After nearly 45 hours of research and testing – including test cooking countless kilograms of chicken, lamb, lentils, rice and vegetables – we think that the best pressure cooker in India is the Prestige Stainless Steel Deluxe Pressure Cookers – Alpha Base 5.5 litres. It’s sturdy, steady and safe, and will last you for years to come.
The Best Pressure Cooker in India
1. Prestige Stainless Steel Deluxe Pressure Cookers – Alpha Base 5.5 litres
2. Hawkins Futura Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker 5.5 Litres
Why should you trust us?
We’ve arrived at our results after nearly 45 hours of research, visiting offline showrooms, speaking to cooks and chefs who use a pressure cooker, and looking at reviews online and speaking to actual owners. We cooked food ourselves in top finalists to see how the end result turned out while keeping an eye out for smaller details like browning of food, heat retention, cooking times etc.
How should you decide which one to buy?
Pressure cookers are an essential tool in the Indian kitchen. Indian families have been early adopters of this technology, and have been using them to save on fuel and energy costs. Developed countries like the USA are now taking heed of this simple and effective appliance and are realising its energy saving benefits.
The pressure cooker is a great appliance to have in today’s fast-paced world. The time it saves is crucial – a good one works almost two to 10 times faster than other cooking methods. Food also retains more of its nutrients; and using a pressure cooker is good for the environment too!
A pressure cooker is defined as any air-tight vessel, electric or stovetop, that utilises a build-up of steam to cook food faster. By converting the small amount of liquid within the closed vessel into steam that is unable to escape, you increase the temperature and pressure within the vessel, and, ultimately, cook the food inside.
In the past, pressure cookers have had a bad reputation of being unsafe and a ticking time bomb in the kitchen. Well, that applies to any appliance in your house, but, like every other appliance, they’re perfectly safe as long as you use them correctly. With advancing technology comes a lot of safety measures, and there is really a very small chance that the cooker will splatter food all over your kitchen walls. Here are the factors we’ve taken into consideration while judging the range of pressure cookers available in the market.
Stovetop vs Electric pressure cookers
As mentioned earlier, there are two main types available in the Indian market: stovetop and electric pressure cookers.
strong>Stovetop pressure cookers use LPG as the primary source of fuel. Newer cookers work with induction tops and electric tops as well, but they still require an external heat source.
Stovetops cook faster than their electric counterparts, but they need monitoring and manual adjustments. These are also hardier as they are lesser parts that could fail, and a good stovetop pressure cooker will usually last you for 10 to 15 years if not more.
- Faster to cook with
- Easy to store – require no counter space
- Last a long time
- Higher pressure settings
- Has a higher learning curve
- Require more attention
- You have to use an external timer
Electric pressure cookers are beginning to become popular because of their ease of use. Sheer convenience is this type’s main highlight, and will often overshadows its shortcomings. This type of pressure cookers cooks slower than stovetops, but requires little or almost no attention when at work. The cooker has separate settings for different ingredients, which is a great feature – vegetables, lentils, rice and meat all cook differently. You can use the timer and the cooker will start cooking, say, an hour before you come home from work – you will be welcomed with a hot meal. Electric pressure cookers are also more efficient in terms of energy used. These cookers are bulkier as they need their own heat source and take up space on the kitchen counter like a microwave or an OTG. And the usage of electric components means that they don’t last as long as the stovetops.
- Easier to cook with
- Better energy efficiency
- Heat source and timer built-in
- More expensive
- Slower cooking times
- Big and bulky – take up counter space and are harder to store
- Lower pressure settings
While each type has their pros and cons, we have chosen the stovetop over the electric because, in India, cooking with LPG is cheaper than using electricity.
Size and Capacity
Pressure cooker capacity is usually measured in litres. For an average family of four, a 5- to 6-litre pressure cooker should suffice. For a couple or an individual, we recommend a 3-litre cooker, while larger families of 5 and above should look at a capacity of at least 7 litres.
We at Before I Buy believe that safety comes first, and that philosophy is reflected in all our top picks. Look for a lid that fits in securely, with strong Bakelite handles with two screws so they don’t come off easily. The pressure cooker should have a good weighted or precision valve system and must come with a locking feature induced either by internal pressure or external mechanism to prevent burns from hot food splatters. A metallic plug and a controlled gasket release system for emergency pressure releases is also a great addition.
Even with newer models with the standard safety features, please read the instruction manual because, when cooking with pressure and heat, simple errors can turn into serious burns. As long as you follow the instructions, your risk should be minimised.
Pressure in pressure cookers is usually measured in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) or Kilograms per Square Centimetres. 15 PSI or 1Kg/cms2 is the magical number standard for pressure cooking. And not all cookers available in the market can achieve this pressure. Our top picks do, and hence they deserve to be here.
