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Mar 14, 2010 06:25 PM

Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Indian/Middle Eastern recipes

Hi, guys
I have never used a pressure cooker but I love Indian/Middle Eastern food. Now thinking about buying a pressure cooker. Do you know any good cookbook specializing in Indian/Middle Eastern recipes using a pressure cooker, or a book with majority recipes in these? Thank you in advance!

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  1. This is a nice list of many of the popular pressure cooker cookbooks available:
    but none of them seem to be Indian or Middle Eastern. I know that Lorna Sass has several curries in her cookbooks, but certainly not a majority. It's strange, too, because pressure cookers are so popular in India. Have you tried Amazon? They sell pressure cookers, too.

    10 Replies
    1. re: AmyH

      Hi, Amy
      Thanks for the link. Yes, I tried with Amazon, but have not seen any meaningful results. I find it strange, too. Maybe I need to ask one of my indian friends.

      1. re: hobbybaker

        Buy yourself an Indian made pressure cooker! The accompanying book should have some Indian style pc recipes.

        However it is possible that most Indians don't need a book to tell them how to use a PC. They saw their parents use them. Once you have the basic methods down, you can adapt non-PC recipes to fit

        1. re: paulj

          Paul, thank you for your advice. Are Indian made pressure cookers generally as good as Khun Rikon or Fagor? I initially thought to buy one of them and buy a book separately. I might need to ask opinions from some of my Indian friends on the indian-mades:)

          1. re: hobbybaker

            I have 3 pressure cookers - old 4qt aluminum presto, 6qt Fagor, small 1.5 l Hawkins (Indian). Each, in a sense has its place and pros/cons.

            I'm used to the slow rocking of the Presto pressure indicator. Other than replacing the gaskets this has not given any problems.

            I'm still adjusting to the Fagor's pressure indicator. On several occasions I've let the pressure get too high, triggering both the valve popup and the side gasket pressure release. I may need to replace the gasket, since it doesn't seem to hold pressure as well. This cooker is a replacement, since the handle broke (under warranty) on the first. But stainless steel is nice.

            I bought the Hawkins with camping in mind. It is just enough to cook a meal for 2, and fits my small camping stove. It is aluminum, with a different lid mounting system (the lid fits inside the rim). The weight pops up to release a burst of steam.

            1. re: paulj

              Paul, thanks for your insights on the machines:) I will do more research and think about it. As for a cookbook What I found from Amazon was only this:
              "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure"
              I do not intend to find any "Vegan" book but nothing significant comes from my key word search, "indian (food)", "pressure cooker". While asking for more opinions, I try to check this book. Thanks:)

        2. re: hobbybaker

          Amy, which book of Lorna Sass do you mean not having a majority for indian recipes? I am king of hoping these are close enough. I will try to check those. I am not a vegan, so it is not necessarily a vegan book but as they say vegan, maybe more indian recipes? That is my simple guess:)



          1. re: hobbybaker

            I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were looking for vegetarian recipes. I only have Lorna Sass's "Cooking Under Pressure" which has a handful of Indian-style recipes but not a majority. You might be interested in her blog:
            You could even send her an e-mail. She's very responsive to questions, and she should be able to point you to the best book of hers that would suit your needs. Or maybe even to another author's book.

            1. re: AmyH

              Amy, I am not a vegan, so I am not particular about vegitarian cookbooks/recipes. But I am guessing that these vegitarian books might have more indian recipes:) Thanks for your suggestions. Excellent idea to ask her by sending an email before buying :)

              1. re: hobbybaker

                OK, I'm looking through Cooking Under Pressure. The Indian/Middle Eastern recipes ( some more loosely defined than others) that I see are:
                Curried Parsnip Soup
                Lentil Soup with Prunes and Pears
                Moroccan Lamb Tagine
                Lamb with Olives
                Lamb Curry
                Chicken with Lentils and Spinach
                Chicken Curry
                Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes
                Chickpea Curry
                Grain Salad with Marinated Artichoke Hearts and Sun-dried Tomatoes
                Quinoa Tabbouleh
                Wheat berry-Chickpea Stew
                Millet Pilaf
                That's really just a small fraction of the great recipes in this book.

                1. re: AmyH

                  Amy, Thanks a lot. looks good. If I buy this book, maybe those are enogh for the time being especially together of bunch of recipes at websites you and others pointed out :)

      2. How about the recipes at the Hawkins website? There are enough there to keep you cooking for a few weeks :)


        I have smallest in the 'classic' line.

