Pressure cookers from India are often a mystery for people in other countries. They look like traditional stove top pressure cookers, but they make strange noises and the folks who use them really love them. So what makes Indian pressure cookers so special, and so loved? [easyazon_link keywords=”indian pressure cooker” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]See some on Amazon[/easyazon_link].
The Advent of Pressure Cookers in India: Welcomed with Open Arms
[easyazon_infoblock align=”left” identifier=”B002TG3TLU” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Indian food consists of curries, sauces, beans, rice (dedicated rice cookers aren’t as common in India as they are in Asian countries, like Korea, so pressure cookers are used for rice when in a hurry), and meats. Some of those ingredients can take a long time to cook when using traditional cooking methods. Tougher cuts of meat could require an entire day of cooking, which burns a lot of energy and really heats up the entire house. So the advent of the pressure cooker was a huge boon for Indian cooks, whether they cooked at home for their families or in restaurants for large groups of people.
The Anatomy of the Indian Pressure Cooker
These pressure cookers are often made from stainless steel or aluminum and the base is often a sandwich of these metals. As such, the base is sturdy and strong. The lid forms a seal with the base via a gasket which may occasionally need replacing, especially if you keep your pressure cooker for a few decades. The lid has a separate weight that the user puts onto the valve once the pressure cooker comes up to the right pressure. The weight serves as a release for the pressure cooker and most spin when releasing steam. Indian cookers are exclusively stove top; as far as we can see there are no Indian electric pressure cookers.
But Why Does it Whistle?
Unlike other pressure cookers on the market, Indian ones whistle. The whistle happens as the cooker releases steam at various intervals. Indian cooks grow up learning recipes by the number of whistles that the cooker has sounded. You might see recipes telling you to “cook for 3 whistles” or “cook for 1 whistle.” The pressure cooker builds up pressure and then releases one long whistle. Starting from that first whistle, the food is cooking.
Safety with Indian Pressure Cookers
[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”358″ identifier=”B00EICFZ2E” locale=”US” src=”http://ricecookergoodness.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/41alFiRm7oL1.jpg” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″ width=”500″]One of the biggest complaints with any type of pressure cooker is that of safety. As with most pressure cookers, early models of Indian versions weren’t always manufactured to the highest standards. Today, however, they go through stringent quality assurance testing and are just as safe as any other pressure cookers on the market. If used improperly, however, they can malfunction just like any other pressure cooker available. The key is to be patient. Let the pressure release on its own and don’t rush the process.
Don’t be afraid to try Indian-style pressure cookers. They might just teach you a few things about not having to watch a clock. Pretty soon you might find yourself timing every recipe by the number of whistles your pressure cooker has sounded which happily eliminates the need for one more kitchen accessory.