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Aug 10, 2006 07:56 PM

Pressure Cooker Users Unite!

How many of you use a pressure cooker on a regular basis? What are your favorite recipes and what kind of cooker do you use? I have a 6 quart presto from the 40s. Cook everything from Chicken Paprikash to Stuffed Cabbage and Soups. Quickest way to get a meal done in my opinion!

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  1. Did you know that almost every kitchen in India sports a pressure cooker? It is very energy efficient and for most of our food that's cooked to fall-apart-doneness, it is ideal. One of the most important items an Indian immigrant-to-be is advised to get from the home country is a pressure cooker. We use it to cook rice, lentils/pulses/beans, boil potatoes, steam dhokla and idlis (don't really need a *pressure* cooker for these) etc. almost on a daily basis.

    I don't cook as much Indian food as I used to, but I still use a pressure cooker for rice and certinly for bean based soups and stews.

    9 Replies
    1. re: sweetTooth

      It's funny you should say that because the only person my age (mid twenties) who has a pressure cooker is an Indian whose mom said she couldn't let her daughter be without one. The rest of us are still wondering if it's really necessary.

      She's had luck making risotto in it, but I remember my Chinese mom always using it to make boba.

      1. re: sweetTooth

        I read this somewhere. It got me interested in getting my pressure cooker out and functional again. I haven't used mine for years but it should shorten the time for cooking dals by a lot.

        1. re: sweetTooth

          I'm curious about the cooking rice thing -- what's the procedure, how long does it take to make various kinds? Brown rice takes me 45 minutes to cook; if I could pare that down to thirty I'd be ecstatic.

          1. re: themis

            I wish I had an answer for you regarding brown rice cooking times. I've only tried cooking brown rice in my cooker twice. The first time it didn't cook all the way because I guess I didn't realise it would take longer to cook. Duh! The second time I added too much water thinking for some reason that brown rice would absorb more water. It didn't. I still have that bag of brown basmati rice from Trader Joes sitting around somewhere. These days I just use the frozen box of microwavable brown rice TJs sells. I will try again though and let you know. Somebody suggested soaking the rice in water for an hour before cooking.
            White rice - I wash the rice in 2 changes of water, drain completely and add twice as much water by volume, for a soft texture. For a fluffier texture probably 1.75 times as much water. Once the pressure builds up, I let it hold for 3 to 4 minutes and then lower the heat to very low for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. While the pressure drops, I try not to disturb the cooker - this seems to be critical when cooking pulses. I dunno if it's residual heat from the gas burner even after switching it off or what. Once the pressure drops all the way, rice is ready. This is with my Indian cookers - Hawkins or Prestige brand. I haven't used any of the other brands mentioned here.

            1. re: themis


              I just cooked a pot of basmati in my pressure cooker for the first time. It took about 15 minutes, so it wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. But my TFal Sensor may not be 15PSI...

              According to what I read, brown rice would take about 15 minutes - lots better than 45! but I have not tested it yet.

              Cooking time varies depending on the PSI of your pressure cooker - it will help if you know ahead of time what yours is.

              -- I forgot that I probably needed to cook the rice longer because I'm at a higher altitude ... that's a factor.

              1. re: themis

                Well, I cook brown rice in my PC all the time. To save on washing up, I put the brown rice in a pyrex serving bowl that fits in the PC, and put this on a trivet above boiling water. I put the brown rice in the bowl with boiling water (proportion: 1 1/2 cups boiling water for every cup of brown rice). Then cover the bowl, and bring to pressure. Keep there for 15-20 minutes, and the rice is done perfectly. :)

              2. re: sweetTooth

                sweetTooth, maybe you can unravel a mystery for me (Ive asked this question before). Indian recipes say to cook food for a number of "whistles". What does that mean? Ive always figured it means that the cooker has come up to pressure and steam is coming out. but Im not sure . Please, please explain.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Heh heh heh. DH always teases me about this. (usually when I am leaving him in charge of turning off the heat. In his mom's kitchen, you never let the cooker whistle.)
                  When you use any Indian made pressure cooker, once the pressure builds up, the weight valve at the top makes a whistling sound as it lets out a blast of steam to reduce pressure. If you don't turn off the heat, after some time pressure builds up again and the cooker whistles again. Presumably this will keep happening as long as there is water in the bottom of the cooker to turn into steam, and there is a heat source. The number of whistles after which to turn heat down or off is probably used as a more accurate indicator of pressure having built up enough to cook the contents, versus how many minutes to cook which may vary by make of pressure cooker, age of the rubber gasket, BTU of burner, etc. Thus for cooking rice, I turn down heat all the way to minimum after 1 whistle and then turn off after the second. For daal, I turn heat down after 2 or 3 whistles and then turn off after the 4th. Hope this helped clarify things. :)

                2. re: sweetTooth

                  hi sweet tooth, I would like to add to your comment that almost every kitchen in Venezuela sports a pressure cooker too, I am in my early 30s and use it almost daily even after moving to the US 12 yrs ago. I married an American and all his family is always amazed of me using it to make all meals including baby food, flan, beans, lentils, all veggies, use it as a steamer.... and the best to get the chicken breast frozen from the freezer and have them as a dish on the table in about 17 minutes.

                3. I use mine all the time. Soups and stews mostly.

                  I worked as a personal chef for a few years...used my pressure cooker all the time when I was doing that.

                  1. I've been using a pressure cooker for about 10 years. It took me a little while to get comfortable with the process, but I really came to love it. My first one was a Fagor, which was pretty good; I also now have a Kuhn Rikon, which is even better. Despite owning several excellent PC cookbooks (most of them by Lorna Sass), I usually don't get terribly creative with it, but rely on it for quick versions of almost anything that can be cooked with moist heat and isn't too delicate: chicken fricasee, beef stew, pot roast, pork chops, soups and stocks, risotto, carrots, winter squash, potatoes, etc. Poaches a whole 4-lb. chicken in 20 minutes or so, which is great for those of us who don't turn the oven on until after the autumn solstice. All in all, a terrific invention!

                    1. All great posts, thanks! I didn't know how popular the pressure cooker was with Indians that's very interesting, but makes a lot of sense.

                      As a user for the past 16 or so years, I'm still amazed at not only how quickly you can make an entire meal, but also how tasty the food actually is. Have any of you ever cooked carrots in your cooker? They come out so sweet and just incredible.

                      1. I had a Fagor cooker for years before the handle fell off. Need to get a bigger one for canning.

                        One thing I tried was a Portugese shank stew recipe. Basically, you get some pork and beef neckbones (really cheap), dredge them in seasoned flour, and brown them in batches. Put them in the cooker with some liquid (I used canned consomme, but water or stock is fine), and cook for around 30 minutes. Add a few carrots, parsnips, or potatoes, cook another 10, and serve over noodles or rice.