Why do I still not use a pressure cooker?

It might be because you have heard a horror story about old-fashioned pressure cookers. Trust me pressure cookers today are very different from those outdated aluminum models, and are perfectly safe to use as long as instructions are followed.

I am on a mission to make people around me to think differently about this kitchen equipment that can save both time and money. I know all of us understand the need and importance of green cooking, smart energy saving and cutting our carbon footprint on this beloved planet.

Consider the fact that pressure cooking saves 70% or more energy than conventional methods of cooking. YOU can make a positive difference to the environment and also save considerable cooking time by switching to this method. So, take this small step to help save earth. Watch how easy it is to use one.

I have seen people scared to death with the idea of using a pressure cooker. Often it is the fear of high pressures and accidentally blowing a hole through the kitchen ceiling. For others it may be the sound, which can seem similar to a jet taking off. Or then it might be the geysers of steam shooting out of this contraption that make people uncomfortable .

Despite these seemingly frightening aspects of the pressure cooker, it is an easy to use and effective piece of equipment, and with the right instruction you can definitely get over your “exploding disaster” fears!

Facts about Pressure Cookers:

  1. Modern pressure cookers are all about the safety features, which include a top that locks on securely, a pressure indicator, and a safety pressure release valve.
  2. In terms of steam heat, it is hot, but quickly cools.  It is not as dangerous as cooking something with grease.
  3. Ways of releasing the pressure
    1. Quick release
    2. Running water
    3. Natural release

To get over the fear.

  1. Choose the right model for you. Stove or electric, loud whistle or no whistle.
  2. Read a reliable pressure cooker cookbook that will help you get over some of your safety fears.
  3. Take notes on cooking times, so that you’ll know what to adjust next time.
  4. Take time to get a feel for how it works. Every stove is a little bit different, and every pot is a little bit different, too. There’s a bit of a learning curve. You will soon discover how wonderful it is for cooking things.

What not to do:

  1. Do not add too much liquid -Don’t cook foods that “foam” and don’t fill it more than half way.  Then, don’t worry about it.(the pressure cooker has a very low evaporation rate-about one tablespoon per 10 minutes of cooking vs one cup of evaporation in an uncovered pot). This can be easily fixed by decreasing the cooking liquid significantly. You can even go as low as your cooker’s minimum requirement (which is usually a cup) – check your manual to make sure.
  2. Do not over-cook. The pressure cooker infuses flavours up to a point, after that point the food is over-cooked and the meat becomes tough and tasteless because all of the juices have been squeezed into the cooking liquid – making a delicious stock (if there wasn’t too much water ; )
  3. Do not ignore the manual or do anything they say NOT to do.

Practice by just boiling water until you get the hang of it.  In general, once it starts releasing pressure on its own, just turn it down and “cruise” from there.

Safety features pressure cookers already have

  1. If the top is put wrong – it won’t reach pressure. If you do get it on and do not turn down the heat right away, the valve will release the extra pressure and will activate. If this value is accidentally blocked, a secondary valve (usually a little silicone or rubber stopper) will kick-in. Should THAT fail, the gasket (silicone or rubber circle that seals) will buckle and THAT will release pressure – I have never gotten to that stage but at that point it can get messy and may spray food on your cook top but not the ceiling.
  2. A self-locking handle keeps you from accidentally opening the pressure cooker while the contents are still under pressure.

I hope you consider pressure cooking – not just for the speed but for the flavour, the health benefits and the planet (it’s ridiculous how little energy it needs to operate). I’ll gladly help you navigate the process of getting acquainted with your pressure cooker – just make the decision to buy one!

Meals that can be made in minutes take the pressure off of home cooks who want to make good food but may be pressed for time.

 

How to use a Pressure Cooker?

After the required number of whistles, the stove should be turned off. Once the heat is off, all the steam releases naturally in 5-10 minutes. This is the best way of cooking as it retains all flavours and nutrients. However, steam can also be quick released by using the steam release valve or by gently lifting the whistle (depends on the model of cooker and instructions that came with it). Check out my video to see how steam can be released early before its usual time.

