Take Instant Pot cooking to the next level with a pot-in-pot technique

Instant Pot Grits With Mushrooms and Chickpeas. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.

When I saw the cover of Richa Hingle’s new Instant Pot cookbook, one phrase jumped out: “With new techniques, including pot-in-pot!”

Pot-in-pot? I had an inkling of what that might mean, but just to be sure, I flipped to the pertinent chapter, and sure enough: Hingle, a.k.a. Vegan Richa, included instructions and six example recipes for a technique whereby you cook two or even three parts of a meal simultaneously, using an extra bowl and/or rack to stack the elements. (She also sprinkles other pot-in-pot recipes throughout the rest of the book.)

I was immediately sold on the possibility. After all, the Instant Pot’s greatest gift to home kitchens isn’t the speed; it’s the hands-off cooking. Multiply the number of dishes you can make this way at once, and the efficiency can’t be beat.

Hingle, 43, was an early adopter of the IP because she has long known how useful pressure cooking is for two of the biggest staples of her homeland’s cuisine: legumes and grains. When she was growing up in central India, her mother had several stovetop pressure cookers that she used daily, and Hingle is no different. Even though she loves the Instant Pot, “I still have five pressure cookers in the house,” she told me in a Zoom call from her home in Seattle.

Just as pressure cooking itself is nothing new, neither is the pot-in-pot technique. Hingle’s mother often cooked multiple elements – daal and rice, for example – in stacked fashion inside her stovetop pots.

Today, the Instant Pot has made pressure cooking so much more accessible, and Hingle hopes it will do the same for a technique that she thinks more people need to embrace.

Her book deals with plenty of straightforward Instant Pot techniques, too: The 150 recipes include plenty rooted in Indian traditions, from mushroom masala and vegetable biryani to rajma masala and malai kofta. She devotes an entire chapter to dals, lentils, beans and peas. But she also delves into other global cuisines, with a Cajun-style red beans and rice, West African-inspired peanut stew, and a jackfruit crunch wrap with vegan queso.

If you’re ready for more, try one of the pot-in-pot recipes, such as a mushroom Bourguignon over a potato-cauliflower-mash, Ethiopian lentils over spiced cabbage, or these grits topped with a mushroom-chickpea stew.

Don’t assume you’ll need to order special equipment. When I made the grits and stew, I used the long-handled steaming rack/trivet that came with my 6-quart Instant Pot, along with a deep 4-cup stainless steel bowl and some foil. (Make sure you use a bowl that not only fits inside the pot, but also leaves you enough room to grab it when it’s time to come out.)

In the bottom went the stew ingredients, and the rack fit perfectly on top. The grits ingredients went in the bowl, and the two cooked together for 15 minutes (plus the time to come to pressure and the time for the pressure to naturally release).

Out came one bowl and then the other, and all it took was a little whisking and a little more vegan butter to make the grits smooth, a creamy base for the wine-infused stew on top.

This is next-level Instant Pot cookery – literally.

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Make sure you use a bowl that not only fits inside the pot, but also leaves you enough room to grab it when it’s time to come out. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.

Instant Pot Grits With Mushrooms and Chickpeas

Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

4 servings

This recipe uses a pot-in-pot technique to make two elements – creamy grits plus a saucy mushroom-chickpea stew – simultaneously in the same Instant Pot. It works with the standard steaming rack that comes with the device plus a 4-cup stainless-steel bowl that you cover with foil and set on top of the rack.

Active time: 20 mins; Total time: 1 hour

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.



3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

3/4 cup grits or polenta

2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegan butter or extra-virgin olive oil, if needed

Nondairy milk, if needed


1 tablespoon vegan butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish (may substitute 1 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed

12 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)

1/4 cup dry white or red wine (may substitute with 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar plus 2 tablespoons water)

1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Make the grits: In a 4-cup stainless steel bowl that will fit inside your Instant Pot (with enough space around it to help you remove it), or an insert designed to do so, combine the broth, grits, nutritional yeast (if using), salt and pepper. Mix well and cover tightly with foil.

Make the mushrooms and chickpeas: Set the Instant Pot to SAUTE. Melt the butter in the pot, then add the sage and thyme and stir until fragrant, a few seconds. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the broth and add it to the pot along with the chickpeas, mushrooms, wine, salt and pepper, and mix well. Select the CANCEL setting.

Place a heatproof trivet or steaming rack, such as the one that comes with the Instant Pot, over the mushroom mixture, then place the container of grits on the trivet or rack. Lock the lid in place, set the pressure release knob to sealing, select PRESSURE at the high setting, and set the cook time to 15 minutes. Once the cooking cycle is finished, press CANCEL and let the pressure release naturally.

Open the lid and use oven mitts or other heat protection to help you carefully remove the bowl with the grits. Whisk the grits vigorously to achieve a creamy consistency, adding the vegan butter or olive oil and/or some nondairy milk to make it creamier, if needed.

Divide the grits among serving bowls or plates. Top with the mushroom mixture, garnish with sage and/or thyme and serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving (3/4 cup grits and 3/4 cup toppings) | Calories: 298; Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 706 mg; Carbohydrates: 49 g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g; Sugar: 7 g; Protein: 10 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Vegan Richa’s Instant Pot Cookbook” by Richa Hingle (Hachette Go, 2022).





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