        Their tips page is interesting:

        Here's a warning that I never saw in a Fagor book:
        "The cooker can be used on wood or coal fires provided it is not in direct contact with hot coals. WARNING: DIRECT CONTACT WITH HOT COALS CAN DAMAGE THE METAL. There should be at least a 1 inch / 2.5 cm gap between the burning coals and the base of the cooker."

        Fagor also doesn't have recipes for idli (though those are steamed without pressure

        2 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Paul, They look great. Thank you again for your recipe. Be careful when you use yours for camping:)

          1. re: paulj

            i use my idli molds in a pasta pot. is there an advantage to doing it in a PC, if they are not being cooked under pressure?

            Also, would those hawkins separators work in a fagor cooker? and are the separators available in the US?


          2. Pressure cookers are great for making dals, kidney beans (rajma), garbanzo beans (cholay) and meat dishes, epscially goat or other meats that need to be tenderized. Use any regular recipe and just pressure cook it instead of simmering over low heat.

            5 Replies
            1. re: boogiebaby

              boogiebaby, I think a pressure cooker make those easier to make. how do you adjust a cooking time from regular recipes? How do you decide? That is the biggest mistery of a pressure cooker to me ( I do not have a cooker yet.) when modifying regular recipes. Let's say, a regular recipes tells, simmer 20 minutes. How do I know how many minutes it supposed to be? Does it vary from one pressure cooker from another?

              1. re: boogiebaby

                If you go with an Indian type, there was an old topic that decoded 'whistle' times usually given in South Asian recipe books.

                The book that came with my stainless steel Presto p/c show 20-30 minutes for whole dry bean types, probably 1/3 the typical stovetop time. For non-Indian recipes I always undercook (say, 10-15 min) and restart if needed.

                I would Not recommend cooking lentils or split peas in the p/c unless you want soup. OTOH I don't like crunchy chickpeas so a p/c is my implement of choice for them.

                Legumes are one of the exceptions to the 'much less liquid' rule for p/c cooking. I would go with the usual amount until you get a feel for it.

                I'm really liking my s/s cooker, especially since it does double duty as an easy-to-clean, heavy duty, high sided saucepan/stockpot.

                1. re: DiveFan

                  i think dals and curries are the easiest things to start out making in a pressure cooker, as it's really hard to overcook them. The first few times I made dal in my pressure cooker, i put in too much water, so I had to boil it down, but that was okay, because you can't really overcook it.

                  With curry I just follow a regular recipe and then use the cooking times that came with my pressure cooker for that kind of meat stew (ie beef or lamb stew). again, it's hard to go wrong, since there's really no such thing as an overcooked lamb curry.

                  My aunt in india stacks her rice and dal and veggies in little pots inside her pressure cooker, essentially make her whole meal in one pot, but i haven't figured out how to do that yet.

                  you might try looking on indian cooking sites for pressure cooker cookbook recs and then searching amazon to see if they have the book. but those recipes will be set up for indian PCs (ie whistles and such) and not the new western models like fagors.

                  I went to the indian neighborhood here and looked at the indian PC when i was buying mine, but it was more expensive than the fagor and seemed more complicated to use, somehow.

                  also check this website--they use a pressure cooker in many of their recipes:


                  1. re: missmasala

                    On first try, closing the lid on a Hawkins is complicated, but not hard once you get the hang of it.

                    1. re: missmasala

                      Dive Fan: is your pressure cooker non-indian? is it easier to clean?
                      Miss masala: I need to think about going indian p/c or non indian p/c. One thing I know is I want to have a stainless steel cooker. Maybe smaller size as we are only two and I mostly use it for beans and grains:) Thank you for your insight.

                2. I don't know of an Indian pressure cooker cook book, but many Indian English language and Indian language cook books which are sold in India use pressure cooker timings in the instructions. If you have ever seen these recipes, they are written by and for Indians and use language like "cook for 3 whistles"...which means three whistles from a pressure cooker (I don't think American pressure cookers have a whistle (gasket?) any more). If you could find books like this it would be helpful. Online, you can find Indian and Pakistani food sites or blogs that are mostly frequented by South Asian users, you might also be able to find these types of recipes, there.

                  Many people swear by pressure cookers, though. Some people make EVERYTHING in a pressure cooker.

