Saturday, April 23, 2022

Potato-Cauliflower Masala Dosa Filling, and other Instant Pot Subzis

One of the cornerstones of Indian home cooking is a simple stir-fried vegetable preparation commonly known as subzi (Hindi) or the bhaaji (Marathi). It can be made with one vegetable, or a duo (aloo gobi, or potato cauliflower is a classic example) or a medley. Far from being a side dish, it is the center of the everyday lunch or dinner plate, to be rolled up in a roti, or eaten with dal-rice or yogurt-rice. I love stuffing leftover subzis into a sandwich or a quesadilla. 

My sister gave me an Instant Pot for my birthday nearly 3 years ago and I quickly embraced it as the workhorse of my kitchen. Among its many uses, I find that the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker of this sort) makes excellent subzis- in minutes, with very little supervision, and with the vegetables cooked until just tender. 

The general method is simple:

1. On saute mode, heat a bit of oil and add spices (some combo of mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, one of the masala mixes like goda masala or kitchen king masala) and aromatics (some combo of ginger, garlic, onion, curry leaves) for tempering and flavor.

2. Add diced veggies and just a bit of water. I generally use fresh veggies but some frozen veggies like green beans work well.

3. Turn off saute mode and pressure cook on HIGH- 3 minutes seems to be my magic number for veggies that are tender but not mushy.

4. Release pressure immediately.

Cabbage subzi made with the 
general method above

Frozen green beans subzi

A few days ago, I made a filling for masala dosas very quickly in the Instant Pot following this same method. It is the typical potato masala, only I reduced the amount of potato and added some cauliflower. Typical dosa filling, to me, has a nice tempering, with aromatic curry leaves and mustard seeds, and crunchy chana dal and urad dal. And the other hallmark is plentiful onions, cut thinly lengthwise. 

Potato-Cauliflower Masala

  • 1 medium onion, sliced finely lengthwise
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and cut in small dice
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut in small dice

Turn Instant Pot to saute mode. Heat 1-2 tsp. oil and temper it with mustard seeds, asafetida, curry leaves, ural dal and chana dal

Add onions, turmeric, salt, small dab of ginger garlic paste, either finely minced green chillies or red chili powder (your choice, for heat), and coriander cumin powder. Saute for a couple of minutes until onions are translucent. 

Turn off saute mode. Stir in diced potato and cauliflower and 1/4 cup water. 

Pressure cook on HIGH for 3 minutes. Release pressure immediately. 

Because the veggies are cut in small dice, they will be very tender. Mash the veggies roughly. Let cool and use as dosa filling.

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Dosa and dosa-related recipes make a frequent appearance on One Hot Stove


  1. I am always looking for more ways to use my Instant Pot, so thank you for that! I have a older model - 6 quart duo. So I am wondering if I need to adjust the time. What model do you use?

    1. I have a 6 quart duo plus purchased 3 years ago, so likely very similar to yours. But I find that some experimentation is usually needed to land on IP times. Good luck!

  2. I have resisted buying an Instant Pot because I don't want to add another gadget to my kitchen, but I must confess I am very tempted from time to time, especially since I cook so many varieties of dals and lentils. I love the idea of adding cauliflower to the dosa masala mix, and will adapt your recipe to the good old stove top!

    1. I completely understand that desire to not clutter up the kitchen. It is why I have resisted getting an air fryer! But I can't deny the instant pot is worth its space and more, for my style of cooking. (I even bought a second metal insert because I often use it twice for one meal).

  3. I have resisted buying the Instant Pot because I don't want to add any more gadgets to my kitchen, but I am quite tempted now and then! What a lovely idea to add cauliflower to the potato masala. I will certainly try this on my good old stove top :))

  4. I love eating dosa when I am out but I have only made it at home once and it seemed a huge achievement so I admire how everyday it seems for you.

    1. Haha, I know the restaurant dosas can be hard to replicate. But the home ones which are like pancakes or crepes are doable with just a little practice. I find it helps to have a powerful blender to make the batter.

  5. Do you add some water to subzis like cabbage or is the salt enough to avoid the burn?

    1. I add about 1/4 cup water and stir it in before pressure cooking.


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