Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Hawkins' Maiden Voyage

Well, I'll say one thing for pressure cooking - it's exciting! Slightly scary the first time, too! Jets of hot steam that you cap (manually and bravely!) with a weighted regulator, bursts of steam periodically from the vent (it sounds like a locomotive, which runs on steam after all!), and then the short-cut depressurizing by lifting the little stop-cock vent weight regulator with the end of a spoon or a fork . . . at which point all the steam comes hissing out right next to your fingers!

Only my fingers didn't get burned, but my thumb did. I (wrongly) assumed that the regulator would have cooled enough to handle it with my well-seasoned fingers after the entire lid had sat out cooling for a minute or so. Yee-ouch. It stays QUITE hot for quite some time!

The manual didn't warn about that (it covered everything else in great detail, so I'm not complaining!), so I will:

When removing the vent weight from the lid (long after you've removed the lid from the pot!), either wait for a long while for the metal to cool, or use an oven mitt/cloth because it gets, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite hot from having pressurized steam flowing out of it!

WARNING: this weight vent pressure regulator gets HOT HOT HOT!

And I suppose that this is why there should be a trial run! I'm learning, oh how I'm learning! One surprising minute after the next!

Here's a little slideshow of the steps involved:

Element set on "high"; contains 2 cups tap water + 1 tsp lime juice.

Steam at first spurts, then steadily blows out of the vent.

Then (the scary part) you CAP the steam geyser with the little regulator, pressing it down to "click" in place!

And after a few anxious moments, the thing BLASTS steam and lifts the weight! And then silence. And then BLAST! Then you reduce the heat to MEDIUM. I suppose this is a continuous cycle as pressure builds up, is released, then builds again. The steam didn't travel far from the pot.

And then another scary step - you remove the pot from the burner (while you move it, it BLASTS steam, which is really unnerving!), and then short-cut the depressurization process (optional) by lifting the weight with the end of a fork. And all the steam again comes BLASTING out!

Weirdly, the manual explicitly said to add 2 cups of water plus 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice (which I did) in order to keep the inside of the cooker 'clean'. But when I opened it after the run, it had clearly become discoloured...

See the splash marks from the water and lime juice?

Ah well, I suppose I'll be putting worse into it very soon anyway! Next up are the navy beans for the Eggplant and Navy Beans in Kalonji and Tamarind Curry recipe (Vij's, of course!).

Add 1 cup navy beans (dry, unsoaked)

Add 4 cups water

Cook for about 25 minutes and voila! Cooked beans! (No, sadly not 11 min; that required a 1hr pre-soak)

Hey, did you know that "Vij's at Home: Relax, Honey - The Warmth and Ease of Indian Cooking" won the 2010 World Gourmand Cookbook award? I'm also hardly surprised that there's only four copies of this cookbook in stock on Amazon.ca - the publishers must be so thrilled!

The Eggplant and Navy Beans in Kalonji and Tamarind Curry turned out fantastic (of course)! Everything I've ever made in this cookbook has been astonishingly delicious. If you're worried about the 'spicy' factor, all of the dishes are MILD for a Western-palate (I typically double the recommended spices, and even then it hardly hits "medium"!). Even the "spicy" dishes are still what I would consider to be mild.

So, so good. It's like baked beans - total comfort food. And I didn't have to soak those dried beans overnight thanks to Hawkins!

Total success. Totally pleased. Totally going to use my Hawkins 5L pressure cooker for everything!

Two other thoughts to round off the meal:
  1. I've decided that making your own tamarind paste (from page 42) is not worth it. It's the second time I've done it - either my strainers are all the wrong gauge of mesh, or I just don't have the knack for straining and pressing lumpy, chunky, skin-filled tamarind mush through a sieve. I also noticed that a jar of unsweetened, mostly tamarind, preservative-free paste (product of Thailand) at New Apple Market cost about $3.50. Seeing as this is only about $1.50 more than the block of tamarind, and it means I don't have to press unpressable fruit goo through a strainer inefficiently, I'd say it's completely worth it. I only needed 1 Tbsp of the paste in the end! I think if I were to make the tamarind chutney from scratch, I'd definitely do the full paste preparation. But for a Tbsp of paste added to an otherwise easy recipe? I'm taking the short-cut next time!
  2. I got a bag of tomatoes for $1.00 at the New Apple Farm discount shelf (outside, bottom left!). Everything tastes better when you buy stuff on sale! Score! (I should also mention that tamarind blocks are slightly cheaper at New Apple than at Sabzi Mandi (by $0.50 or so), but that cilantro is twice as expensive at $0.79 compared to $0.40 at Sabzi Mandi. So it all balances out if you happen to purchase both!).


No comments:

Post a Comment