Kitchn Love Letters

I Haven’t Left My Home in 40 Days. Here’s the One Recipe I’ve Used Over and Over Again.

published Apr 29, 2020
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Overhead view of ingredients in a blender

I haven’t left the house in more than 40 days and it’s dramatically changed the way I cook. Breakfast isn’t a rush anymore, I no longer have to make a week’s worth of office lunches ahead of time, and I’ve gotten much less wasteful with ingredients. And even though I’m homeschooling a small child right now and still have a job, I still feel like I have all the time in the world to let a big pot of beans simmer on the stove for hours. I’ve been enjoying cooking recipes that take time or are more hands-on than what I would normally make.

This is why I was surprised when I realized the recipe I’m turning to over and over again is the simplest blender sauce used in one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes.

You see, the only thing I love more than my Instant Pot is telling people how much I love my Instant Pot. And if anyone ever asks me for Instant Pot recipes, I immediately suggest the Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Dr. Urvashi Pitre. The famous Dr. Butter Chicken Lady’s cookbook is full of delicious and flavorful dishes that are well-tested and absolutely foolproof. And my favorite recipe from the book is her chicken vindaloo — most notably, the spicy sauce that comes together easily and makes my kitchen smell spectacular. 

Try the recipe: Chicken Vindaloo from Dr. Urvashi Pitre

The recipe calls for tossing onion, garlic, and ginger in some peanut oil and microwaving for a few minutes, until the edges of the aromatics start to brown. Then you put that mixture into a blender with vinegar, chopped tomato, salt, garam masala, paprika, cayenne, coriander, and cumin. All that’s left is to pour the blended sauce over chicken thighs and set the Instant Pot to high for five minutes. It turns out perfectly every time.

Lately, though, I haven’t been able to find chicken thighs at the grocery store. But I’ve discovered that the sauce on its own is a lot more versatile than I expected. In fact, it’s an absolute lifesaver when it comes to cooking random ingredients I happen to have in the house and need to use. 

One day I accidentally made way too many chickpeas, and I didn’t know what to do with them. So I whipped up a quick batch of the vindaloo sauce in the microwave and blender, and poured it right in the pot of chickpeas. It was delicious, and I had a ton of leftovers to store in the freezer. Now I find myself doing that all the time, for whatever I need to cook and don’t have a plan for. I’ve used the sauce with potatoes, lentils, and hard-boiled eggs. I’ve stirred spinach into the sauce and let it wilt for extra vegetables. I’ve also added leftover rice to make the whole thing turn out hearty and substantial. 

I’ve mostly been using my Instant Pot as a rice cooker lately, and I rarely have chicken in the fridge, but I’ve been making that sauce recipe more than ever. It takes minutes to whip up and goes great with just about everything — even those aforementioned beans simmering on the stove.

This story is part of our Staying Home series, in which Kitchn editors and contributors share the recipes, tools, and habits that are helping them through the pandemic. As we work to flatten the curve, we’re cooking more, shopping less frequently, and looking for the good and the bright as much as we can. In this very disorienting time, here’s what’s keeping us going.