Ordinary open-pot cooking is done at the boiling point of water which produces steam at sea level at 100ºC (212ºF). Pressure cooking works by sealing the steam in a pot so that there is a rise in pressure to a safe, controlled extent which raises the boiling point of water and therefore the cooking temperature. Generally good quality pressure cookers in India are rated to cook food at 121ºC (250ºF) at a pressure of 15 pounds per square inch (1 kg per square cm). The steam permeates through the food, tenderizing it, infusing it with flavour, preserving nutrients, colour, texture and juices and cooking much faster.
• Faster Cooking: Good pressure cookers reduce the normal cooking times by as much as half, thereby saving upto 53% time as compared to open pot cooking.
• Fuel Saving, Money Saving: Because food cooks faster in a pressure cooker, you save fuel and therefore money.
• More Healthful: Pressure cooking is healthy – scientific literature indicates that certain nutritive elements such as vitamins and proteins are better retained during pressure cooking, thereby giving more nourishing food than ordinary cooking.
• Improves Taste: The quick but gentle cooking in superheated steam best evokes natural flavours from the food and the closed cooking impregnates food with juices and aromas which could be lost in open pot cooking.
• More Hygienic: The higher temperature in pressure cooking (121ºC) destroys some of those harmful bacteria as well, that are not destroyed during ordinary boiling at 100ºC in open pot cooking, which renders the food very hygienic.
• The Pressure Cooker as a Steriliser: Because of the high temperature of 121ºC at which the cooker operates which is also the temperature recommended for sterilisation, the pressure cooker can be used as a steriliser for bandages, feeding bottles, injections, syringes etc. to make them germ-free.
Please see an overview at Trial Run Before Cooking Click Here . For complete instructions, please follow carefully the instructions given in the cookbook or instruction manual that generally accompanies the product that you have, or contact the manufacturer.
Counting whistles may give you the wrong time for cooking any particular food or recipe. As a result, food may not get properly cooked, and there are chances of water drying up and food burning, and/or safety valve fusing. Start timing recipes when the pressure cooker reaches full operating pressure. Use a kitchen timer or watch/clock – precise timing is critical to successful pressure cooking, which is much faster than conventional cooking so timing errors have greater consequences.
This behavior may vary across different makes and models of pressure cookers. Generally speaking, after the pressure regulator is placed on the steam vent, there is at first a very low hissing sound of steam from the pressure regulator. Then steam emission increases to full force and the pressure regulator lifts with a whistling sound. The cooker is now at full operating pressure. This is the point at which to reduce heat and start timing the recipe.
Cooking capacity in a pressure cooker is less than its full volume. The pressure cooker body should never be filled more than two-thirds its capacity. This is to safeguard against blocking the steam vent/vent tube and to leave enough space to allow steam to circulate. Certain foods, however, such as soups and other liquid foods, foods such as lentils and rice which expand during cooking should not be loaded more than half the capacity of the cooker body. Dals which sprout, such as tuvar and moong, should not be loaded more than one-third the capacity of the cooker.
Certain foods, such as applesauce, cranberries, pearl barley, oatmeal or other cereals, split peas, noodles, macaroni, rhubarb or spaghetti can foam, froth and sputter, and clog the pressure release device (steam vent). These foods should not be cooked in a pressure cooker. Cooking moong dal is not recommended in pressure cookers of capacity 3 Litre or lesser, as it is prone to excessive frothing and sprouting.
All reputable pressure cooker manufacturers recommend that the pressure cooker be filled no more than two-thirds. This is because space is required for steam. Further, filling the pressure cooker beyond its recommended level increases the chance of food clogging the steam vent. The maximum quantities of food indicated are after allowing for this one-third empty space required in the cooker. You hence do not lose any usable capacity by having an inside-fitting lid. In fact, if you were to overload the cooker by mistake, the lid may not go in, and that may remind you to reduce the food to the recommended level – an additional safety feature!
It is a safety requirement that you always check that the steam vent / vent tube is clear immediately before closing the lid for pressure cooking. You will be able to clean out any unwanted particles that may inadvertently been left inside the vent tube after cleaning. The additional benefits are that the safety valve in good quality pressure cookers tends to function in a more precise range with the proper venting of air inside the pressure cooker, and the food cooks in pure steam.
