Drumsticks and Whistles – Help

If you’ve visited my little blog, you know I am hooked on Indian food. That being a given, I have a couple of questions I’ve tried to answer by googling but can’t! Perhaps some kind soul will wander by and answer:

1. If you peel fresh drumsticks, do you avoid having to chew and discard the hard spines?

2. Approximately how long is a “whistle” on a standard pressure cooker?

If anyone can help I would be most appreciative.


  1. Nabeela said

    Hi Linda,
    The hard spine of the drumstick is NOT supposed to be eaten even when you have peeled it slightly..or your stomach will protest 🙂
    Only the yummy seeds and the pulp inside are to be eaten.
    As to your second question, a “whistle” differs from cooker to cooker….so I’d say go for about 10 mins or more for drumsticks.

  2. Vaishali said

    Hi Linda,
    As Nabeela has already pointed out, drumsticks are not to be eaten with the spine. As for the whistle, it is best if you let the whistle go off. I always time the pressure-cooking, because my 18-month-old daughter is very scared of the whistle and also becaue I have heard that it is a ‘more correct’ method. If you are asking this in connection with the drumsticks, my suggestion would be to cook them in water on stove-top with a pinch of salt added to it. Pressure-cooking them can at times give you only a big lump of drumstick mash. You don’t want that.
    Hope this helps.

  3. Priya said

    Hi Linda,
    I came by a blog from Priya’s. And just I had mentioned at her blog..I just love this template with its wonderful color-scheme.
    As for your Q’s (1) Drumsticks are generally not peeled. They are boiled in water with some salt/in tamarind water/ along with the dal/ as the recipe demands. Cooking it this way makes the vegie absorb the flavor of the liquid. So in the final dish, chewing the druwmstick releases this flavor making the eating process more enjoyable.
    In India even Sugarcane is cut into tiny pieces and chewed to release the juice. This way of eating is also an excercise for the gums and its good for teeth too. Its just another way our elders made sure we took care of ourselves thru their cooking methods.
    U can also just boil and then scoop the seeds and inner pulp if you prefer not to use the vegie as a whole.
    And as for the “whistle”, most ‘pressure cookers in India come with a weight on top of the pressure vent that releases the steam as it builds up inside the cooker. And the number of whistles just implies the cooking time. As a standard most cookers in India take 3 whistles for rice n dal, 2 for veggies, 4 for mashed potatoes or dal and so on. So its just a way of telling how much u need to cook the particular ingrdient. If u have a different cooker, just follow the instruction booklet and u’ll get to know by experience.
    And for drumsticks u could easily boil them in a saucepan with water as Vaishali has suggested.
    Hope I havent written more than u had asked for and bored u 😉
    Happy Cooking

  4. Hi Nabeela, Vaishali, and Priya,

    Thank you all for your expert advice and experience – one of these days I am going to get lucky and find some drumsticks – now I’ll know how to cook them. I have only had them canned 😦

    And no, Priya, I’m not bored! The more info the better 🙂

  5. Indosungod said

    1. you cannot peel drumstick like you would an orange for example, the pulp is embedded in the spine of the drumstick, cut them into about 2 inch pieces so you can easily pop one into your mouth chew and take in the pulp and spit out the spines. What comes to my mind when eating drumstick is when you sometimes chew the thick stem of an asparagus and have to spit out the chewy fibers.

    2. A standard whistle in a pressure cooker takes approximately 12 minutes, some people put the whistle on when they see steam starting to come out and the whistle comes in 4 minutes plus 6-8 minutes before you put the whistle on. But if you go by this measurement and use a regular vessel to cook lets say rice, it would not get cooked. Because the pressure cooker uses pressure to cook, the food gets cooked in 1/4 th of the time.

    Hope I have not caused you more confusion.

    Pressure cooker is a wonderful invention, I just love it when I want to cook food fast which is pretty much all the time.

  6. L.G said

    Hi Linda, Guess everybody has answered your questions.
    Anyway my 2 cents,
    The hard outer skin of drumstick has lot of vitamins loaded,so you dont peel them at all, Just scrapt them lightly and cook and chew on them,suck the juice and discard the fiber.Just like how you eat a fresh sugarcane.
    Canned drumsticks cook very fast.Cos they turn soft. So, you dont need a pressure cooker.

    To get the exact idea of pressure cooker whistle, the booklet that comes with the pressure cooker gives you exact what to what time etc.So check it out since pressure cooker timings vary from brand to brand. Or let us know the brand.
    Just follow this tip:
    Lentils like toor dal take a longer time to cook.
    Meat cooks in half the time of lentils
    Rice cooks in 1/4 time of lentils
    Vegetables take 1/4 the time of lentils

    Let me know if I can be of any more help.

  7. Hi Indosungod and LG, even more helpful information and answers – I do appreciate it! I bought a relatively inexpensive pressure cooker to experiment with. While there is a manual, it doesn’t say much about dals and the like, so I’ve been learning by trial and error. There is no whistle 🙂

    Meanwhile I found this great site about drumsticks. I guess I was being too specific with my Googling, cause I missed it the first time.

  8. Manisha said

    If you have an Indian store near you, check to see if they have frozen drumsticks. This is the next best thing.

    In our family, we were taught to eat cooked drumsticks in a slightly different way. The pod opens up easily once cooked. If cooked well, it splits into 3 parts, each of the length the drumstick has been cut into. We then held onto one end of each part and scraped the goodness off with our teeth in one quick swipe. That left the thick peel void of any pulp.

    Manttra is an Indian pressure cooker that you will find in Target and Kohl’s. It is made by TTK, one of India’s leading pressure cooker manufacturer. It has the weight. Pressure cooking is all about building up of pressure inside the cooker and the weight plays an important role. You use less water than when you don’t use a weight and avoid the risk of having a burnt inside if you run out of water.

    For plain rice, it’s one ‘whistle’ or pressure release. For dals to be fully cooked such that they can be blended to a smooth consistency with a fork, it’s 4 whistles. Veggies can become mush very quickly in a pressure cooker and I generally avoid cooking them this much as there is a loss of nutrients when they are overcooked. It’s also a personal preference because we like our veggies to be crunchy. Dudhi/lauki/Indian gourd is one vegetable that I will always cook in the pressure cooker, though.

    Hope this helps!

  9. A really big thanks to all who answered my cry for help regarding drumsticks and whistles. I am learning all the time and what fun it is!


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