In general, perform these safety checks and you will be good to go:
1. Check to make sure there are no dents or cracks in your pressure cooker or the rubber gasket before using it.
2. There must always be some sort of liquid in your pressure cooker before you close the lid.
3. The pressure cooker should never be more than ⅔ full as there needs to be room for the steam to accumulate.
4. Never try to force open the lid of the pressure cooker when there is steam inside. You can get seriously burnt.
5. Even when it is safe to open the lid, lift the lid away from your face, as the contents will be steaming hot.
6. All pressure cookers have a quick release valve/system. Follow the instructions to make sure you are doing it correctly.

Which Pressure Cooker to buy?

A few quick buying tips:

  1. Go with a spring valve for quieter more efficient operation or finger-tip pressure release that prevents clogging of the steam vent.
  2. You can also go for one with two pressure levels (High and Low) to keep you from pulverizing fish and veggies while you’re infusing them with great flavour
  3. I prefer the black hard anodized stovetop model over the electric one. Particularly because it makes the pressure cooker absorb heat faster making it more energy-efficient. And the pressure cooker stays looking new for years.
  4. Start with a 5-6L (that is the most versatile size) but if you can afford it get a set that uses the same pressure cooking top with a smaller 3-4L pan (for making side dishes, rice for one, pasta sauces, etc).

Are high-end pressure cookers worth the money?

Yes, and no. You get what you pay for and if you pay a lot you get a lot of hard anodized metal, stainless steel, bells & whistles and accessories. This extra metal retains heat like you wouldn’t believe and needs less energy to operate and makes things stick a little less.

No, in the sense that all that extra metal takes a few minutes less to reach pressure. And, as for extra accessories for extra money like a steaming pan,  you might already have it in your kitchen. The end the result is the same: pressure cooked food. Do not let budget get in the way of getting your first pressure cooker!

Missing Battery!

This is an anecdote that amuses us every time we recollect our memories and talk about it with family or friends.

On a bright morning in Accra, as Manoj was about to leave for work the office car, a Toyota RAV4, would not start. There was no ignition sound other than a dead click. Manoj thought that the battery may be dead. He opened the engine hood and to his shock found that there was no battery in the car, even the cables connecting the battery to the circuits were gone. In a private house where the car was parked inside the compound that is guarded 24 hours, this sounded outrageous. The guard on duty was summoned and enquires started. We had been ignoring earlier instances of minor things missing from the compound but now Manoj decided to report it to the police as well as the security company. So, within an hour of this, a police complaint was made and supervisors from the security company got busy starting the enquiry. Both the police and the investigating officer from the security company took photos of the crime scene. Meanwhile Manoj requested the office admin to get a new battery and send another car with a jumper cable to drive him to work. Coincidentally the other car that was sent was also a RAV4 of the exact same model year. Manoj enthusiastically called for the guards to show them the battery in this car and how it was connected to the cables. As he opened the engine hood to look at…voila..there was no battery in this car too…and this was the car that had just driven in through the gate. You can imagine his dismay, what would it have been like.. the first reaction was – how is this possible?? In no time we found out  that the battery was hidden behind a panel as a part of engine design. It was hilarious and dumbfounding at the same time..how could we have missed seeing the battery. After realizing our mistake all we did was laughed and laughed and this became one of the most interesting stories of our time in Ghana. A full round of apologies were made to the guards, security company officials, police and the office staff for creating the confusion.

Colourful Beet Dip-दही गुलाबो चटनी

Calorie wise nutritious home made spread 
Gluten Free, quick to make 
Packed with Minerals, Vitamins and Antioxidants
Ingredients:
500 grams greek yogurt
One small beet root
1 teaspoon salt
1spring onion chopped small
2 inch frozen crushed green chilli (optional)
2 cloves of crushed garlic fresh or frozen
Preparation:
If you do not use greek yogurt, you will need to extract water from regular yogurt.For this put yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it for 1-2 hours for the water to drain out.
STEPS:
Step 1. Chop beetroot very small by hand or in a chopper and cook in microwave for 1 minute to make it tender.
Step 2. Add salt, beetroot, spring onion, frozen chopped garlic, and frozen crushed green chilli  to greek yogurt or block of yogurt.
Step 3. Mix everything thoroughly and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Handy Tips:IMG_2163

1. Beetroot yogurt dip can be served with baked naan bread, corn wafers,  crackers or thin savoury biscuits.
2. You can be as creative as you want to be , add other herbs like dill weed, rosemary, basil, mint, coriander or spices like red chilli pepper, black pepper.
2. You can also add finely chopped bell peppers, mushrooms or cucumber, going even further you could add bacon pieces.

