Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ode to a pressure cooker

When my wife and I moved to Pakistan over three years ago, we decided to do so with the bare essentials in order to travel light. Within weeks, we were up against the challenge of stocking up our new kitchen, not only to take care of the routine cooking but also to host get-togethers for new friends and acquaintances.
So my wife did the rounds of shops in Aabpara and Blue Area, buying dinner sets, cups and saucers and serving and cooking dishes. Yasmin, our first maid in Pakistan, took care of the cooking and I rarely ventured into the kitchen as work in those tumultuous days of late 2007 and early 2008 kept me busy round the clock.
When I did decide to make a comeback to cooking, something I enjoy a lot, I found I was hamstrung – our new kitchen was missing a pressure cooker, an essential item in almost all Indian homes.
No problem, said our domestic help, you can buy a pressure cooker in the local markets. So off went my wife to the ‘bartan’ stores in the bustling Aabpara market near the Lal Masjid and returned with a pressure cooker.

The three-eyed monster

For those of you who have never used a Pakistani pressure cooker, here’s a description: It’s larger than its Indian counterpart, has a whistle that never blows and in most instances, it’s totally rubbish. Sorry, but there’s no other way to describe it.
The dal prepared in the cooker emerged as a lumpy, jelly-like mass that tasted gruesome. Vegetables cooked in it looked and tasted no better.
Within weeks of the arrival of the cooker – which resembled an ominous three-eyed monster – I was interrupted while filing a report by a loud bang that seemed to come from the direction of the kitchen. My wife and I walked into the kitchen to find Yasmin cowering in a corner, the contents of the cooker spattered all over the walls and the ceiling.
That initial “blast” was followed in rapid succession by two more. Such a desperate situation called for desperate measures. I decided I would have to ask someone visiting India to get me a pressure cooker. An opportunity presented itself soon enough when an acquaintance – a lady of Indian origin married to a Pakistani – sought my help to get a visa to visit her folks in Mumbai.
This was well before the Mumbai attacks and the visa was issued to the lady after I made calls to a few diplomats. The lady got in touch to thank me and asked if she could get me anything back from India.
Our trusted Hawkins
“Yes, you can – a pressure cooker,” I replied. She gamely agreed and a colleague in Mumbai bought and passed on a Hawkins pressure cooker to her, which she carried back to Islamabad. And that was a very happy ending to our misadventures in cooking. 


  1. Nice post....I stay alone and I have bought an electric stove to cook myself something, anything quickly. Thank god it's made in India.


  2. Ah I could write a thesis on this Tumhara Pressure Cooker Ishq and Hamara Pressure Cooker @##. I was very uncomfortable with The Man's pressure cooker as seriously the lid does not come off the way ours does. also the whole whistle system confuses me. But yes I have to say once you go Hawkins you never go back, so I am (please dont take my Pakistani passport away) a convert to aap ka pressure cooker ishq. thankfully our awesome darzis and superior shalwar cut allows the Pakistani flag to fly high.
    And Shahid Afridi peace be upon him.

  3. " here’s a description: It’s larger than its Indian counterpart, has a whistle that never blows and in most instances, it’s totally rubbish."

    You might as well have been describing the Pakistani male "appendage". :)

  4. Hahahaa... seriously... they dont have normal pressure cookers.. :P
    well gud to know that now you are eating better cooked food than before... Congrats...

    take care

  5. @indrablog, May I direct you to my new blog on cooking at pappedahotel.wordpress.com? Some easy recipes there that even you can whip up on your trusty electric stove?

  6. Your three-eyed monster never whistled because it was a "rocker" and you are supposed to keep it to a slow, steady "rock and a jiglle" -- so glad your houshold helper was not injured! Your Hawkins looks great!


    hip pressure cooking
    making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

  7. "three-eyed monster " का फोटो देख कर मज़ा आ गया|मालूम नही था कि पाकिस्तान मे प्रेशर कुकर भी कुछ अलग तरह का होगा |
    मज़ेदार पोस्ट |

  8. very exciting ...
    I think U should have bought the majestic brand cooker..but honestly no comparisn on both sides I am a pakistani & would tell u a story about your cookers.My daughter was so scared of that timely whistle that for days she didnt want to enter the kitchen

  9. Sanhita, thanks :)

    Ramna, :D

  10. I have used both Pakistani and Indian cookers.. I think that a Advantage living in a uni in UK.. and I find both same useful.. if you don't know how to use a cooker you can't blame the cooker it self.

  11. lol, 3 eyed pressure cooker, well that's got to be a classic!

    where were the official chokidars at the time of the three blasts, they didnt come inquiring, "sahab kis ko udaya?!" :p :D

  12. I just couldn’t leave your website before telling you that we really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new posts.

  13. pl post more often why hv u stopped

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