I am a full-time working mum of three beautiful boys, including a seven-month-old, so not a day goes by when there isn't a cooked meal ready in our home. Children get hungry often, as does a breastfeeding woman. The good news is since I became a mum, I have come to enjoy cooking more, so it's not so much of a chore; rather, this desire to feed my children feels instinctive. My biggest challenge, however, is time. So when I learnt of a new cooking pot that aims to help busy parents prepare nutritious meals in less time, I couldn't wait to fire up or, in this case, plug in the electric gadget.
The Smart Pot Pressure Cooker by NutriCook, the same company that put out the famed NutriBullet, is "9-in-1" – meaning it is at once a steamer, rice-cooker, pressure-cooker, soup-maker, slow-cooker, yoghurt-maker, food-warmer and egg-cooker. It's quite an impressive list, and these are all things that are part of everyday cooking, except maybe the yoghurt-maker (I buy mine ready-made).
After using the device for two weeks, here are my main takeaways.
It is user-friendly: The Smart Pot is simple to use, so easy in fact that I used it the first time without reading the instructions. Of course, you need the manual to know how the different functions work, but it's not overwhelming. Once you know what each button does, it's all fun and games.
It saves time, but …: My soup is ready in eight minutes, my rice in 13 and my steamed vegetables in 15, so the Smart Pot is definitely a timesaver. This takes a little bit of getting used to, though, and you want to check the manual because what would normally take 20 minutes on a stove would need 10 minutes or less. You also don't want to overcook your food. However, when you've got a meal that requires more than one pan, you're not necessarily saving time if you're just planning to use the NutriCook. If you are, that means you're cooking the main dish, then emptying the pot, washing it and then using it to prepare the rice that's meant to go to with that stew.
It's good for both families and single people: Cooking for one can get boring after a while, but since you can do so much in so little time with the Smart Pot, it's useful for those who don't want to eat out every day. You don't even need a stove. There is no doubt that this is a great appliance for families. I use it almost daily; my baby just started eating solids and we've been preparing all of his meals in it. The pot also comes with a handy recipe book that's meant to help you use it better. So if you're wondering how you make curry using the NutriCook, it will tell you exactly how. You can even find some videos online of interesting recipes by first-hand users.
It's quiet and safe: The Smart Pot doesn't sound like it's cooking at all; it's a very quiet appliance. If you've used a traditional pressure cooker, you'd know how loud it can be especially when it's releasing steam. Then you would typically place the cooker under water before opening the lid. With the NutriCook, I only have to release the lid.
Recipe: vegan green pea stew with rice
This is a traditional Lebanese dish, which is nutritious and super-easy to make; it's a favourite of my eldest son.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients and method for the rice
1 cup rice soaked in water
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup broken vermicelli pasta
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
Heat the oil on a medium-high setting and then add the vermicelli. Fry using the saute function for three to four minutes until golden. Add the rice, water and salt. Once it’s boiling, change to the manual function, close the lid and set the timer for seven minutes. The rice should be served warm together with the stew and seasoned to taste.
Ingredients and method for the stew
400g green peas (frozen or fresh)
1 large carrot, diced
1/3 cup freshly chopped coriander
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp salt
2 tsp seven-spice powder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
Heat the oil in the NutriCook on a medium-high setting using the saute function. Add the garlic, cook for one minute, then add the chopped coriander and cook for another minute. Add the diced carrots, spices and salt and cook for two minutes. Add the green peas, warm water and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then close the pot. Select the manual function and set the timer for eight minutes. When done, remove the lid and serve with the rice.
The NutriCook Smart Pot 9-in-1 pressure cooker is available at Carrefour, Ace and Sharaf DG, and online at Amazon.ae and Mumzworld, from Dh399