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I was cooking Lasooni Dal Tadka (an Indian Lentil curry) following this Hebbar's Kitchen Recipe.

I followed everything as stated but only changed the water quantity based on what I usually follow which is:

  • 2 cups of water for 1 cup dal.
  • 1.5 cups of water for 1 cup of rice.

Of course, rice isn't included in that recipe but I pressure cooked it in a separate container simultaneously. The idea was to wait for up to 4-5 whistles as the recipe states but I started getting burnt smell after a few minutes of turning on the stove, so I had to immediately stop. I waited for about 5 minutes for steam to pass out and opened the cooker, the end result was something like this!

enter image description here enter image description here

What could have gone wrong here? The obvious thing I'm thinking is the water quantity but I've cooked rice+dal many times like this and each time they cooked properly, could this be the cooker/equipment malfunction? What could be the case here?

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    Do you usually pressure cook dal with a ratio of 2:1::water:dal? The recipe calls for a ratio of 4:1. Aug 31 at 18:00
  • @wumpusD'00m Yep, that's why I ignored that part of the recipe. I usually cook with 2:1 and that too works just fine. Another change I made to the recipe is that I also added 1/4 cup moong-dal to the 3/4 cup of toor dal to make it one full cup. Another minor change but none of that should result in a burnt bottom I think? Aug 31 at 18:56
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    Did you leave it cooking for longer than you normally do? Was the pressure weight the same as the recipe (I note the recipe doesn't say)? It's obvious the water got absorbed too soon and the dal burnt. Aug 31 at 21:12
  • @wumpusD'00m That's exactly what I suspect because the dal was all solid like hard stone with no moisture. However, the rice compartment was still intact and rice was fine. Does that mean the ratio of dal was problematic? And It took about 7-8 minutes for the burnt smell to start coming, the strange thing is that the whistles never happened, how could that be? Sep 1 at 4:14
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    @PrahladYeri the "whistle" is a pressure regulator. The sound is caused when the pan fills up with steam to capacity, the regulator opens to let out some steam, causing the whistle. This needs a minimum amount of "free" water to happen. If the water was all absorbed by your solids, you're not going to hear any whistles Sep 1 at 7:39
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So water ratio was indeed the issue as many commenters suggested. I cleaned the pressure cooker and again cooked the exact same recipe today with increased water ratio as follows:

  • For 1 cup Dal: 2.75 cups water.
  • For 1 cup Rice: 1.75 cups water.

And this time, it didn't burn and the results were as follows:

Rice:

Rice

Dal:

Dal

Considering that rice was still a bit moist and spilled some grains to the base area of the cooker, I think that water ratio was a bit much and 1:1.5 is still probably ideal for rice.

And considering that Dal was cooked but still quite thick (I had to whisk to bring a proper consistency), I'm thinking that 1:3 is ideal for Dal. In any case, the end result (Dal Tadka) after sauteing looked like this (the taste was so amazing that I ignored the tadka and consumed it as it is!):

enter image description here

This recipe has taught me the hard way that water ratio in cooking has to be exact and precise, we can't afford to get even slightly casual about this!

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    Glad to see you figured it out. Pressure cooking is like baking -- you have to have everything in correct proportions from the beginning, as there's no chance to notice something is wrong and adjust it. This is further complicated as there are two types of pressure regulators -- the ones that whistle lose some liquid as they cook, while some other styles don't.
    – Joe
    Sep 1 at 14:33

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