Cooking in the times of Coronavirus – Oats Porridge


As the world grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic, entire countries are in lockdown. Roads are eerily empty and schools are closed. Where possible, people are working from home and children are being home-schooled.

As a doctor, I do not have the option of working from home. Babies still need to be delivered and we need to make sure they and their mums are safe. Normally, my work gives me joy. A baby’s first cry is the most beautiful sound, especially to an obstetrician’s ears! However, the last few days haven’t been joyful. Going to work is now a bit scary and all everyone talks about is Covid-19.

Thankfully, I am off this weekend. Normally, that means a lie-in before making poha or upma for breakfast. This morning though, I woke up feeling anxious and worried. A cup of tea later, I still didn’t feel ok. I spent a good few minutes reading depressing news of the rising death toll in Italy (if you have been following this blog, you will know my love for Italy). All my watsApp and FB messages were about the pandemic. Putting my phone away, I decided to head to the kitchen and tackle breakfast. I needed a food that was comforting – to warm and cheer me up. Ideally, this would have meant eating idlis made by Amma but my mum is thousands of kilometres away and I didn’t have the energy to cook a complicated Indian breakfast. So I turned to my Instant Pot for inspiration.

I dumped a cup of Scottish oats, 3 cups of water, 1 cup milk and a pinch of salt into the pot. Gave it all a good mix and set to pressure cook for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally in 15 minutes and that’s it. Creamy oats porridge, ready to eat!

I had my porridge with a generous drizzle of honey and some crushed hazelnuts. This porridge can be served with different toppings  : bananas, maple syrup, fresh berries, mixed seeds/nuts…the list is endless. On a cold frosty March morning, this is the best breakfast one could want. Covid-19 was forgotten for a precious few moments while I savoured my porridge and looked out into the spring sunshine.

oats porridge
Oats porridge with honey and crushed hazelnuts


1 cup oats (rolled or steelcut)

3 cups water

1 cup milk ( can use almond or soy milk to make it vegan)

a pinch of salt

Toppings : honey, maple syrup, nuts, fresh/frozen berries, thinly sliced banans/apples .. feel free to experiment


Mix all ingredients together in the instant pot, close the lid and set to pressure cook (manual setting in older versions) for 4 minutes.

Pressure release naturally (takes 15-20 min) , give it a stir and ladle into your bowl.

Add more milk  if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Add toppings and enjoy!

  1. If there is very little liquid, the instant pot will show a Burn error. Make sure to add enough.
  2. You can make this oats porridge on your stovetop too but will need to stir it constantly.
  3. Oats are a good source of fiber and have a low to medium glycemic index. They are thus suitable in a diabetic diet – skip the honey/syrup in this case.

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