Modern Energy Cooking Services: A User’s experience with the Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC)

As we continue to research and understand the feasibility, people’s beliefs and opinions around cooking with electricity in Uganda; we set out to chat with Esther a resident of Bukerere on the outskirts of Kampala city about her experience cooking with electricity.

Esther is a stay home mum of two; to make ends meet, she started to make chapattis and sell them around her community; however, now she does not have to move around vending the chapatis as she gets orders at home. Prior to using the EPC, she used to do most of her cooking using a keresone stove supplemented by a charcoal stove periodically. Esther has been using the Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC) for the last 5 months.

We asked her about her experience using the EPC for cooking and whether there are any notable changes that she could share with the CREEC team in her cooking experience. This is what she said;

COOKING TIME: The EPC cooks really fast. There is a time my husband came with a visitor and brought meat with them. In 30 minutes, the food was ready to serve. Our visitor was so impressed that he wished to get one himself. I offered to be the one to get it for him. Where I used to cook say meat and rice on sigiri (charcoal stove) for an hour and a half, with EPC, I will use roughly 30 minutes.

FOODS COOKED: I have cooked a variety of foods with the EPC; meat, rice, beans, posho (ugali), Sukuma wiki, cow peas, chapatti, offals and more.

TASTE OF FOOD: The food cooked in the EPC is delicious. For instance, there is a day my husband came back from work and he told me he was very hungry. He came with offals which I prepared using the EPC. My husband enjoyed the meal so much and asked me what had made it so delicious. I told him that it was totally covered thus not allowing anything to escape from the saucepan (the EPC). To verify, the following day he suggested we use the paraffin stove to prepare the same meal. The results were, with the paraffin stove it took longer to get ready and did not come out as delicious as the previous one (using the EPC). My husband was really impressed.

Indeed, meat cooked using the EPC is more delicious than the one cooked using the paraffin stove. The other good thing is that we do not use any cooking oil, we just boil it and it comes out much better. We indeed saw the difference ourselves, that the meal prepared with the EPC is more delicious. This includes other meals such as matooke groundnut sauce. And these days my husband is always thanking me so much and appreciating my cooking which is something he never used to do before. He is so appreciative of how meals get ready very fast, and he does not have to die with hunger because of food taking long to prepare. He says the EPC has saved him from having to go to the restaurant when he is very hungry.

Rice is one of our delicacies at my home. I prefer to dry the rice by placing some charcoal on the lid of the saucepan. However, with the EPC I do not have to place any charcoal on top, since the rice always comes out when it does not have any water.

COOKING COSTS: I used to spend UGX 2,000 daily on charcoal daily to make her meals, which was really a lot. With the EPC, I use one unit of electricity (i.e. UGX 750) to cook for two and a half days. I do the actual cooking at lunch time; thereafter I boil water for drinking. In the evening I use the EPC to warm the meal. When I use it to warm, I find it comparable to the other appliance for warming food [microwave].

In a month, I would spend about UGX 50,000 for charcoal and about UGX 30,000 for paraffin. Now with the EPC, I budget UGX 15,000 for electricity which is equivalent to 20 units of power. I usually supplement this with UGX 15,000 worth of paraffin to prepare some simple things such as tea. This lasts for more than a month. Before the EPC I would spend a lot as well due to making chapatis for selling, but these days I only make them on order.

I am now noticing the savings I am making with the EPC. This new month I also want to test and see how much electricity I am going to use; I have again loaded power worth UGX 15,000 and bought paraffin worth UGX 15,000.

I am actually no longer using charcoal for cooking. I am now using the EPC for most of my meals and the paraffin stove for tea boiling water mainly.

IMPACT ON THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU: My neighbours are really amazed at how fast I prepare my meals. They usually start cooking long before me, but when I use the EPC within a few minutes I am done and we end up serving our foods at the same time. This amazes them. And many would like to know how they can get one. They had a fear of how much power (electricity) it consumes, however I explained to them and they now understand that it does not consume as much as they thought.

My husband is also so much impressed; he says he has not seen anything like it before (referring to how fast it cooks). And he is so protective of the EPC, always keeping the children from tampering with it.

My younger daughter has also noticed the difference that the EPC has made in time saving. At times I hear her bragging to her friends (neighbours) of how “our mother cooks and serves us early. She cooks using a pressure cooker,”

There is also a boda boda rider who has visited with my husband and seen it and expressed his admiration for it.

ANY BENEFIT FOR THE TIME/MONEY SAVINGS WHILST USING EPC: The fact that the EPC switches off automatically enables me to do other things while cooking. For instance, I can easily leave and go to the shop without worrying about the food because once the set time elapses, the EPC automatically switches off. This is not possible with the other stoves; you have to keep a close eye. In fact there is a day I received an abrupt call to have to go meet someone at the town centre, just at the moment I had set food in the EPC. I comfortably went to town after setting the time confident I would find it off. If I were using the other stoves, I would have to wait for the food to get ready.

For the money savings made from spending less on fuel for cooking, I plan use these to restart my chapatti business but having a specific location to sell from. My husband is in support of this idea of saving for my business.

ANY CHALLENGES FACED: I have not found any challenges with it; I am only seeing advantages throughout. I could easily campaign for it, and let other people know that it is efficient and its food tastes much better. I believe that even the famed luwombo, if cooked using the EPC, would taste much better. 

I feel very good using the EPC. I am very grateful to God.

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