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip-खीरा दही की सदाबहार चटनी

Gluten Free
Loaded with goodness of yogurt and coolness of cucumber
Quick to make  
Ingredients:
500 grams greek yogurt
One medium cucumber grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry dill weed or fresh chopped dill leaves
2 inch frozen crushed green chilli (optional)
25 grams of cut coriander leaves
2 cloves of crushed garlic fresh or frozen
Preparation:
If you do not use greek yogurt, you will need to extract water from regular yogurt.For this put yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it for 1-2 hours for the water to drain out.
STEPS:
Step 1. Grate cucumber and add 1/2 teaspoon salt to it, leave it for 5  minutes and then squeeze water out of it.
Step 2. Add salt, grated cucumber, dill, coriander leaves, garlic (fresh or frozen), and frozen crushed green chilli  to greek yogurt or block of yogurt.
Step 3. Mix everything thoroughly. Let it rest for some time or serve immediately.

Handy Tips:IMG_1598

1. This dip goes well as a spread for sandwiches, gyros, shawarma, as a dip with grilled veggies, meats, baked naan bread, corn wafers,  crackers or thin savoury biscuits.
2. You can be as creative as you want to be, add spring onion or other herbs like chives, rosemary, basil, mint, or spices like red chilli pepper, black pepper.

Spinach Pecan Yogurt Dip-दही पालक की चटनी

Healthy home made alternative to high calorie readymade dips
Gluten Free, quick to make and nutritious 
Ingredients:
500 grams greek yogurt
10 nuggets of frozen spinach or 200 grams of fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon salt
1 tea spoon of oil ( for sautéing spinach)
1 tablespoon of olive oil (optional)
30 grams of crushed pecans
1 tablespoon of seasoning of your choice
2 inch frozen crushed green chilli (optional)
2 cloves of crushed garlic fresh or frozen
Preparation:
If you do not use greek yogurt, you will need to extract water from regular yogurt.For this put yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it for 1-2 hours for the water to drain out.
STEPS:
Step 1. If frozen, thaw and cook spinach in microwave for 3-4 minutes and remove all water. Sauté spinach and garlic in  a pan.
Step 2. Add salt, sautéed spinach, seasoning, frozen crushed green chilli and pecans to greek yogurt or block of yogurt drained in muslin cloth.
Step 3. Mix everything thoroughly and add olive oil (optional).
Handy Tips:IMG_1488
1. Spinach yogurt dip can be served cold or warm (serve as you make it warm sautéed spinach or heat up in Microwave for 30 seconds) to go with baked naan bread, corn wafers,  crackers or thin savoury biscuits.
2. You can be as creative as you want to be , add spring onion or other herbs like dill weed, rosemary, basil, mint, coriander or spices like red chilli pepper, black pepper.
2. You can also add finely chopped bell peppers, mushrooms or cucumber.

Yogurt Dip Grilled Zucchini & Eggplant

SERVES: 2-3

GLUTEN FREE-Good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, plus potassium and fibre.

