After researching all of the choices available, I pulled the trigger yesterday on a much anticipated purchase: the Phillips HD4711/60 rice cooker. It had everything we were looking for (quality brand, glass lid with steam escape hole, nonstick 1.8L capacity, steamer basket) and, after some small negotiating, clocked in at just under $20.
This morning we made our first rice cooker meal: oatmeal. It was simple recipe, water + oats + milk in the cooker for 7 minutes, and it came out tasting great. Buoyed by our success, we planned to try a fried rice dish tonight where the rice cooker is used for frying with oil instead of steaming. I picked up the necessary ingredients of brown rice, vegetables, spices, oil and a few eggs on the way home from work.
Alas, our affair with the rice cooker turned out to be very short-lived. On my way to our room, I was stopped by the guest house owners. They said the chambermaid noticed the rice cooker and they wanted to make it clear that cooking wasn’t allowed in the room. I asked them to elaborate. For example, they had given us a hot water kettle for making tea, oatmeal, etc. I pointed out that making rice is not much different than making oatmeal. But it was futile, they were adamant that using a rice cooker is “cooking” (as opposed to “simple things”), and they draw the line at “cooking.” As shops here don’t accept returns they offered to buy the rice cooker from us for the price we paid. It was a frustrating and slightly stressful experience, but we’ve already pre-paid our first month’s rent, and it is one of the nicest places in town. Sigh.
Now that we have explicit criteria around what is regarded as “cooking”, our experimentation will be focused on salads and recipes that involve “add boiling water.” We’re going to scout the grocery store tomorrow to see what ingredients can be applied to this purpose.