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Oct 16, 2002 03:00 PM

whistling pressure cookers?

  • j

Many of my indian cookbooks use pressure cooking extensively and call for cooking things for, say, "two whistles". My pressure cooker doesnt do this and I havent found an Indian store that sells models from the subcontinent that do.

Can anyone shed some light on what time period is represented by a "whistle" in these pressure cooker recipes?


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  1. Jen,

    there really is no way to give time approximations for number of "CT's", it would depend on the cooker, amount of liquid, etc.

    I'm a little surprised to hear that you can't find old-style pressure cookers in the stores there though - here in chicago we can even find replacement weights for ours. Ask if they carry "vinod" brand - I'm pretty sure they still blow of steam. Bonus is that the pressure cooker comes with a little cookbook which isn't half bad.

    if you wanna e-mail me what you're making I can sorta give approximations for some things (e.g potatos for alu bujia should be soft enough to break apart by hand, potatos for dam alu should be fork-tender, lamb/goat for yakhni should be almost to the point of falling off the bone etc.)

    7 Replies
    1. re: zim

      hullo, jen.

      i purchased my pressure cooker from a store in jackson heights; can't remember the name. but theres a grocery store called patel brothers on 74th street (718 898 3445) that will either have one, or will tell you where to get one.


      1. re: zim

        I have an old style presto cooker with a weight that rocks when the optimum pressure is reached, and I am also familiar with using the even older type with an indicator that rises on the weight to indicate the level of pressure; both of these release steam, but I am still puzzled by what the "whistles" in the recipes refer to;It seems to refer to a time interval that is marked by a whistle; I cant see how that would mark time on my cooker unless I allowed the pressure to fall off and then brought it up to full pressure again - but that would lengthen the cooking time, so it seems improbable.Ill look around for the vinod, but Im looking at buying a magefesa cooker now, so it would be nice to understand the principle involved; then I could use it with other equipment.

        Mostly, I would like to use the cooker to cook dals, which do not do well in my presto cooker.


        1. re: jen kalb

          i forgot to add - you'll get a pressure cooker that whistles in jackson heights.

          what happens is that when the pressure builds up in the cooker, there is a blast of steam that escapes from the top - that blast makes a whistling sound and rocks the little thingummy above the pressure release valve - very dramatic. thats one whistle.

          1. re: howler

            OK - even my American pressure cooker does that., But when it says to cook for "two whistles" what that mean?

            This may be a descriptive rather than a product design issue...

            1. re: jen kalb

              after steam/pressure is released from the first whistle, the pressure gradually builds up again letting off another whistle - now you have reached 2 whistles. As you probably guess, the whole cycle can repeat quite a few times (basically until you run out of liquid)

            2. re: howler

              you let it whistle once - the pressure is relieved and the whistling will stop; leave it on a very low flame - the pressure will build yet again and thats whistle two.

          2. re: zim

            I just bought a vinod pressure cooker and have the manual but not the cooking instructions. I am not sure how to count the whistles and am having no luck finding the cookbook online.


          3. b
            Buen Provecho

            I use a newish model pressure cooker that has a stable pressure marker i.e. does not rock like the old style. The pressure gauge has three markings on it that supposedly represent different pounds of pressure. I wonder if the "whistles" that the cookbooks are calling for refer to certain pressures being reached. I've never seen/heard a whistling pressure cooker either, but I'd be really interested to know more about them. Maybe the whistle is similar to a whistling kettle and is a safety mechanism for letting off steam. Anybody have specific brands they know of that whistle?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Buen Provecho

              I have a small Hawkins pressure cooker. It has a weight somewhat like the one on the Prestos, but this one clips loosely to the valve step (with spring loaded ball bearings). If the pressure gets too high, the weight rises a bit, and lets off a burst of steam. My guess is that it is this steam release is what some sources call a whistle.

              I can imagine using these steam releases as a way of 'timing' the cooking if you don't have a kitchen clock. I prefer to lower the heat so there is a slight steam release rather than the bursts.