Yes - there are three methods to release pressure in the pressure cooker:
Allow to cool naturally: means to remove the cooker from the heat and leave it until the pressure has dropped to normal and the lid can be opened. This takes from about 10 to 20 minutes. This method is required for soups, legumes, recipes containing leavening agents and custards. Some cooks believe that the texture, tenderness and taste of food, especially meat, are improved by allowing to cool naturally whenever possible.
Release pressure with slight lifting of pressure regulator: means to lift the pressure regulator slightly with a fork and allow steam to escape so the lid can be opened immediately (in the case of the Futura pressure cooker with its unique design of pressure regulator, press the finger-tip control lightly to release steam). This method is required for delicate vegetables and fish that may get quickly overcooked. This method should not be used for predominantly liquid foods, as the food/liquid may come out of the steam vent.
Release pressure by placing cooker in about 4 inches/10 cm of cold water in a basin or in a sink for 2 minutes: Open when the pressure has fallen. Do not run water over the lid. This method is required when the cooker contains liquid or frothing foods and you wish to open immediately.
Changing the method will have a bearing on the pressure cooking time. If you change from immediate opening to cooling naturally, reduce pressure cooking time by 2 to 3 minutes. Likewise, if you change from cooling naturally to immediate opening, increase pressure cooking time by 2 to 3 minutes.
The correct heat setting to maintain pressure on reduced heat will vary with the model of pressure cooker, the type and quantity of food and also your stove. A little practice will make clear the correct heat setting and adjustments, if any, that may be required. For example, when cooking in the Hawkins pressure cooker, if the cooker whistles too frequently (more than 4 whistles per minute), reduce the heat still further. If there is no steam coming out of the vent weight for a few minutes, increase the heat gradually until the steam comes out. Please remember that, particularly on electric hot plates, it may take some time for heat level adjustments to have an effect on the frequency of whistles.
Tastes are so individual that it is hard to generalise. However, most people who know pressure cooking agree that pressure cooking produces not only a time saving but a taste advantage in the case of many foods. For example, stocks and most soups; stews and casseroles; all kinds of beans and lentils; vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, corn on the cob, beets, carrots and asparagus; many types of fish and poultry; and custards and puddings. You should try out some of them for yourself!
Yes, very probably. First, get familiar with the manufacturer’s guidelines for some of the recipes in the cookbook provided along with the pressure cooker. Once you are familiar with how to properly use your pressure cooker, you may then try and adapt your own recipe, bearing in mind the amount of cooking liquid, the cooking times, the manufacturer’s important safeguards and the method of cooling the cooker. You must have enough cooking liquid (such as water, or stock, juice, vinegar, beer or wine) in the pressure cooker to make steam throughout the entire pressure cooking time and to prevent burning
Different Pressure cookers are designed to work on different heat sources – such as domestic gas, kerosene stoves, induction, electric, ceramic and halogen cooktops. Look for the manufacturer’s instructions on which cooktops your pressure cooker is suitable for.
Use a burner/hob to suit the size of the cooker - gas flames should not lick the sides of the cooker. 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. On improvised fires or commercial burners, limit the heat to the level usually found in domestic stoves. Pressure cookers for domestic use should not be used on an industrial burner unless the manufacturer’s instructions specifically state that they do.
It is a safety requirement that deep-frying, involving more than ½ cup oil or frying for more than 20 minutes at a time, is not done in the pressure cooker body of an aluminium or anodised aluminium pressure cooker. This is because the high temperatures reached while deep-frying can weaken the aluminium over time, and hence may make the pressure cooker unfit for subsequent use. You may deep-fry for longer periods in a Stainless Steel pressure cooker.
Do not pressure-fry in the pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are designed to be operated only with cooking liquid that produces steam liquid (such as water, or stock, juice, vinegar, beer or wine). Oils and fats do not produce steam and should not be counted as cooking liquid for steam. Cooking liquid should always be water or a liquid which produces steam.
There is some ‘play’ deliberately provided for in the lid handle of some pressure cookers, as it assists in centralising the lid over the mouth of the cooker body and helps in proper sealing of the cooker.
You can minimize the chances of dal sprouting and dirtying your cooker, cooktop and kitchen counter by following some simple steps:
1. Use the right burner – use a small burner (or, if not available) medium or low heat of a large burner, when cooking in a small pressure cookers such as 1.5, 2 or 3 Litre. Ensure that the flames do not lick the sides of the pressure cooker – only heat the base.