QUICK TO MAKE

COOKING TIME: 8-10 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 Zucchini
2 long eggplant
100 grams sliced mushrooms
1 big tomato chopped
50 grams grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
PREPARATION
Make diagonal cuts on zucchini and eggplant without letting them break.
STEPS
STEP 1. For pan cooking- Place zucchini and eggplant in 1 teaspoon of heated oil, sprinkle salt and red chilli powder. Add tomatoes and mushroom. Close the lid of pan to cook for 4-5 minutes on high flame.
For oven/grill cooking- Sprinkle salt and red chilli powder on zucchini and eggplant. Place on the baking tray/grill,  add tomatoes and mushroom. Grill/Bake for 10-12 minutes.
STEP 2. When zucchini and eggplant are tender, add dollops of yogurt dip, spring onion and cheese and let it grill/bake or broil( for pan cooked method) for 2-3 minutes.
STEP 3. Serve it with sweet potato fries smeared in yogurt dip and green coriander chutney.
HANDY TIPS:thumb_IMG_1400_1024
1. Using the pan method saves electric/fuel energy used in oven/grill and has reduced cooking time as it uses water from tomatoes to cook the veggies faster.
2. Be creative and throw in other veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato or turnips.

 

Avocado Chive Yogurt Dip- अवोकाड़ो दही का चक्का चटनी

thumb_IMG_1382_1024Gluten Free, quick and nutritious
Ingredients:
500 grams greek yogurt
1 ripe large avocado
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon all spice powder
10-12 strands of chives chopped
Preparation:
If you do not use greek yogurt, you will need to extract water from regular yogurt.For this put yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it for 1-2 hours for the water to drain out.
STEPS:
Step 1. Mash Avocado
Step 2. Add salt, mashed avocado, frozen crushed green chilli, chives, lemon juice and all spice powder to greek yogurt or block of yogurt in muslin cloth.
Step 3. Mix everything thoroughly and it is ready to enjoy.
AvocodoHandy Tips:
1. You can be as creative as you want to be , replace  chives with other herbs like spring onion, dill weed, rosemary, basil, mint, coriander or spices like red chilli pepper, black pepper.
2. You can also add finely chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms or cucumber.

Juicy Baked Pork Ribs in 40 minutes


GLUTEN FREE

REALLY QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

A similar conventional recipe takes 3-4 hours in oven or grill. Using Pressure Cooker will take 20-25 minutes on stove and 15 minutes of oven time. Meat comes out as tender as a marshmallow and falling off the bone.

You save: 90% of fuel energy and 3 hours of your precious time that you can spend doing something more productive with your loved ones.

SERVES: 2-3
PREPARATION TIME: 20 minutes
COOKING TIME: 35-40 Minutes

INGREDIENTS:

For Tenderizing and Marination
25 ml lemon or lime juice (one lime or lemon)
1 teaspoon salt
½ kilo Pork ribs/riblets
100 grams yogurt
50 gms frozen or fresh crushed ginger
50 gms frozen or fresh crushed garlic
2-3 finely chopped green chillies
1 tablespoon all spice

For Basting
50 ml barbecue sauce
20 ml thai sweet chilli sauce
20 ml Teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon oil

For Cooking Ribs
1 teaspoon oil
8-10 black pepper corns
2 bay leaves

For Side
½ kilo baby potatoes

PREPARATION:
Put lemon juice and salt on ribs to tenderize for 10 minutes
Add all marination ingredients to yogurt and smear it on ribs to marinate it for 10-15 minutes

COOKING STEPS:
STEP 1. Put black pepper corns and bay leaves in heated oil in pressure pan, and place marinated ribs to cook on slow heat for 20-25 minutes..
STEP 2. Open cooker lid when all steam is released and place ribs on a foil tray to be put in the oven preheated to 550F maximum heat (Broil option)
STEP 3. Mix all Basting sauces and baste ribs with it before putting it in the oven for 5 minutes. Repeat basting every 5 minutes for 2-3 times
STEP 4. When ribs are baking in the oven, put baby potatoes along with all ribs broth/juices from the pressure pan under the ribs tray. Both ribs and potatoes will be ready at the same time.

Serve with one of the delicious and healthy Yogurt dips

HANDY TIPS:
1. Always wait for the steam in pressure cooker to release by itself. This is a safety precaution as well as retains all flavour of the food.
2. You may want to put baby potatoes in the ribs broth/juices from the pressure pan at the time of preheating the oven, this will give additional time for potatoes to cook. This will maximize the use the oven heat.