For at least a year and a half, I’ve been wandering from shop to shop in search of a pressure cooker gasket. The problem with pressure cooker gaskets is that they need to be of the exact size required by a specific pressure cooker. My pressure cooker joined our family soon after my marriage, more than twelve years ago. Since then, like me, it’s acquired a few loose screws, a few unseemly curves, and many battle scars. But, like me, it still works. True it’s been becoming increasingly dysfunctional, but it gets the job done.
So I probably should have left it alone until it became completely dysfunctional, but I suffer from this delusional belief that I should attempt to pre-empt crises when I see them developing. Since searching for the correct size gasket hadn’t worked so far – and I’d asked in close to ten shops all over this city – I decided more serious measures were called for.
What do you do about a leaky pressure cooker that you can’t replace the gasket of? You buy a brand new pressure cooker, of course! Never mind that a brand new pressure cooker costs upwards of a thousand rupees. Once the gasket completely gives out and the pressure cooker doesn’t build up any pressure at all, you’ll be reduced to eating your dal raw. Likewise your potatoes, channa, and chicken. Not a good idea.
So I hurriedly picked up a brand new Prestige pressure cooker at Spar last weekend. Amit, naturally, didn’t want me to do this. Why buy a pressure cooker from a company that stops supplying gaskets for the old one before you’re ready to throw it out? More irritatingly, he didn’t really believe that the gasket wasn’t available. He didn’t think I’d tried hard enough. (Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Men!)
When I got home and opened up the new pressure cooker, I found, much to my dismay, that… it took exactly the same size of gasket as my existing pressure cooker. Effectively, I’d shelled out a grand for the benefit of just one new gasket! What’s worse, I still didn’t know where I could get gaskets of this exact size, so once this new gasket wore out, I’d be right back to square one.
I packed the brand new pressure cooker, along with the brand new gasket back into the box in the hope that I could return it to Spar. Meanwhile, Amit went out on Sunday evening to a Prestige Kitchen Boutique, where, with disgusting ease, he bought not one, not two, but FOUR gaskets of the right size. Now why, WHY, couldn’t he have shown this initiative and enterprise BEFORE I was reduced to buying a whole new pressure cooker? Answer: Because, according to him, he didn’t know I needed it, until I was desperate enough to shell out one grand for it. (Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Men!)
So on Sunday evening, I poured the rajma into the old pressure cooker, closed the lid with the new gasket, and was pleased to note the smooth, tight fit of the handle on the body.
The kids came into the kitchen with their chairs and tables for their dinner. I gave them their milk, and as they promptly started playing games with it, I separated them. (“Games” range from pouring milk from one glass into another, to spitting into the milk, to inadvertently – or otherwise – spilling milk all over the table, clothes, and floor.)
A few seconds later, there was a loud blast and steam poured out from several parts of the pressure cooker!
I grabbed Mrini, who was closest to the steam, and scarpered out of the kitchen, throwing an arm around Tara on the way.
In the safety of the dining room, the kids started crying, wondering what they’d done wrong. I was shaking from shock, but I held them and tried to explain the matter to them. They were ok soon enough, but I was shaky for almost an hour after that.
Anyway, I returned to the kitchen, where steam was no longer pouring out with such terrifying force, and turned off the blasted pressure cooker. A little while later, I opened it. There was nothing apparently wrong with it – the safety valve hadn’t blown and the cooker hadn’t exploded. Amit came home and I told him what had happened. I told him to leave it alone now, but, against my better judgment, he put the lid back on the pressure cooker and turned on the gas. A minute or two later, when he tried to open it (I don’t know exactly why) it went “boom!” (Arrrrrrrrrrgh! Men!!)
I shouted at him from the safety of the dining room, but he was ok. Thankfully, he decided not to try any more experiments with the pressure cooker after that! He called the kitchen boutique. They said that maybe the normal vents for steam to escape were blocked and with the old gasket it didn’t matter because it was leaky anyway.
“But you took the lid to the kitchen boutique for them to fit the gasket,” I said. “Didn’t they check it?”
Apparently not. They just put the new gasket on and sent him on his way.
“Fine. So let’s put the old, leaky gasket back on. At least that works,” I said.
“Oh, I left that in the shop. I didn’t know we’d need it,” he said.
Right. So we had soggy rajma and an explosive pressure cooker. Good combination, I don’t think.
On Monday, Amit went back to the boutique place to show them the lid. They should have cleaned the vents; instead they looked at where the gasket had blown, pointed out a huge dent in the lid, probably caused by one of the two explosions, said they “might” be able to fix it, and told him to go back and bring the rest of the pressure cooker to them.
Now a whole week has gone by without my getting around to returning the new pressure cooker. Another week is likely to pass before we get the old one fixed – if it can be fixed. And the cook – thank goodness – is finally cured of her conjunctivitis and is back at work! Naturally, she demands a functional pressure cooker. Actually, she’s ready to take her chances with a dysfunctional pressure cooker, but I’m not. I don’t want the blasted thing exploding all over her! Maybe that new pressure cooker has arrived in our lives at just the right time, after all!