Did you know that the pressure cooker is one of the fastest ways to cook food and preserve nutrients? That’s why it is known as a time saving kitchen appliance and a must have tool for Indian Kitchens.

How Pressure Cookers Actually Work

A Pressure cooker is an airtight cooking device that cooks food quickly, by building up steam pressure inside it. The steam makes the food moist, which is why this is the perfect way to cook to preserve all vitamins and nutrients. It saves time and conserves energy. The sealed pressure cooker eliminates the need of using too much water as the food cooks in its own steam thereby eliminating harmful microorganisms. The high level of pressure eliminates bacteria responsible for food poisoning like E.coli, salmonella and more as compared to boiling food. The high pressure also helps force liquid and moisture into the food quickly, which helps it cook faster and helps certain foods like meats to get tender very quickly. Modern pressure cookers are very safe and easy to use. Most pressure cookers have a steam release valve, which you can move into the vent position to start releasing the pressure. The easiest approach however, is to just let the pressure cooker slowly release the pressure all by itself.

Factors Influencing The Choice of Pressure Cookers

The Right Size

Pressure cookers come in various capacities, from 1 litre to 20 litres. The main decision factor of the capacity is the family size. To make very little quantity of food or baby food you do not require more than a 1-1.5 litre capacity. If yours is a family of 4, then a 3 litres pressure cooker is enough. For a larger family or a joint family a capacity of 5 to 7.5 litres pressure cooker should be sufficient .

The Right Type

Material

Pressure cookers are mostly made of stainless steel or aluminium. Aluminium pressure cookers may be stamped, polished, or anodized. Anodized cookers are made with a hard-anodized aluminum base. In most cases, it also has non-stick materials coating the cooking surface. There is a range of non-stick cookers available as well. when you are shopping for cookers and see the term “hard-anodized,” there’s a very good chance the cookware is also non-stick. If you see the term “non-stick,” the cooking surface is coated with a non-stick material, but the base could be a material other than hard-anodized aluminium.

The Right Shape

Cookers are available in a variety of shapes, for cooking alone or for cook and serve. A pressure cooker is shaped like a deep pot, like a large saucepan with straight walls. Some are Handi shaped, usually for cook and serve dishes like biryani and pulaos. Apart from the regular lid, they also come with a transparent lid and a ladle holder. The food in this shape is cooked in circulatory motion. The Kadahi range comes shaped like a deep frying pan and are sometimes called pressure pans but all have the usual seal and valve. A range of clip on cookers have been introduced as well which boast of a one hand operation and are cook and serve variety, with a transparent lid.

Inner Lid/ Outer Lid

In the inner lid models, the top of the lid goes inside of the cooker. Whereas in the outer lid model, the top of the lid stays outside of the cooker container. In general, the large size pressure cookers use outer lids and small cooker sizes make use of inner lids.  If for any reason the build up pressure is not getting released due to the valve being blocked. The inner lid has some resistance as the bottom lid does not let the outer lid fly simply. And so any chance of bursting in inner lid cooker is lesser as compared to the outer lid.

Price Range

Pressure cookers in India start at 600 INR-10,000 INR. You may want to invest in a pressure cooker depending on the frequency of your usage.

Safety Considerations

While selecting a pressure cooker it is important to know if the precision valve in the cooker releases pressure as soon as it goes above 1 Kg per square cm. The gasket release system bulges out to reduce excess pressure in case the vent is blocked and the safety lid ensures that the cooker cannot be opened until the pressure eases off to a safe level.

Different Kinds Of Pressure Cookers

Gas Stove/ Induction

Pressure cookers are available for both gas stove as well as Induction top. Induction works with electricity,  generating a small magnetic current that causes friction within the pot and this friction generates heat. Induction cookware means the items can be used on induction cooktops. Magnetism rather than direct heat is what makes the pots and pans heat up on an induction cooktop. The magnetism of induction cooking heats the induction pots and pans almost instantly. For induction cooking to work, your cookware must be made of/ contain a magnetic metal, such as cast iron or some stainless steels. There are two types of induction pots and pans. Some are made of the same material throughout the entire cooking vessel, and some may be made of different materials on the sides and handles and only have the induction-ready magnetic disc on the bottom.

Using a non-induction pressure cooker on an induction top will not work as the magnetic current will not get created. However, if you still want it to work then you need to use a converter disk which allows you to use non-induction cookware with an induction cooktop. It is flat and made of stainless steel or Iron. It has a safe heatproof handle to hold easily. It evenly distributes heat throughout the cookware.

