The beloved rice cooker pan being taken for a spin in the gardenEden Keily-Thurstain

As someone who is blessed with a gyp that is a healthy two metres squared, I would say I’ve done fairly well in cooking distinctly edible food in a concerningly small room. Much of this can be attributed to what I believe to be the pinnacle of kitchen equipment: the humble rice cooker. After my flatmate brought one belonging to her parents from home in our first year, a long and dedicated love affair began. Tragically, in my last ever term, our rice cooker sadly kicked the bucket and stopped turning on, perhaps reticent to anyone taking finals. In a show of remembrance, I have highlighted my house’s favourite rice cooker recipes from our happy years together. Hopefully, it will bring inspiration to other Cambridge students whose colleges have determined that a cupboard with a microwave is more than enough to achieve culinary greatness.

“Prepare for the party in your digestive tract as those lentils slip down”

Rice cooker dahl

An absolute family favourite to start, the family being my housemates of course. What this dahl lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in its gyp-suitable status. Turn the rice cooker setting to cook, add a neutral-tasting oil and a diced white onion. After a few seconds add fresh ginger and the following spices: cumin, turmeric, garam masala, and ground coriander. I just bung them in but if you’re a nervous cook, start with 1 tablespoon of each. Let the spices infuse the oil, and, if your gyp is as unventilated as mine, infuse you. Wash a mug of red lentils in a sieve and add to your rice cooker. Cover with vegetable stock or tinned tomatoes. This is the point that I honestly just get a bit vague and add whatever liquid to cook the lentils, but the main point is that after about eight minutes they are soft enough to eat and will have absorbed a lot of the liquid. Add a tin of coconut milk and let that baby cook a little more. At this point, add salt and pepper to taste, and add anything you think might be a little lacking. Key secret ingredients here are peanut butter and lime juice, the latter of which should be added right at the last minute to keep her zesty and fresh. Serve with rice, or if you’re feeling brave, make flatbreads while the dahl cooks using equal parts flour and natural yoghurt, adding a pinch of salt. These can be gently fried on a pan with some oil. Serve with fresh coriander and prepare for the party in your digestive tract as those lentils slip down.

“Hot sauce can be added to the mix if you want to spice up your life”

Rice cooker chilli

A dahl and pasta sauce, shining examples of the culinary masterpieces possible in a rice cookerEden Keily-Thurstain

Rice cooker chilli is ideal for feeding the masses, and the recipe can easily be stretched by adding more beans and tins of tomato. The key here is cooking it for long enough, to ensure your bean medley matures into a fully fledged chilli. Similar to the dahl, start by cooking up a large onion, ideally red but it doesn’t hugely matter. Once slightly translucent add your spices. I use ground coriander, cumin, pepper, and add chilli flakes and paprika later so they don’t burn. I share all my spices with my housemates, but if you’re lacking on the spice front and it’s a one-off, Mainsburys sell a spice mix, which works out cheaper if you won’t reuse them. Add a healthy number of sliced garlic cloves, or garlic powder if you have that instead. Add two cans of chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste if you have it. Adding salt and a bit of honey/sugar can help take the tinned taste away if you’re not a fan. Let it simmer for about ten minutes and add your beans, two tins is ideal. Red kidney beans is the classic but you can mix it up if you’re feeling quirky. Give some of the beans a little squish with your spoon but leave some so it doesn’t go to mush. Let the chilli cook, stirring often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can also leave it on keep warm for a while if you’re not eating it straight away. Serve with the carb of your choice, and stir in fresh lime and coriander at the end if you want to splash out on garnishes. If you have a hot sauce of some variation in your house, then this can be added to the mix if you want to spice up your life.


Mountain View

The Cambridge kitchen

So there you have it, an ode to arguably the most iconic piece of kitchen equipment, that may provide a solution to your hob-less existence (if it doesn’t get confiscated). Of course, these recipes can’t fully represent how everyone can or chooses to eat in Cambridge. I would definitely encourage you to swap out ingredients and modify any recipe however you see fit. For those blessed with hobs and counter space, these recipes are also very possible in a pan.