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No time to cook? Try One Pot cooking. Recipe: Tangy, spicy vegetable Quinoa lentil dish

There are many reasons why people hesitate to cook fresh everyday. According to Ayurveda eating freshly cooked food is more desirable to give Prana or life force. We know from experience that when we do eat freshly cooked meals made from scratch at home, we feel energized and happy. Think about Thanksgiving or any festival when the whole family slaves all day making delicious dishes and having a meal at the table that evening with family and friends. It brings about a certain pleasure just tasting every food and a sense of gratitude deep within for the feast. Ideally that is something the body craves, freshly prepared meals to stimulate the life force or Prana within us. Not only does our body feel satisfied but our mind and emotions too.

Unfortunately our modern lifestyle is not conducive to daily meal prep, that we get used to eating leftovers and processed foods. It’s not only the people working outside the house full time but also the elderly and disabled who are unable to cook elaborate meals. Whether it is lack of time or inability to do a lot of work due to age or other health issues, one pot meals can come in handy.

Instant pot, an electric pressure cooker, is the new craze which has made our jobs easy. It also incorporates other modes of cooking including steaming, sautéing, slow cooking and yogurt making. The most useful feature is one pot meals that can be made with the ingredients available at home. It is fun to experiment with pasta and veggies with spices and sauces. Any grain from rice, barley, quinoa etc can be cooked with flavorings. Sky is the limit when we use our imagination.

For those with restrictions like my patients who have renal disease, it gives an option to use the veggies that are allowed on a low potassium diet. For those who are not very active, cooking gives a way to move a little while creating something they can enjoy. It is definitely easier, less expensive and healthier when you cook for yourself and know what ingredients are actually in it. When you eat out you don’t know what kind of energy the chef put into it while cooking. But when you take on the task, you can bless it with positive energy. Ayurveda talks about how all of these aspects impact our health and well being. Mental and emotional well being is just as important as the physical well being if not more.

Following is a traditional Indian dish that can be modified to suit your palette. Rice is usually used in the original recipe but I have used Quinoa instead to make it lighter and keep the blood sugar under better control.

Try it and ENJOY!

Quinoa Bisi Bhela Bhath in instant pot

Tangy, spicy quinoa with lentils and veggies

Serving size: 1 cup Total servings: 5

Per Serving: Calories: 207 kcals Carbohydrates: 102 g Fat: 11.2 g Protein: 10.6 g

1 cup of small onions

1 cup mixed veggies (optional) (green peppers, carrots, peas)

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup moong dal or lentils

Water 4.5 cups

Tamarind paste 2 tsp

Salt 2 tsp

Sambhar powder 2 tsp

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Bisi bhela masala 3 tsp

Curry leaves

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Hing or Asafetida 1/4 tsp

Ghee for seasoning

Cashew nuts 2 tsps

oil for sauteing 3 tbsp


Heat oil and add mustard seeds. After they crackle add the onions and sauté. Then add the veggies one by one and continue sautéing. Next add the dal and quinoa mix. Add the powders, tamarind paste and salt. (Add 1 tsp of red chili powder or cayenne powder if you want more spicy). Add water. Mix well. Pressure cook for 7 mins. Natural pressure release and then open. Stir well. Roast cashews in ghee, with hing and curry leaves. Add to the mix. Stir to mix.


If Sambhar powder and bisi bhela powder are not available substitute as follows:

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chili powder

If no tamarind available substitute with 2 Tbsp of tomato paste for tangy taste.

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