Nipattu!

  11. Never thought about making risotto with a pressure cooker. Now I have a craving for risotto but I am thinking if I should make a bis bhela baath risotto. Spices and creamy rice...yum!
    Oh hey maybe your sis should bring some authentic bisi bhela masala from B'lore?

  12. Never thought of making risotto in pressure cooker,cant wait to try..Have a wonderful time with ur sis..

  13. One of the reasons I love your blog is that you don't apologize for short-cuts. Fantastic recipe!

    My Bangalore thing is Bolst's brinjal pickle. I credit it with converting me to eggplant after twenty-odd years of hatred, and it is really quite special. If sisterly love extends as far as carrying a bottle guaranteed to leak its oily insides, I urge you to consider it.

  14. Never had this.. But yours is really tempting...

  15. oh- this post is pushing me to make risotto in my rice cooker!

    Have fun with you sister- 5 years is looong! One thing from Bangalore?- hmm..since bringing the benne masala dosas is not an option, I think maybe marathi moggu - a spice that is used in bisi bele bath might be a good option? (I've never personally used it but have heard about it)

  16. You can get awesome stuff from Subbammana angadi in Gandhi Bazaar. You can ask her to get kaayi obbattu. Also the baked khaara nipattu in the Blore bakeries are very famous. Maybe a trip to VB bakeries will help her decide :)

  17. Hi Nupur,
    Tell her to get snacks from Subbamma stores in Basavangudi. slurrrrrpp...yummy. It's one of the best and she can bring all items from there. Excellent place for food lovers :-)


  18. Krishna sweets mysore pak, anything from the Iyengar bakeries, coffee from Suma coffee (if you like filter coffee).....

  19. What fun! Reunions with family are always the best!

    Ask her to get you tirphal or teppal, if you have never cooked with it. It's the Indian cousin of the Sichuan pepper.

  20. You can ask your sis to get Iyengar's 'baked nipattu'. It's a must from Bangalore. I would also highly recommend Anand Sweets's (Commercial str) Kalakand and Mysore Paak (besan). I am not sure though, how long Kalakand would last.

    I second Snehal suggestion on MTR's Pulihogare Masala and Bisibale Bhaat Masala.

    Enjoy your time with your sister.

  21. Radhika- Thanks!

    Kelly- I loved nutritional yeast in this dish, I should use it more!

    Lakshmi- Byadgi mirchis is a great idea- thank you so much!

    Pavani- I hope you have a wonderful weekend too :)

    snehal- I love MTR products, and yes, their bisi bele bhat powder is awesome. But the badam milk sounds great, thanks for the idea.

    harini-jaya- Thanks!

    Sharan- I agree, butternut squash results in delightfully sweet and creamy risotto.

    snehal- Thanks! I'm glad you get to see your sister more often than I do!

    Nandini- Thanks for the tip, I'll see if she lives close enough to visit that store.

    Preeti- Thanks, will request some nipattu :)

    Sangeetha- Oh yes Indian risotto would be a fabulous thing! I have a bottle of bisi bele powder in stock (MTR brand) so I probably should not be greedy and ask for me until I use this up!

    Priya- It is so much easier in the pressure cooker than stirring and stirring :)

    Niranjana- I embrace short cuts especially if they save fuel and time in the bargain! I'll have to bully sis into getting this brinjal pickle, I have nothing but mad love for brinjals but have never eaten them in pickle form. Thanks for the idea!

    Nitha- Thanks.

    Lavanya- Oh yes, the rice cooker would be another quick way to make risotto.

    Anon- Ooh I have never heard of kaayi obbattu but it sounds yummy :) Thanks!

    Mina- You are making me want to run to this Subbamma stores myself. Thanks for the tip.

    Anon- Thanks for the tip about Krishna sweets.

    Manisha- Luckily, I have some tirphal on hand, it was a sweet gift from Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes :)

    Smita- Thanks for sharing those great tips!

  22. Sounds wonderful! My son brought me saffron from India a few years's by far the best I've ever had. I keep it in the freezer and take some out as needed.

  23. Ask her to get you some fabulous yarn from Silk Indian. It's not food-related, as you requested, but I had to pipe in.

  24. Here's my two cents worth regarding what to get from B'lore. Some of the other readers have also suggested the same:
    (1) Kayi Obbattu (like puranpoli but with coconut filling),
    (2) Baked Nippattu (very addictive),
    (3) Congress Senga (fried masala peanuts)
    (4) If you really like sweet sweets then Mysore Pak and Shahi Kalakand from Anand Sweets are to die for!

    Enjoy your goodies, and of course, sister's visit :-)

  25. Lovely risotto. I love the idea of making it in a pressure cooker. From Bangalore, maybe fresh coffee powder? It's AWESOME. And yes, puliyogare mix and dry snacks too. Murukku, banana chips. If you have a shoe fetish, you SHOULD ask your sister to get you all kinds of funky footwear from Commercial Street.

  26. My sister is coming to visit as well os I understand your excitement. Iàm lucky however, weàve never been that long apart! I always make risotto with a pressure cooker, and have learned to keep it undercooked and finish it off the traditional way to avoid risks. It is still very fast.

