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An ode to the rice cooker: Why this nifty appliance is a student’s best friend

How students can benefit from using a rice cooker
There simply aren't enough adjectives in the world to sing the praises of a mighty rice cooker. Source: Philip Fong/AFP

If there’s one food that can unite the world, then rice would surely take the crown above all others. From celebrity YouTuber Uncle Roger’s caustic warning on the faux pas of using a rice cooker, to Anthony Bourdain’s undying love for the Vietnamese Cơm Hến (clam rice) — rice has become a staple ingredient the world over, even among non-rice-eating cultures. 

Its versatility is what makes rice so beloved in many cultures. Whether you’re crafting fancy entrées or humble meals from leftover food, rice elevates a bite to an experience you can savour. For international students, there’s no other appliance that can serve as your best friend, your sous chef, and your sentimental connection reminding you of a piece of home other than the rice cooker. 

If you’re new to using a rice cooker, don’t let your ignorance stop you — get one immediately. No amount of fiddling on stovetops can beat the perfection and efficiency of rice-cooking with this appliance.

Time is something you won’t have much of as a university student juggling multiple to-do lists, so why not save some precious hours weekly while feeding yourself with fulfilling meals on top? 

Why using a rice cooker is the magical solution to all your kitchen woes

It is cheap 

There is certainly no shortage of kitchen appliances to choose from if you want to make life a little easier in your student kitchen. The air fryer might be all the rage now for its multi-functionality, the humble rice cooker is more economical in terms of both budget and counter space. 

A small, six-cup rice cooker for personal use retails around 18 US dollars, and even cheaper if you get them on discount or as second-hand items. By contrast, a decent air fryer would cost you almost triple the amount, which is the same price you’d pay for a small, unsatisfying toaster oven

Sure, a rice cooker may not do the same job as these two appliances, but it can hold liquid — which means you can get more creative with your cooking and not be resigned to dried-up or burnt food. 

How students can benefit from using a rice cooker

The steaming function in rice cookers allows you to bake a simple sponge cake for a quick treat between meals. Source: Cindy Ord/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

It is versatile

Speaking of liquid, once you’ve mastered the basics of using a rice cooker, it’s time to upgrade your culinary tricks. As a student, you’ll need a well-balanced meal that has all the nutrients to fuel your busy life. Brain food is as important as sleep, and since you need both to recharge, one-pot dishes with your rice cooker are the way to go for easy meal preps. 

Firstly, you have endless options with rice dishes alone. You could do an around-the-globe culinary tour with your pot, starting with the famous South Asian biryani, to the Uzbeki pilaf and West African jollof rice. You can even stir-fry your ingredients directly before adding rice to finish your cooking, which can easily last you a few days depending on your portion. 

In case you aren’t aware of it: yes, you can also boil food in your rice cooker. This means pasta, stews, porridge, and soups can now easily be added to your repertoire. Since it also steams food, you can even make dumplings and cakes for tea time using a steam basket.

It is portable

As if rice cookers aren’t amazing enough already for all the reasons mentioned above, you can even carry it anywhere. You can’t do that as easily with a microwave oven or a pressure cooker. 

Weekend at the cottage during the winter? A hearty soup is the way to go with this handy-dandy appliance. A small gathering with friends at a rented pad? Time to pull out the killer biryani recipe you just mastered. Living in a student dorm and can’t stand the shared kitchen? Your rice cooker pot is here to the rescue.

The potential is limitless with a rice cooker, and even an amateur can easily learn how to operate them. So the next time you’re strolling down the department store aisle, why not invest in one for a life-changing kitchen experience?