                  I myself have a Hawkins. I pressure cook large legumes: rajma, black chickpeas, white chick peas, sabut maash, and black eyed peas. I use it mainly for these large legumes only. I feel it ruins the texture of smaller or split legumes, and also ruins the taste and texture of meat and vegetables. So aside from regular use with large legumes, I only use it for time saving when I am in a pinch. Sometimes I use it to boil potatoes quickly, too. That's about it. Oh, and pressure cooker is a MUST for daal makhni. Without that you would be stirring and mashing for hours. See if you can get a pressure cooker daal makhni recipe online.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    I didn't have time to google you some desi website pressure cooker "whistle" recipes before, but have now. Give khanapakana.com a perusal for more.

                    for a chickpea recipe: http://www.khanapakana.com/recipe/tem...

                    a small red kidney bean recipe (chawli...buy it at desi grocer or just sub black-eyed peas

                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      Sanjeev Kapoor might also be a good place to find some. He's like the Rachel Ray of India. I tried searching on 'pressure cooker' and didn't find anything, but the first recipe I looked at did have pressure cooker instructions. So maybe his search engine is only looking at titles. Here's the link to his Indian recipes:

                      1. re: AmyH

                        Tarla Dalal has a Pressure Cooker cookbook out. Her recipes are pretty reliable and simple and will be heavily vegetarian.

                        I am one of the ones who has looked for "whistle" decoding in the indian recipes. Frankly, it still is not clear, but its not hard to cross-reference cooking times with american cookbooks or ontime cooking references to determine how many minutes under pressure we need for cooking kidney beans, chana dal, chickpeas, lamb stew, etc.

                        Personally, I would rather cook indian meat stews low and slow but the pressure cooker does tenderize it rapidly. For vegetables, potatoes are a great use of pressure cookers -

                        I cant see the merit of cooking green veg in it - though my parents use their pressure cooker extensively for all kinds of veg including broccoli and asparagus fresh out of their garden, you are talking about a minute under pressure and getting it out of there fast to avoid overcooking. Its just not worth it and risks the texture of the final product.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Jen, the book looks good. Put it on my wishlist. Also, your thoughts about cross ref is helpful Thanks:)

                        2. re: AmyH

                          He's been on Rachel at least once that I saw and I adored him. Will definitely check this out.

                        3. re: luckyfatima

                          Luckyfatima, thanks for very insightful info and the link. I will check it out. I think I will use a pressure cookers mostly for beans and grains as you do.

                          1. re: hobbybaker

                            Yes, one other tip: the low and slow advice of other posters here is very good. A recipe may say "give three whistles" but I start out with a high flame and after the first whistle, use a slow flame and give 8 whistles, not 3, for the same thing so that the beans remain whole, do not become mushy, and their skins do not burst open (say for rajma or chickpeas or something).

                      2. Hi Hobbybaker:
                        Like most desis, I use my pc almost daily: mostly for dals.

                        Like LuckyF, I find that cooking veggies in the pc turns them to mush, and you can't follow most veggie side dish recipes with the pc. For veggies, I too mostly quick-boil potatoes.
                        For the same reason, I never make rice in the pc: it just mushes up.

                        Unlike LuckyF, I make all kinds of split dals in the pc. I adjust the cooking time based on the type of dal. Especially for longer cooking dals (e.g. toor dal), the pc is a godsend. Even shorter cooking dals (in my experience) come out very well.

                        For whole beans of course (red beans, chick peas, BEP, etc etc etc) I cannot do without the pc.

                        In addition to the recipes most others have mentioned, the pc is the BEST for homemade hummus. I even just puree it all in the pc when done, using my immersion blender.

                        Here's a link talking about the whistles on pcs:
                        I think there are other interesting sections on her site.

                        But the cookbook that came with my (3 yo) Hawkins doesn't mention whistles at all, and talks about turning the heat down after the pc comes to full pressure, and then gives cooking times after that. It has sections on regional Indian and "international" dishes. If you have specific requests I can pm recipes to you.
                        So the whistle thing is very old school and was always rather unscientific. I mean once you've got full pressure, it's counterproductive to keep high heat and have steam venting periodically like that.
                        Growing up at home in India I remember my engineer / scientist parents never going by the whistle thing, but always turning the heat down after full pressure and cooking on low heat after that.