  27. Get some sweets from Maiyyas in Jayanagar! I especially liked their Pheni and Chiroti! Now my mouth is watering...

  28. from bangalore - whole kairi pickle (Sona Pickles). Sona Pickles also have something called appe midi pickle - a variety of kachha kairi which has a tang and a crisp bite of its own. any mangalore store would have this. there is also the famed 2 in 1 papad from Sona again.... 1/2 of it is the red chilly papad and the other half is yr regular papad. and yes the coconut stuffed puranpoli - kaiye holige is yum as is the nippat.

  29. It is always so nice when you have close family visiting! Enjoy this wonderful time with your sister, I can sense the excitement and happiness in your post!!!

  30. well get some ayurvedic digestive ones.. i can't remember the name,but they tastes very good sweet and sour.

    I found it inside jayanagar market.

    didn't find such great tasting ones anywhere. U can get them out side ,but not up to mark.

    try it!

  31. Nupur,
    Herculean task for your sis if she has to carry as per your dream list of goodies from India.

    Hope she has already bargained with the airline for extra baggage allowance.

    Have a memorable stay with your sis.


  32. Nupur...

    I see my sister almost every 2 weeks... and i get excited... i plan out meal so we can spend more quality time together... I am so excited for you... Ejoy your time with her... 5 years is a long time. And Risotto looks deliciou!

  33. For stuff from Bengaluru, I second the recommendations for kaayi obattu (coconut pooran poli) and nippattu. As well as Congress and communist peanuts (Basically split and whole masala peanuts - but very uniquely bangalore, and superb!) I would also add a request for Halasina Happalaa (Jackfruit papad) - superb stuff, and cooks up really well in the microwave at low power, no frying required!!
    I think Badam mix/Badam milk powder is a waste of space because it is mostly sugar, with a little bit of almond powder and cardamom/saffron flavoring. Easy enough to make yourself. If you grew up anywhere north of the Vindhyas - most sweets from most sweet shops in Bangalore (Anand included)are toooooo cloyingly sweet. There's a huge sugar fetish in that town, and not so much of the nuts/khoya goodness. (I know I'm going to get thrashed on this comment :) )
    If you like agarbattis, Bangalore is a good place to pick up some nice sandalwood ones.

    Pressure cooker risotto is an awesome idea...I can imagine that this is supremely comforting

  34. Hope you and your family are doing okay during the storm.

  35. Nupur, just saw your latest. If I am not too late, my suggestions from B'lore would be;
    Kodbale(tiny ones and usual ones)
    Mysorepak(from Krishna sweets)
    Chutney powder(goes well with just abt anything)
    Coconut Burfi made out of jaggery

    Just a quick list, hope I am not too late.

  36. LibbyD- Oh yes, saffron is quite an exquisite spice.

    Neha- That's a great idea!! I will save this request for another time though because right now I have too much yarn waiting to be used up.

    Manju- Excellent idea, thanks for sharing them, I love masala peanuts especially.

    Anon- I am simply in love with fresh murukku and banana chips! And no, I have no interest in funky shoes though :) Thanks for chiming in.

    lacaffetierarosa- That's a great idea, to par cook in the pressure cooker.

    Archana- Thanks! It has been a decade since I tasted melt in the mouth chiroti I think.

    Anonymous- Excellent tips, I am dying to taste those papads and pickles now!

    namita- You guessed it :) And now I am panicking because I have a super long list of things to do before she gets here and days are flying by!

    newbie- Do you mean the little digestive "golis" (round little tablets)?

    Bageshri- Even if she gets one or two things for me to try, I will be super thrilled! I certainly don't expect her to shop for all these goodies :)

    Meghna- Thanks!

    Sacredfig- So you are back with a fresh identity? :) Funny you mentioned agarbattis because that's exactly what I asked her to get for a friend of mine.
    Thanks for the superb ideas!

    Inji- Thanks for thinking of us- yes, we escaped narrowly. Areas near us are badly hit.

    sheela- Ooh I love those little kodbale. Thanks for your suggestions!

  37. Hey Nupur, glad you saw my message. I love small Kodbales, it tastes so delish:)
    Have a nice time with your sis!

  38. Nupur - If I am not too late, I suggest the following:
    - BBB which is Bisi Bele Bath powder from traditional Hayvite Brahmin stores which are home made
    - Kayi Holige
    - Curios and Knick knacks from Kaveri emporium
    - Organic soaps, oils and incense from Bombay store
    - Nipattu which are out of world from Mangalore stores
    - Churmuri masala from Mangalore store which makes the perfect Churmuri Konkani style
    - Ragi malt powder if you like Ragi based hot milk based drink
    I just got carried away. Sorry about the long list. :) :)

  39. This risotto looks delicious! Looks like I need to go find myself a good pressure cooker! We'll have zucchini growing in our garden this year. I might try subbing that in for the butternut squash. What fresh herbs did you add in?
    ~Nancy Lewis~

  40. Hey,

    I am from Bangalore and every summer my dad visits me here in Toronto. The one thing he always brings for my family is 'mysore pak'. Its a sweet and he buys the Nandini brand. Although people will vouch that Nandini is not the best you get but atleast it is packed well enough not to leak any of its abundant ghee! Now I can't wait for my dad to get here in July! :)


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