Why is the 15 PSI the magical point? At this pressure, the temperature of water is 121 degrees Celsius or 250 degrees Fahrenheit. At any pressure setting above 15 PSI, energy is wasted. For example, at 90 PSI, the temperature achieved will be 166 degrees Celsius/ 331 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not proportional. Also, the thickness of the metal required to withstand such pressures will be higher, and safety becomes an issue.
All recipes are designed for cooking at a maximum of 15 PSI because there is no significant damage to nutrients, texture and flavour. Many pressure cookers come with lower setting like 8 or 10 or 12 PSI; these are great for delicate foods like spinach and shrimp, but are inefficient, as food cooks slower – which defeats the whole point of a pressure cooker.
The pressure cooker valve is a very important safety feature. There are different types of valves available, and each is a compromise between durability, convenience and cost. For example, a spring valve is a pop-up valve that lets you know the pressure level. It’s mostly available on imported, higher-end models, is the quietest option, and uses less energy, but it’s fragile and may become unreliable. Indian models usually have a weighted valve or a modified weighted valve – these are hardier and do the job well, but they are louder, and you have to pay close attention.
Pressure cookers primarily come in two materials: stainless steel and aluminium.
Stainless steel pressure cookers are durable, and can withstand higher temperatures, but are more expensive and heavier. Steel tends to get a bit discoloured after prolonged usage, but that doesn’t affect the cooking or the flavour of the food in any way. Aluminium models are cheaper, lighter and are better conductors of heat, but they deform quickly as they are more malleable, giving them a shorter lifespan. Aluminium leaching into food can be an issue, especially if you cook with acidic foods like tomatoes.
To get the best of both worlds, many Indian models now come with a sandwiched steel-aluminium-steel.
There are also aluminium models that are hard anodised, which means they have a bonded coat of oxygen, rendering the aluminium inert while adding hardness to the metal, and some models are coated with a non-stick material. These are usually not a good idea, as both anodised and non-stick materials cannot handle high heats. So, while lighter-weight models with the ease of non-stick cooking are tempting, they do not last very long.
Shape of the container
We recommend buying a flat and wide bottomed, straight-walled pressure cooker. These are the best for evenness in cooking different types of ingredients. Especially since you can use the cooker to brown, sauté, etc before pressure cooking. You will see different types of shapes in the market – round at the bottom or bulging at the base like a kadai. These are a bad idea, as contact with the heat source is minimised and the odd bulging shape will blacken from inside because of the trapping of heat.
Type of Lid
This is a bit of a debate as both the inner lid and the outer lid have their advantages and disadvantages.
The outer lid is a popular model because of the added safety feature of the controlled gasket release system, but the gaskets tend to wear out faster due to the friction of turning the lid. The inner lid models tend to lessen the gasket wear-and-tear, but do not have a gasket release system. Also, another problem we found with the inner lid model is that to open it, you need to dip the lid slightly, which means you are going to scoop up your food if the cooker is filled to maximum capacity.
The last, but just as important, factor is the availability of spare parts. While the steel body will last for decades, other parts like the rubber gasket and handles will break or deteriorate. It’s better to buy from an established manufacturer with standard sizes – this ensures that spare parts are available throughout the lifespan of the product.
The Best Pressure Cooker in India for a Family of Four
1. Prestige Stainless Steel Deluxe Pressure Cookers – Alpha Base 5.5 litres
Sturdy, steady and safe – that’s why our top pick is the Prestige Stainless Steel Deluxe Pressure Cooker (Alpha Base 5.5 litres).
This Prestige pressure cooker has an outer lid, and, like the name suggests, a 5.5-litre capacity. It is built using high-grade stainless steel, and comes with a completely flat sandwiched steel-aluminium-steel induction base, which covers the entire bottom, promoting uniform heating and faster cooking. The stainless-steel body is strong and hardy and is non-reactive to alkaline foods. Safety is our top priority, and this pressure cooker has three levels of safety, including a primary weighted precision valve, a controlled gasket release system (CGRS) and a metallic safety plug, making it safer than inner lid pressure cookers.
The pressure cooker heats evenly because of the flat induction base. We tested it by sautéing onions and ginger-garlic paste, and browning and searing meats like chicken and mutton, and it consistently provided the results we were hoping for. The pressure build-up is quick, and once the cooker is operating at its optimum pressure, it is maintained well. This is also one of the few cookers available on the market which works at the 15PSI level, which is a great for energy efficiency and fast cooking.
The bottom is wider than most of the competition, at 22.9cm wide, and it has enough space to brown/ sauté without overcrowding your food. The body is straight-walled and not bulging or rounded at the bottom, which, as we’ve stated earlier tends to cause accumulation of heat at the bulges and blackened surfaces. The handles are made of Bakelite and are sturdy. The only thing you will have to do is tighten the twin screws as they tend to loosen after constant use.