Electric Cookers

Besides Gas stove and Induction, electric cookers are also becoming quite popular. these are Plug-in pressure cookers which boast of other features and functions, like slow cooking, steaming, and sautéing in addition to pressure cooking.

Your choice of gas or electric cooker is likely to be influenced by your previous experience of cookers, what your kitchen is already set up for and your own personal cooking preferences. If you’re into the idea of making stews, soups and one-pot dishes you’ll appreciate owning an electric pressure cooker.  Gas models cook at a higher pressure than electric pressure cookers and therefore get hotter, so an electric cooker may take a bit longer to heat up and cook than their gas counterpart.

Wattage is a very important factor while choosing an electric pressure cooker, the higher the wattage, the hotter the heating element will burn and the faster the cooker will reach pressure.  A 1000 watt pressure cooker can take an average of 13 minutes to reach pressure, while a 1300 watt one will do it in 5 minutesSo in the wattage department, go big or go wait.

Electric cookers have a built-in pressure release valve, also offer locking lids and smart auto-shutoff sensors. In other words, These are versatile, user-friendly plug-in appliances.

Smart Cookers/ Instant Pots

Smart Cookers or Instant Pots are one device for pressure cooking, slow cooking, searing, sauteing, steaming and other cooking essentials. Some Smart Cookers include an integrated cooking scale inside the pot, so you can add ingredients and see their weight before you mix them or begin cooking. These Cookers have an auto ‘pressure release’ function. It can release pressure on its own at the right time and pace for safety and precision. Their ‘Keep warm’ feature enables to keep the food warm after cooking it to avoid re-heating resulting loss of nutrition. Most also have easy touch cooking programs Like Soup, Meat/Stew, Dal/Bean, Slow Cook, Sauté, Rice, Oat-Meal, Steam/Idli, Yogurt, Manual, & Pressure Cooker to make your cooking even easier. 

Slow Cooker

Another form of electric cooker is known as a slow cooker. This is a portable device that basically is a deep pot with a lid. A heating element is in the bottom of the unit under the cooking area, which encompasses most of the interior of the cooker. These are designed to apply low, even heat to food over a long period of time, sometimes a whole day or more. It’s entirely safe to leave your slow cooker on overnight, if you’re out the house or if you’re at work all day as long as you follow all the directions and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Top 5 Brands of Pressure Cookers according to our research,

  1. Hawkins

 

2. Prestige

3. Wonderchef

nutricook

 

4. Nutricook

5. Pigeon

 

Pressure Cooker Accessories

  • Handle
  • Pressure Valve
  • Inner lid gasket

Some Interesting Innovations In Pressure Cookers

Clay Cooker; Cooking in a clay cooker not only has a variety of health benefits but also makes for an easier cooking process and in the end, a more flavorful and nutritious dish.

Brass Cooker;  It Is Beneficial For Your Health To Cook Your Food In Brass Pressure Cooker But It Is Mandatory To Get It Tinned.

Microwave cooker; Pressure cooking made easy in a microwave.

 

 

 

Hoppingo approached Chief Babu Nagarajan of Indian School of Hospitality to get his views on the type and brand of Pressure Cooker he finds most suitable. According to him, it is better to use a pressure cooker made of anodized aluminum, as stainless steel while more durable and shiny, does not conduct heat as well as aluminum. So you will notice that it takes longer to cook in stainless steel. Aluminum is also cheaper and easier to clean. Aluminum heats up quickly which allows you to get your cooking done faster and more efficiently. The heat is distributed evenly throughout the cookware, so your food is cooked evenly too. However, keep in mind that aluminum may react to acidic foods like vinegar and lemon. For regular use he recommends Hawkins gas pressure cooker as the most popular, durable and value for money. Hear what he has to say.

hawkins2

This is what he had to say.

 

 

We do hope we’ve made it easier for you to choose the perfect pressure cooker for your kitchen.

It is good to have complete information about the pressure cooker and it’s parts before using to avoid any injury.

 

Author: Aparna Malhotra

Aparna is an avid reader, a passionate cook, a coffee aficionado and a musicophile. On most days you can find her appreciating the wonder of nature, nurturing her plants, lost in the deep blue sky, watching the sunset, being at one with the cycle of life.