Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Use a Pressure Cooker

As a kid, I used to be afraid of the pressure cooker whenever my mum would use it. It would sit over a flame on the stove, making the most ridiculous noises while this 'whistle' like thing would be jiggling away on the top spurting out steam in the process. I mean - really it was scary. It was worse than a hot oven, or a pot of boiling water, this was insanity.

So as a result I developed a Pressure Cooker phobia. Of course I could just choose not to use one - ever. But I wanted to know how to use one. I wanted to get over my fear. And I'm glad I did.

My most successful dish using a pressure cooker was the recent mutton varuval I made. Thus I was inspired to do this post because I realised that really pressure cooking is not that scary as my head made it out to be. After endless Google searches on 'How to use pressure cooker' I was bold enough to begin my journey. And now I'm hoping to help others who are afraid to make the step.

First of all - let me show you my pressure cooker. It was a gift from my parents-in-law and I love it. It doesn't have the traditional 'whistle' thing which most pressure cookers from India have. This is a slightly more 'westernised' version.


If you're still not a pro at using it (like I am) be sure the manual is next to you on the kitchen counter.

A couple of things to note before you begin. On the heavy lid of the pressure cooker, you will notice three things namely the Indicator Rod, the Push Plate and the Pressure Regulator.

 The Indicator Rod is to let you know when there is pressure building up in the cooker. The rod will rise up to showcase this.

The push plate is how you open and close the lid. Always remember, the lid can only be opened once the pressure inside is completely released.


This here is the Pressure Regulator. To pressure cook the mutton I used the setting 'H' which indicates high pressure level. When cooking seafood and fish, the setting 'L' may be used.
How to pressure cook mutton to make Mutton Varuval

Step 1
I cooked about 1kg of mutton on that day which I marinated before hand. After putting it into the pressure cooker, I added about half a cup of water. It might seem like very little water but it is enough.



Step 2
I closed the lid - using the push plate to tightly secure the lid and put the pressure cooker on a medium flame. After a few minutes, there will be some 'noise' emitting from the cooker. Do not be alarmed. Also, there will be some steam escaping steadily from the vent pipe. This will go on until the end of the cooking time.

Step 3
After a few minutes, the (red) Indicator Rod will go up. This indicates that pressure inside is building.  This is when you should lower the flame slightly and start the cooking time. For 1kg mutton the cooking time was about 15 minutes.

Note: During the entire cooking time of 15 minutes you do not have to do anything. Just allow the pressure cooker to be on the stove making noises and spurting steam.

Step 4
After the end of the cooking time, I switch off the flame. Then I choose the 'Steam Release' setting on the pressure regulator and all the steam inside gets flushed out rapidly. Once there is no longer any steam inside the cooker, the Indicator Rod goes down. This is when I know it's safe to open the lid.

Step 5
Remove contents.

Random:
It is very important to clean your pressure cooker thoroughly after each cooking process.
Never use your pressure cooker without adding liquids as this could result in damaging the pressure cooker by overheating.


That's it! The PC is now my friend. I hope to make more dishes using the cooker.

7 comments:

daphne said...

What a good guide to using pressure cooker! I dont have one yet but it is so tempting esp looking at all the tender meat that can be cooked with it. This is a perfect dish for cold weather as well!

The Experimental Cook said...

I was also very wary of the pressure pot and refuse anybody into the kitchen when it is in use. Knowing how it works definitely helps to cope with a special device like this.

The Sudden Cook said...

Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by. The PC has many uses looking forward to using it more often.

sheila said...

Remember this...
http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2007/4/22/lifeliving/16716895&sec=lifeliving

The Sudden Cook said...

Sheila billa - oh yes I remember! Haha - learnt so many recipes since then.

Wanda said...

So that's how its done! Nice one.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the article. May I ask what brand is yr pressure cooker? And size?
Zoe

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