The Gujarati kitchen’s greatest asset is a pressure cooker, which has been around since 1679. Hate it or love it, but don’t be afraid of it and learn to master it. It reduces cooking time drastically and more so for lentils, beans and rice dishes of the Gujarati meal. The first pressure cooker was invented in France in 1679, and the modern ones are better and safer. Just scanning the many recipes through the letters will show you how vital this device is for me. See the list at the bottom.
I remember how Amar used to hate me using the pressure-cooker, specially the hissing noises and the piercing whistles. The newer versions these days rely more on visual signs and less on audible scares. Most people visualise an exploding pot when they think of pressure cookers, but these scenarios are all avoided nowadays due to excellent safety features. As per any device, make sure you read the accompanying manual thoroughly and follow ALL the do’s and don’t’s.
The latest ‘one pot cookers’ (or sometimes referred to as ‘pot in pot’) are the state-of-the-art cooking vessels for the new generations. The one pot cookers remove all the guesswork of pressure cookers and are deemed to be safer, especially when you get side-tracked!
I have compiled a playlist showing clips on pressure cookers and an important , ‘what NOT to do’ clip. All the inhibitions for this method of cooking will be dispelled after watching that.
Overall using the pressure cooker is an acquired art. Follow the basics below and you will not go wrong.
- Make sure there is some water in the pot before you start the pressure building.
- Never overfill the pot: pay attention to the ‘max’ mark.
- Ensure the rubber seal is in place and close the lid tightly.
- Start on a high heat and once the pressure is attained(shown by various methods, e.g., movement of coloured lever, whistling sound etc.), reduce heat and maintain the pressure. This is when you start timing the cooking.
- After cooking has completed, open the lid only when all the pressure has been removed. There are several methods of releasing the pressure, video 2 shows you how.
Another discussion regarding this method of cooking is whether it results into healthy, nutrient-rich, tasty food. Overall the longer the ingredients are cooked , the more nutrients are destroyed. Hence by reducing your cook-time using pressure, more nutrients will be preserved. My research shows that pressure-cooking is better than:
- Boiling, where most nutrients leach into the boiling water which is usually discarded.
- Steaming on the hob, mainly due to reduction in cooking time.
- Roasting in the oven, due again to long cooking time.
There are also other researches indicating that pressure cooking as compared to other methods of cooking:
- produces thoroughly cooked and digestible beans and lentils,
- destroys nutrients to a lesser extent, specially the heat sensitive ones,
- retains higher percentage of anti-oxidants,
- reduces production of harmful chemicals such as acrylamide, phytic acid, and lectins, plus
- denatures proteins to a lesser extent.
Besides many years of experience, I gathered a lot of information via the following sites:
For me , the biggest negative of pressure cooking is the over-cooking where the resulting dish turns out mushy and liquidy. Mind you, this is great for the elderly and those with chewing problems!
Some recipes I have uploaded that uses a pressure cooker are:
Once mastered you can use the pressure cooker to reduce cooking time for any part of your meal. Just to prove what an important gadget it is for me, i have added a gallery of all the cookers I have in possession.
As usual…..HAPPY COOKING!