Someone recently told me that the pressure cookers from the 1980s were more reliable than the ones we get today & 3 whistles meant perfectly cooked rice every single time whereas the modern ones were temperamental. I think there's an interesting reason here
I think this perception comes from what is a rather widespread misunderstanding of how pressure cookers work. A significant percentage of the Indian population measures pressure cooking time in "whistles" and not actual elapsed time at maximum pressure
So, a quick recap of how pressure cookers work. If you boil water in an air-tight vessel, pressure will build up, and that in turn increases the boiling point of water, which then continues to stay liquid at well above 100 Celsius & thus cooks food faster
Today's #SWEMEX match is being held at Yekaterinburg, a place with a fascinating role in Russian history, as a quick internet rabbit hole exploration informs me. The city is named after Catherine 1, the first empress of Russia, who incidentally had an astonishing life herself.
Her parents die from the plague. She's adopted by a Lutheran pastor. As she grows up, the pastor's wife fears that her beauty might be too alluring for her son, so she gets her married off to a Swedish soldier stationed in town. And then the Russians invade town & kidnap her
And the chap who kidnaps her is attracted to her, and his close friend turns out to be...Peter the Great, and guess what, he is attracted to her too, so much so that he divorces his wife & secretly marries her. And they have 12 children, of which only 2 survive to adulthood
The single most rewarding bit of knowledge when it comes to cooking is food science, and I'm not talking @ajit_bhaskar level of PhD chemistry, just some basics that can completely remove your dependency on highly detailed & precise recipes.
So here are a few food science tricks that I've learnt over the last few months that I think will take your cooking to the next level. These largely fall under the categories of understanding caramelization of sugars & starches, pH levels & smoking point/temperature
The first trick will sound familiar but I'll bet almost every one of you is likely getting it wrong. Caramelization of onions. Literally every other dish involves sauteeing onions in oil & every one of those recipes will ask you to wait till they're translucent. Not good enough
Getting things done is best done on pen and paper. I've tried several digital tools and none work for me. The analog feel of paper and the cognitive and physical investment of effort in committing tasks to paper make it easier to invest the extra effort to get it done.
Learning a new skill requires time and zero distractions. Smartphones are time parasites feeding on our attention. This year I turned off all notifications on my phone & also kept it on airplane mode when I was learning something (apologies to those not able to reach me).