As a general thumb rule, you should only fill a cooker to 2/3rds of its capacity. Most cookers, including our second pick, the Hawkins Futura Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker 5.5 Litres, have a marker to indicate the level. This one doesn’t. It’s not a deal-breaker, but that’s a nice little add-on.
The gasket is prone to wear and tear – every time you open the lid, the gasket tends to grind against the steel body. We think it is an acceptable trade-off for the added safety of the gasket release system.
Coming from the Prestige stables, we feel confident in the after-sales service and availability of spare parts as well. The standardised gasket rings and weighted valves can be easily obtained from any kitchen emporium or stores dealing with cookware and are quite reasonably priced.
One thing sorely missing in the Indian market is a dual-variable pressure setting like 8 PSI and a 15 PSI. The higher PSI is great for cooking tougher foods like meats, grams and pulses, while the lower setting can effectively deal with delicate foods like spinach, eggs, fish and the like. Sadly, no Indian manufacturer has introduced a variable pressure setting yet.
2. Hawkins Futura Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker 5.5 Litres
If you’re unable to lay your hands on our top pick, look no further than the Hawkins Futura Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker. It’s modern, good-looking and stable.
If you want something stylish (or at least as stylish as a pressure cooker can be), look no further. This is a 5.5-litre stainless steel pressure cooker from another well-known manufacturer – Hawkins. Both Prestige and Hawkins are manufacturers of international renown and have been present in the Indian market for decades. This pressure cooker looks more futuristic than any other cooker in the Indian market, but still has a solid build quality. It’s well-sized for a family of four, and is small enough to be easily stored.
This pressure cooker ticks a lot of boxes – it’s induction and hot-pot compatible, and also dishwasher safe. The cooker is made of high-grade stainless steel, though it’s also available in a hard anodized version which we do not recommend. The base, which is a thick, 7mm sandwiched steel-aluminium-steel type, is flat and heats evenly. However, it has a different pressure regulating system without a weighted valve, which can make it tricky to understand when the food is cooked.
Let us explain. In India, we’re used to pressure cooking with the help of audio cues like the pressure whistles – an external timer doesn’t feature in the equation. With this pressure cooker, you have to let the pressure build up, and, once the valve starts letting off a bit of steam, you need to start timing the cooking. It’s a bit of a change from what we’re used to, but definitely not a deal breaker.
The Hawkins Futura is an inner-lid type cooker, which means that while there is lesser wear-and-tear on the gasket ring, it can be annoying to open or close. As with all inner lid cookers, you have to dip the lid inside the main container to open it, which can result in scooping out the contents if you are cooking at maximum capacity.
After-sales and service are a plus point with any Hawkins products, as their dealer coverage is pan-India and spare parts are fairly-priced. Even if you have to replace the pressure regulator, you can get one of online marketplaces.
In the process of writing this review, we looked at the bestsellers on Amazon and Flipkart. While some models seem good on paper, most didn’t fit our criteria for selection. Either they were made of the aluminium or did not list the operating pressure.
One of Amazon’s bestsellers, Pigeon Favourite Outer Lid Aluminium Pressure Cooker, comes across as a good buy. However, the body and lid are made of aluminium, and there isn’t any information on the operating pressure value. This was a deal breaker for us.
The Hawkins Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker, 5 Litres is another cooker which is highly-rated on Amazon, but we did not pick it because of its rounded base. It has a sandwiched base, but it doesn’t actually cover the entire bottom.
Similarly, the Hawkins Contura Hard Anodized Pressure Cooker is well-rated, but we rejected it as it’s aluminium.
The last word
Buying a pressure cooker today is a matter of convenience. Gone are the days when you would hear horror stories of explosions in the kitchen. Safety is now paramount to the Indian consumer, and most of the models available in the market pass regular safety standards, while some exceed them.
On a side note, we wish that Indian manufacturers would start innovating with the work horse of the Indian kitchen. While a single pressure setting is adequate for most people, a discerning cook would love a variable pressure setting. If we are to accept silent cookers like our second pick, the Hawkins Futura Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker 5.5 Litres, then can the manufacturers add a visual cooking aid like a pressure indicator which pops up instead of a whistle.
We have selected our top picks based on the factors which apply to most of us and have recommended the best. Electric cookers are a great convenience, but we will review those separately.
Another point we strongly advocate is buying online. Right now, when online marketplaces are duking it out for market share, it’s a win for us, the consumer. Buying online is safe and usually cheaper, and most brands will honour service commitments. Do remember to check the vendor from whom you buy the appliance, and read all the terms and conditions carefully. We recommend buying the products if there is an ‘Amazon Fulfilled’ or ‘Flipkart Assured’ tag.