Why You Should Have a Pressure Cooker

If you, like me, are cooking or want to be cooking a lot with dried beans, you should have a pressure cooker. Cooking dried beans can be a very time-consuming process and a pressure cooker will save you oodles of time.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually start thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner until well into the afternoon (i.e., too late to start the 8-12 hours of soaking required before cooking dried beans the long way). With my pressure cooker, I can turn unsoaked dried chickpeas into cooked chickpeas in just under 1 hour total. You should be delighted to plunk down some money for a pressure cooker. You can acquire one for as little as $25! The one we have is a Presto model. It was a gift several years ago, but I believe it’s this stainless steel 6 quart version that retails currently on Amazon.com for about $45. It’s well worth the money, friends!

I cooked some chickpeas for you as a demonstration. To do it the long way, I would have to soak the beans in cold water for 8-12 hours, drain, rinse, then boil for 60-90 minutes until tender.


Or, I could do the quick soak method: cover chickpeas with 3 inches of water in a large pot, bring to a boil for 2-5 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit in the hot water for an hour. Drain, rinse, and then boil for 60-90 minutes until tender.

And now, the pressure cooker method: For the record, the volume of your chickpeas will double as they cook, so if you need 4 cups of cooked chickpeas for a recipe, you should cook 2 cups of dried chickpeas.

Rinse off the dried chick peas. Put them in the pressure cooker and cover with water (1:3 ratio of chickpeas to water). Bring to a boil uncovered over high heat. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the water (this doesn’t usually happen with the chickpeas I use, but you never know). Then put the lid on the pressure cooker. When the pressure has built up, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to subside naturally (this takes about 5 minutes for my cooker). Remove the lid and drain the chickpeas. Now they are cooked! Use them in any recipe calling for cooked or canned chickpeas (like hummus!). This time, I used mine to make chana masala (recipe below). Easy peasy!


If you, unlike me, are a person who actually plans ahead and might plan to soak your beans all day while you’re at work so they’re ready at night for dinner, you are in luck! Presoaked chickpeas will take only 15 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker. I’ve read in a few places that soaking the beans helps cut down on any resulting gas, but I confess I haven’t noticed a difference if I don’t soak them prior to pressure cooking.

Would you like a more detailed how-to-use-a-pressure-cooker blog post? Pressure cooker ┬ámodels vary, but I could try to do a how-to with pictures. It’s not really rocket science and you can probably figure it out by carefully reading the instructions that come with your model, but I’d be happy to walk you through it if there’s interest. Let me know in the comments below!

Chana Masala

  • 2 TBSP ghee (substitute safflower oil or whatever cooking oil you like)
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seedsIMG_5433
  • 1 TBSP garlic paste
  • 2 TBSP ginger paste
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP amchur (dried mango powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 + 2 cups water
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Serve with jasmine rice, pita or naan, coriander chutney and coconut chutney


Ghee, melting in a pot

In a pot, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and allow to cook for about 10-15 seconds (they’ll sizzle and start to turn reddish brown). Reduce the heat to medium, then add the garlic and ginger paste. The pot will hiss and spit when the pastes hit the hot ghee or oil, so have a splatter screen or lid handy to shield yourself. Stir fry for about 2 minutes – the mixture will start to turn a light brown shade.

Add the tomato paste, amchur, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, and turmeric and 1 cup water. Stir together and bring to a simmer (you may want to increase the heat slightly). Simmer for 8 minutes to evaporate some of the water from the sauce.


Simmering, spicy sauce

Add the cooked chickpeas, the salt, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.


Chana masala

Serve with rice and the chutneys and pita wedges.


10 Thoughts on “Why You Should Have a Pressure Cooker

  1. I agree! Pressure cookers are awesome. Especially for things like chick peas and black beans. But also for all kinds of lentils.

  2. I don’t have a pressure cookier.
    Maybe I’ll ask for one this Valentine’s?!
    The chana masala sounds delicious! Gonna have to make it. Thanks, Carly!

    • Nothing says “Won’t you be my Valentine?” quite like a pressure cooker. *wink*

      Hope you like the chana masala, Colette – let me know what you think.

  3. Carolyn Beans on January 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm said:

    I confess that I used to be a bit afraid of the pressure cooker. It makes the most horrible noises while it’s doing its job–like the whole thing might explode at any moment. But my husband told me that I couldn’t marry into an Indian family unless I learned to love the pressure cooker. His family uses it for everything from dried chickpeas to potatoes. I now agree it is an essential kitchen tool!

    • I was nervous the first time I used it, Carolyn, but quickly got over it! I’m not sure how I lived without it now. :) I haven’t tried it on potatoes! I’ll have to give that a go.

  4. Um, that pressure cooker was for Karl. Respect property rights, lawyer!

  5. Margaret on June 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm said:

    I only recently bought a pressure cooker and I’m already in love with it. I’m learning how to use it and trying out new recipes. At first I wasn’t sure which one to buy and what to look for but I found a review site which really helped me. My only advice for new pressure cooker users is to do your research and just have fun with it. It makes cooking in the kitchen simple and a real joy!

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