“My son Mark learned to cook with a [stovetop] pressure cooker when he was nineteen years old,” Urvashi Pitre writes in the introduction to her forthcoming book, Instant Pot Fast & Easy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2019). “I still remember the day he mastered four different dishes in one day. Now, Mark is scary-smart, this is true, but it’s also true that pressure cookers are not that complicated.”
Pitre—aka the “Butter-Chicken Lady,” per New Yorker contributor Priya Krishna—is probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever talked to; she’s a scientist by day and a cookbook author by night. From a single 30-minute phone conversation with her, I learned more about pressure cooking than I have reading about it for years in cookbooks, online, or even in my own kitchen tinkering with my little 3-quart Instant Pot, the electric pressure cooker Pitre also uses for her recipes. In these 30 minutes (about the time it takes for her Instant Pot butter chicken to come together), she expressed her frustration at all of the Instant Pot recipes out there that make you sauté first, when science shows a simple dump-and-cook would do.