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 Trust me pressure cookers today are very different from those outdated aluminum models, and are perfectly safe to use as long as instructions are followed.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.

 

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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!

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.

Plant in a vase-पानी में पौधा

Green looks beautiful indoors, more so if it is in water. Here is a nifty trick to being some greenery inside your home on your kitchen counter or into your family room. A green herb or indoor plant with its roots showing in clear water not only adds vibrance to a room but also has other benefits. Like a mint twig in a room keeps bugs and mosquitoes away. Easily available indoor plants like a creeper, English Ivy, bamboo plant or money plant in water adds beauty and freshness to any room decor.

You need minimal materials for this project. A glass vase, water, a plastic drink cap and a plant. Check out the video above to see how to get through with this quick project.

Handy Tips:

  1. Make sure you do not leave any detergent residue in the glass vase where you want to put this plant as it may result in developing bacteria that may kill the plant.
  2. Do not change water often as all algae that has developed will be lost. Algae helps keep plant healthy.

SPICY COCONUT DIP-नारियल की चटनी

Gluten Free, quick and nutritious

It is a complete food rich in calories, vitamins, and minerals.

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
For Dip:
200 grams frozen shredded coconut
50 grams of dry roasted chickpea or peanuts
2 fresh green chilli or 1 inch of frozen crushed green chilli
100 ml milk
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 inch of frozen grated ginger

For Garnish:
1 teaspoon of oil
1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
2 whole dried red chilli

STEPS:
STEP 1. Put all ingredients for coconut dip in a food processor/grinder until it forms a smooth paste, keep adding milk if needed and let it grind for a minute or two for shredded coconut to get smooth.
STEP 2. For garnish, heat oil in a small ladle, add mustard seeds, red chilli and curry leaves until lightly roasted.
STEP 3. Add this to the dip, mix well, let it sit for 15-20 minutes for flavour of garnish to permeate.

IMG_1612HANDY TIPS:

  1. You can use fresh or frozen shredded coconut, the taste of the dip will be the same.
  2. roasted chickpeas can be replaced with peanuts or almonds, they will give the same smoothness and a different flavour to the dip.

Healthy Water-पुदीना पानी

mint water

All of us know drinking enough water is good for general health. And what if you can drink some healthy water every time you take a sip.  Mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food.

Mint has a natural acid which has been studied for its effectiveness in relieving seasonal allergy symptoms. Mint is known to be a natural treatment for common cold, indigestion, pain relief, heart burns, gastric ulcers, skin and oral health.

Every time you fill up a pitcher of water for yourself, family or the guests, add a few mint leaves. Squeeze or crush them with clean hands before putting them in water. Add a few pieces of lime or lemon to help cleanse your digestive system. Lemon and lime also help to control fat and grease in your body.

Enjoy this healthy yet simple concoction every day.

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.

BROCCOLI ALMOND YOGURT DIP-हरी गोभी,बादाम और दही की चटनी

Calorie wise Nutritious home made spread 
Gluten Free, quick to make  
Ingredients:
500 grams greek yogurt
One 50 grams floret of broccoli cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon salt
30 grams of crushed almonds
1 tablespoon dry dill weed or 25 grams cut fresh dill or 10 crushed mint leaves
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. Boil Broccoli in water for 3-4 minutes or cook in microwave for 1-2 minutes to make it tender.
Step 2. Add salt, broccoli, crushed almonds, garlic, and frozen crushed green chilli  to greek yogurt or block of yogurt.
Step 3. Mix everything thoroughly in a blender and add olive oil (optional)

Handy Tips:IMG_1623

 

1. This dip goes well 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.