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Pressure Cooker Whistles in Indian Recipes

Many Indian recipes indicate cooking time in a pressure cooker as "two whistles" or "three whistles". How does that translate into minutes, or is it variable depending upon what's in the cooker? I have a recipe for goat curry that calls for 4 whistles. Does anyone have any idea how long that would be? What we have is cubed, bone in, tough, old Halal goat, but it will have been marinated overnight. When we tried to cook it on the stovetop once, it took over two hours. And, is it crazy to try to cook 5 lbs of this goat meat in a Tramontina 6.3 qt pressure cooker? Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Thank you.

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  1. The best way to translate Indian pressure cooker whistles is to not do it.

    What you should do, instead, is look-up the cooking time of the main ingredient in the manual for YOUR pressure cooker.

    According to my online pressure cooking time table, pressure cooked goat in a modern non-whistling pressure just needs just 15 to 20 minutes at high pressure with natural release.



    1. Indian pressure cookers intermittently release steam, also known as whistles. Does your pressure cooker do that?
      If not, once the cooker has reached maximum pressure, lower the temperature and cook for about 10 minutes or so. Check for doneness after the pressure dies down, and repeat as necessary to get desired stage of doneness.

      1. you got suggestions about whistles below. Regarding the amount of goat, you will just have to see how far the goat and the cooking liquid fill up the cooker vessel. Your cooker should have instructions about how high to fill for the thing to work properly (usually you can find online if you lost yours) or you can use the generic instructions online.

        "Miss Vickie" says not to fill over 2/3 generally or 1/2 if there is likely to be froth or foam (which is the case with meat broth). Enjoy!

        1. Get the pressure cooker up to pressure, then cook about three minutes for every whistle the recipe calls for.

          1 Reply
          1. re: luckykobold

            Thanks very much. This is exactly the kind of general formula I was looking for.

          2. I've found that tough goat takes about 35 minutes in a pressure cooker for it to reach the falling-apart point.

            I'll defer to the others for the three minutes per whistle bit. I had no idea and also needed to know. :)

            2 Replies
            1. re: LMAshton

              Thanks, LMashton, I think you're exactly right. I ended up finding this out the hard way -- cooking the goat 8 minutes at a time, cooling, opening, discovering it's still not done. Couldn't believe ANYTHING short of an old shoe could take that long to cook in a pressure cooker.

              1. re: ninrn

                Heh. Yeah, old shoe indeed. :P

                I started at 25 or 30 and it still wasn't tender enough, so did it for longer. If I want it to pretty much dissolve, I do it for 40 minutes. Still, it works great for cheap tough meat. :)

                I should mention, though, that I do this on an induction cooker, which heats up very very fast compared to electric or gas cookers, so you might want to subtract up to 5 minutes when you do yours the non-interrupted method next time. Also, I always let it slow release. Fast release apparently makes the meat tougher - tightens the tendons or something.

            2. This has a bit of info on the whistling type of pressure cookers:


              5 Replies
              1. re: hankstramm

                This is very helpful. Thank you. Bookmarking it right now.

                1. re: hankstramm

                  But you don't have to count whistles when using an Indian pressure cooker. In fact the instruction book for my little Hawkins discourages the use of 'whistles'.

                  The weight is similar to a American Presto weight, except that it fits over over the vent tube with a light ballbearing catch. The catch lets it rise up a bit to release pressure.

                  The whistle is equivalent to letting a Presto weight rock vigorously, or letting a Fagor vent around the rim. It is the result of leaving the heat too high once it is up to pressure.

                  If you don't have a time in the kitchen, then counting whistles is a way of timing the cooking. But Hawkins would rather you reduced heat once it is up to pressure, just like other brands.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Which makes sense.

                    My Sri Lankan mother in law does NOT reduce pressure once it's up to pressure. I do. I figure not doing so is a waste of energy. She does it her way because that's how she's always done it. I wouldn't be surprised if that's how she tracks timing, too, but I haven't asked...

                    1. re: paulj

                      @ paulj -- It's just that many Indian cookbooks and posts on the Internet describe pressure cooking time only in terms of number of whistles. That's why I was asking how to convert an instruction like "pressure cook for three whistles" into minutes.

                      1. re: ninrn

                        Another rule of thumb is to use 1/3 of the no-pressure cooking time. I.e. meat that takes a hour and half without pressure might be done in half an hour with. Exact conversion is seldom necessary. Ingredients can also vary. For example ancient tough-as-shoe-leather goat is not likely to be a problem in the USA.

                        And since 'whistling' depends on the cooker coming back up to pressure, the time will vary with the stove output. A more powerful stove will bring it back to pressure faster.

                        Probably a better way of estimating time is to look at other recipes that use similar ingredients (esp. the meat cut into similar size pieces). Chicken stew using whole pieces is going to take the same time regardless of whether it is seasoned Italian style or Indian style.

                  2. How about cooking without the weight? I thought you were always supposed to use the weight, but I saw a recipe the other day that involved not using the weight.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: willownt

                      Cooking without the weight just steams the food. Which may be fine if making something like idli. A pressure cooker is a nice deep pot that can accommodate several stacks of idli trays.


                      1. re: paulj

                        Thanks for your reply. Actually the recipe was for chicken biryani! The author is very specific that this is a pressure cooker recipe, but then says not to use the weight.


                        1. re: willownt

                          Here the PC is just functioning as a lidded sauce pan.