                        With the weight off / steam vent open, the pc is a great pot to steam idlis, dhoklas, or dumplings, etc.

                        I think the pc is highly under-appreciated in the West, and in today's world where energy efficiency is more important than ever, I am glad you are seeking this out.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Rasam

                          Hi, rasam- Thank you for your advice and the link. I have not yet decided about which p/c. I feel I need a smaller stainless steel one as we are only two and I will use it mostly for grains and beans. I need to think about which one is better, hawkins or other western companies. I checked the recipes at Hawkins' website, which Paul told me, and notice that nothing is mentioned about whisles at all, as you mentioned. Probably, the recipes on the website are very similar (or the same) to the ones in the cookbook with your p/c but thank you for your kind thought to me:) Many indian foods at our Indian friend's dinner parties really impressed me, and now I want to try to cook them by myself. There are a couple of good indian groceries closely, so I believe if I am serious enough and well equipped, I should make it:) Indian food must be healthier than other foods if I pay attention to well control fat, I guess:) I agree with you on energy issue. I heavily use my dutch oven especially in winter. Some recipes require 2-3 hours in the oven to simmer. I somethimes wonder there must be other ways to cook those meals:)

                          1. re: hobbybaker

                            hb: Presto is an American designed brand, made now in China. They've been around a long time and seem to have good parts availability.
                            I have this 8 quart s/s model: http://www.gopresto.com/products/prod... I wanted a large one in order to cook big pieces of pork shoulder.
                            Being stainless steel, I consider it easy to clean. Food seems to stay closer to the bottom. After the food is cooked and removed, refill with 1/2 inch of water, close the lid and heat until first steam - almost self cleaning :-).
                            Pressure cookers are much safer than they used to be. Most p/c sites recommend that you discard old aluminum cookers with the single valve.

                            1. re: DiveFan

                              On the issue of safety features, safety valves have been around for a long time. On Prestos this takes the form of a rubber plug in the lid. On Fagors there is a opening in the lid rim, allowing the main gasket to bulge out. Both are meant to release pressure if the main pressure control gets blocked. The Fagor design might be superior because the steam is released horizontally rather than vertically.

                              Sometime in the late 70s Presto added an interlock that keeps you from opening the lid under pressure. Fagor has an interlock built into its pressure indicator. The Hawkins lid, by the very nature of how it is secured, cannot be opened under pressure.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Paul, which one do you recommend? As you have three from different companies. You might know all pros and cons:) We are two and use it mainly for rice and grains initially. I do not know if I want to use it for meat. It is a good question, but I think around 3.0 qt is enough.

                              2. re: DiveFan

                                they want you to buy new ones, of course they are recommending discarding the old!

                                My parents have been using the same aluminum presto cooker since the 50s with no problem. I think it depends largely on what you cook - they cook mostly vegetables rather than beans, etc. which could clog, and they are generally careful folks. Aluminum is fine, with good heat distribution. Im not sure stainless steel is an improvement though a coating of the inner surface is nice.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  Yes, I completely agree about makers wanting you to discard your old pressure cookers and buy new! I have an old aluminum Presto cooker acquired at a thrift shop; it looks identical to the one my parents have used for more than 35 years. I use it for beans all the time and never once had a problem with foam or anything else for that matter.

                                2. re: DiveFan

                                  I asked for a pressure cooker after my first trip to Mexico in 1964 (I was 18 at the time). My Dad got one for me -- it was a Presto. I used it for 30 years (until my 2nd husband broke the handle and dumped it instead of saying something to me!!!) and it performed admirably. Never a bad dinner out of that thing. I've had an electric one, which I loved, living in an RV -- but didn't like the nonstick coating problem. So I bought a new SS one from Spain and am in love with it. The short handles are perfect for storage in an RV. And SS is easy to clean and maintain.

                              3. re: Rasam

                                Could the whistle thing been more significant when cooking over wood or charcoal fires, where it would be harder to turn the heat down once it's up to pressure?

                                And kitchens without clocks?

                                1. re: Rasam

                                  Yes, I mainly make toor dal and I have to say that before my pressure cooker it would literally be hours and even then sometimes it wasn't quite "right."

                                  Now i can cook up my toor dal in a jiffy.

                                  And I wouldn't cook plain veggies in it, but indian style veggies, which are often cooked for a long time, I think can be successfully done in a PC. I've had delicious ones cooked in a PC but have yet to figure out how to do it myself.