Recipes and Review

The Instant Pot now boasts an air fryer, but is it any good? We tried it

Chef Mokgadi Itsweng shares her verdict on the new Instant Pot Duo Crisp — and some of the recipes she used to road test

04 April 2021 - 00:02 By Hilary Biller
Chef Mokgadi Itsweng and the new Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer.
Chef Mokgadi Itsweng and the new Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

The Instant Pot is less intimidating type of pressure cooker that plugs into the wall and comes with a host of other functions: it's also slow cooker, rice maker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer and yoghurt maker.

The new Instant Pot Duo Crisp sees the addition of an air frying function. We gave one to food activist and chef Mokgadi Itsweng, owner of Ujuspice Food Company, to road test.

Here's her verdict:

I was both excited to try out the new Instant Pot Duo Crisp and terrified because of my fear of the old-style of pressure cooker — there are legendary tales of such pots exploding and spewing their contents all over the kitchen walls and ceiling.

It took me a day or two to unwrap this brand-new version — that I was soon to discover was way more than a pressure cooker — and I have to admit after “playing” with it I've discovered I can't live without my new favourite kitchen helper.

I started with the simple oxtail stew I used to cook for hours on the stove top. After only an hour in the new Instant Pot, the oxtail was deliciously tender and falling off the bone.

As someone who enjoys pulses and grains, one of the best features of this gadget is that my favourite traditional recipes can be made without any pre-soaking and hours of cooking.

The ultimate test was making my favourite sorghum and beans recipe, “dikgobe” (recipe below) — I did it in half the time, prepared the usual way, but with way less effort and without compromising on flavour.

The beauty of this appliance is that it comes with two lids, so beyond pressure cooking, with a different lid, it becomes an air fryer.

With the pressure lid on I discovered one can saute ingredients on a high heat, or get all chefy and easily sous vide them by sealing them in a plastic bag and simmering them very gently in water — a method that yields the ultimate flavour and tenderness.

Whereas by merely opting to change a lid the Instant Pot becomes an air fryer — my cabbage crisps (recipe below) are now famous, they are that good — I can also bake, grill, roast and even dehydrate ingredients.

Using the air fryer has been such a revelation. I can fry my favourite foods like my veggie fritters in half the oil, and they come out crispy and delicious.

Yes, I give the Instant Pot Duo Crisp full marks for convenience, safety and innovation. And the proof of the pudding is the trio of recipes below, which I make over and over again using the different features of the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp, R5,399, is available at all @Home stores and online from Takealot and Yuppiechef.

Cabbage crisps.
Cabbage crisps.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

ITSWENG'S INSTANT POT RECIPES

CABBAGE CRISPS

These cabbage crisps are the most delicious answer to food waste. Most people would throw away the large outer cabbage leaves, but I turn them into these amazing chips.

You can choose to make them spicy by adding cayenne pepper to the chips, but you can omit the pepper if you want them plain yet still delicious.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

4-6 large outer cabbage leaves, rinsed and dried

20ml (4 tsp) olive oil

5ml (1 tsp) each of salt and pepper

5ml (1 tsp) cayenne pepper, optional

5ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika

Method:

  1. Working one leaf at a time, remove the thick middle rib of the cabbage leaf and set it aside to be used in stews or sliced raw in salads.
  2. Cut the leaf in half, and each half into 3 pieces. Each leaf should give you 6 large pieces. Ensure the pieces are large as they shrink on cooking.
  3. Place the sliced cabbage pieces in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and toss to mix.
  4. Combine the spices and spoon over the cabbage pieces.
  5. Place the air fryer basket inside the Instant Pot's inner pot. Place half the leaves inside the bottom of the basket, making sure not to overcrowd them, then add the grill tray. Place the remaining leaves over the grill tray. Close with the air fryer lid.
  6. Press 220°C temperature setting with 5 minutes on the timer, then press start. 
  7. When the time is up, open the air fryer, plate the cabbage chips and serve.
Dikgobe with mushrooms.
Dikgobe with mushrooms.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

DIKGOBE WITH MUSHROOMS

My favourite comfort food ever. The combination of creamy ditloo with sorghum grain is a serious party in the mouth.

The mushrooms make this dish a complete, filling and healthy plant-forward dish that can be enjoyed as a main or a side.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

15ml (1 tbsp) oil

250g mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

A handful fresh thyme

500ml (2 cups) sorghum grain, soaked in water

250ml (1 cup) ditloo (bambara nuts), soaked in water

1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock

A drizzle of olive oil

A handful of fresh herbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Pickled onions, optional

Method:

  1. Switch on the Instant Pot and press sauté, then press start.
  2. Heat oil in the pot, then sauté the mushrooms for 3 minutes, making sure not to crowd them. You want them to be crisp and browned, not stewed. Remove from the pot and set aside. 
  3. Fry the onion, garlic and thyme together, until the onion is soft, in the same oil as the mushrooms in the Instant Pot. 
  4. Drain the sorghum, then stir-fry in the onion mixture. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the soaked ditloo and the stock.
  5. Close the pressure cooker lid. Set the timer to 40 minutes. 
  6. When the time is up, release the steam and allow the pot to switch off completely.
  7. Open the pot and drizzle over some olive oil and fresh herbs, and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Spoon dikgobe onto a platter and top with cooked mushrooms and pickled onions, if using, and serve.
Caramel pudding.
Caramel pudding.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

CARAMEL PUDDING

Super easy to make and perfect for entertaining.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Butter, for greasing

15ml (1 tbsp) caster sugar

4 large eggs, separated

180g Caramel Treat

Method:

  1. Grease the inside of 6 teacups or ramekins.
  2. Add 2.5ml (½ tsp) of caster sugar to each and shake it around until the insides are coated. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and the Caramel Treat together until creamed and pale. 
  4. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and form into peaks. 
  5. Fold the egg whites into the caramel egg mixture, making sure not to overmix.
  6. Spoon into prepared cups or ramekins. Place them inside the Instant Pot basket, close the air fryer lid and set to bake at 200ºC for 8 minutes. Press start.
  7. Once the Instant Pot switches off, remove the puddings from the pot and serve immediately.

WIN AN INSTANT POT

We're giving away an Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer worth R5,399. 

To stand a chance to win, send your name, address and contact details to food@sundaytimes.co.za with INSTANT POT in the subject line and the answer to the following question: Name two methods of cooking in the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer.

Entries close on Wednesday, April 7 at 12 noon. Please note: only ONE entry per person. T&Cs apply.