2. Do not fill the pressure cooker (dal and water combined) to more than 1/3 full. Do not exceed dal and water quantities and cooking times given in the cookbooks.
3. Do soak dal (in enough water to cover dal) for 15 minutes before pressure cooking. Add 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ tsp turmeric and 1 tsp vegetable oil per cup of dal, to dal and water in pressure cooker before closing the lid.
4. Do reduce heat to medium as soon as the pressure cooker reaches full operating pressure.
5. Do not release pressure by lifting the pressure regulator (sudden pressure release may cause sprouting). Allow the pressure cooker to cool naturally first. The dal will continue cooking inside as the pressure gently falls, and you will also save more fuel!
1. If there is less water, there are chances that the cooker will ‘boil dry’ (that is, the liquid will not be sufficient for the required cooking time, and the cooker will dry up inside). In such a situation, the temperature and pressure inside the cooker rise and cause the safety valve to fuse.
2. When the vent tube is blocked, there is no outlet for steam, thus the pressure inside increases beyond the normal level, and cause the safety valve to fuse.
3. If cooker is used on a larger flame than required such as if a 2 or 3 Litre cooker with a small base is used on a high heat of a large burner of a gas stove, the flames will lick and climb the sides of the cooker, thereby overheating the cooker and causing the safety valve to fuse.
4. Continuing to cook on high heat and not reducing heat after cooker reaches full operating pressure also increases the chances of ‘boil dry’, which may cause the safety valve to fuse.
Cause: Natural salts contained in water may stain the cooker at times. This staining is neither injurious to health nor is it likely to affect taste and quality of food.
Solution: Pour water into the cooker upto the level the marks. Add two teaspoons of fresh lime juice. Place cooker on heat and pressure-boil for 30 minutes (that is, 30 minutes after the first whistle). Then wash thoroughly. See a video of how this is done here Click Here.
Handwash is recommended. Do not wash the pressure cooker or any of its parts in a dishwasher. Dishwashing is likely to tarnish your cooker body over time.
If the pressure cooker is not cleaned thoroughly after each use, a thin layer of food or grease may remain. When the cooker is heated next, this food/grease becomes baked-on and very difficult to remove. Avoid baked-on fat or gravy stains; wipe off any fat or gravy on cooker base before placing on hot stove. Ensure stove surface in contact with pressure cooker is free of fat drippings.
If you do get baked-on stains on the base, tackle them while they are still fresh. Soak in hot water. Make a thick paste of a chlorine-based kitchen cleanser (for SS cookers, use an SS cleaner which is non-chlorine based) and apply it to the surface. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, then scour with a plastic or similar suitable scrubber using a circular motion. Do not use abrasive powders or bleach. For stubborn spots, a fine soap-impregnated steel wool pad may be used sparingly, knowing that the cooker surface may get damaged. Wash and wipe dry. If food is stuck to the cooker, remove with a plastic scrubber and a non-abrasive cleanser or an aluminium/SS cleanser as the case may be. If food is badly stuck or burned: pour into cooker enough water (not above half full) to cover the area of burned food. Close cooker. Bring to full pressure on high heat. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes. Allow to cool naturally. Open cooker. Wash and wipe dry. View a demo of how to remove baked-on stains by a similar process on a tava here Click Here.
With use, the cooker body and lid of some aluminum cookers may lose their shine. This loss of shine is the normal behavior of the metal over time and will not affect the functioning of your cooker.
According to our studies it takes an average of 53% less time to cook in a pressure cooker when compared to conventional open pot cooking. The longer an item takes to cook, the greater is the time saved through pressure cooking.
The chart below gives examples of five basic foods of an average Indian home and the time saved when they are cooked in a 5 Litre pressure cooker with maximum recommended quantities:
This benefit extends to other cereals, pulses, vegetables and meats as well. You can see more information on this in this website here Click Here.
Banging the rim of the cooker body causes nick marks on the rim. Over a period of time these may affect the sealing of cooker; that is, there may be leakage, as a result of which the pressure cooker may take longer to come to pressure or may not come to pressure.
The pressure cooker should never be used as an oven for dry heating or baking as it reduces the strength of the metal.

Issued in the public interest by Hawkins Cookers Limited
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