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Why this product, selling millions of units worldwide, isn’t advertised in Indian Media?

Do we see ads for Pencils(Natraj)? Light bulbs? Fans? TV? Freeze?  Of course, Yes.

Did you ever see an adv. for rice cooker’s in Indian main stream media? I didn’t. Ever wonder, what could be the reason?

Certainly low price is not the reason (it costs roughly 2-5k). We are still a majority rice eating nation, so it’s not an alien product category for us. It’s not like there are no proper branded companies present in this product category, there are. Also, it’s not very hi-tech. It’s 40’s technology, Japanese invented it, and now it has got acceptance as a daily use product in many rice eating countries worldwide. For example, 0.45 million rice cookers were sold in Taiwan, for a population of 23 million (2012 data). This among many other questions was triggered in my mind from a discussion with my mom in 2014.

I remember, my mom visiting us that year. It was then that the 60 year old lady used an electric rice cooker for the very first time in her life. Needless to say, she seemed to like how conveniently rice could be cooked in it. Seeing her admiration for this simple daily use appliance, I offered, if I could buy one for her back in our native. To my surprise, her answer was a quick and resounding “NO”. She preferred her traditional method of cooking rice in plenty of water in a vessel and draining the extra starch water out after rice is cooked (Let’s call it, starch reducing method). “I don’t like the extra starch that remains when you cook in these electric rice cookers. Your dad is pre-diabetic and must avoid any excess sugar consumption,” said she. For sure, she liked the convenience of an automatic rice cooker, but not at the cost of changing her method, which has stood test of time. One would think, what’s the big deal about the difference in method of cooking? Rice gets cooked, end of the story.

Well, not that straight. I have grown up seeing my mom cook rice in the age old Indian traditional starch reducing method. I don’t know for how long this traditional method has been followed in many parts of India. It’s such a tedious, time consuming and sometimes risky process, because of handling the draining hot starch liquid!! Through my inquiry, I found, it’s not unique to my native, Odisha. The same method is followed at least in all these states, Karnataka, Kerala, TN, Andhra,Telangana, Gujarat, Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Eastern UP, Himachal, Punjab. If you belong to any other state and still can relate to this method or you have any story of injury in your family while cooking in this method, do leave a comment below. Not only that, here are few more prominent benefits of this method.

  1. Published research claims, excess carb (sugar/starch etc) consumption as one of primary reason for weight gain and T2 diabetes. Millions of people are now adopting a low carb lifestyle to avoid obesity and diabetes. You can find such people on many forums worldwide including in India, in UK etc. It’s a no brainer, when we drain the excess starch water after rice is cooked. We reduce our starch consumption without lowering the portion size.
  1. Another research from Belfast University claims, rice contains traces of arsenic (cancer causing) due to use of pesticides while growing. Cooking in this Indian traditional starch reducing method also reduces the arsenic content by about 50%.
  1. The difference in taste: I have spoke to 100’s of people on this topic. Many love the taste of rice cooked in this method. Due to busy lifestyles, sometimes they would very grudgingly buy a rice cooker, or use a pressure cooker to cook rice, only to get back to cooking in starch reducing method on special occasions, holidays when they have more time in hand.

Alas!! Only if this traditional method was easy to follow or I had more time in hand, I would never want to use a conventional rice cooker. Probably it’s the same with many of us, who would definitely love to continue the method our previous generations followed. The rice cooker available in markets are suitable for people who eat rice with chopsticks; as they need it to be sticky and excess starch helps to keep it so. But I have no special liking for sticky rice!! In fact many Indians would consider sticky rice as of being poor quality rice or cooking, it’s like burnt roti. My father is a pre-diabetic and would like to avoid any excess sugar, and mom is growing old to continue with the rigor of this method of cooking. I am in late 30’s and have a bulging belly to vouch for it 😉

So, why don’t we have a fully automatic rice cooker, which automates this traditional method? This motivated us to work on a rice cooker which cooks in the Indian traditional method. When we first thought about the problem and it’s solution, we raised a question here on this forum (Patent or Prototype what do first ). We will post our learning on that question, separately.

HumbleRice Cooker – Starch reducing, fully automatic. Now, we have finished the design, electronics & prototype for our idea and have a patent pending. Manufacturing being an expensive pursuit for our limited resource, we are looking for support in form of early adopters and backers. We are currently taking the mail registration on our site, plan to open pre-booking in July and deliver before December’17.

Our site and face book page provide much more detailed info. Encourage you to visit & like us, | | twitter: @EatHumbleRice support us, by helping to spread the word among your well wishers. Do talk to your family members, how rice was cooked in past, how it’s done now. Do register for pre-booking, if you find the product useful and like your family to eat healthy.

To answer the question we raised in the beginning. Our guess is, rice cookers are not advertised in MSM, because it doesn’t meet our need, doesn’t automate our method. People just buy it out of no other choice being available. Could you think of a better reason, do let us know.

Our Bio: I trained as software engineer, have 15 years of software industry experience. My wife, has 10 years of experience in Airline and Telecom industry in operations. We both are from Odisha and have moonlighted on the project for last 2 years, engaging small engineering firms and freelancers to reach at current stage. Manufacturing is being handled by a design & engineering firm based out of Bangalore. We continue to moonlight for now and plan to take up this as full time entrepreneurship from Aug’17 and give few years of our life and see what Almighty has willed for us. If you like the work we have done till now, please support us. We will do our best to not let you down.


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  1. Interesting 🙂 We prefer the “starch reducing” method as well, for a different reason – the rice stands out and doesn’t stick to each other (as a result of less starch?).

    Will recommend your cooker to HQ, my influence only extends that far!

    • Hi Narayanan,

      Yup, that’s what i prefer too. The taste/feel are kind of tied to the point 3.
      Please do recommend to HQ 🙂 Happy for a social media mention from you to gain word of mouth 🙂
      You are from which state ? if you don’t mind.
      The reason to ask is, i have found these practices are common for people from certain states. So there is a strong chance many more people from same state would be able to relate.


  2. Could not the reason of no advertisements of rice cooker be that it doesn’t need one in the first place ? The starch reduction method would scrap a lot of nutrition away from the rice too which would leave behind just pure starch. I think the conventional rice cookers are becoming a first choice for an educated and aware consumer. Sorry but in my opinion this kind of concept is bound to fall.

    • Thanks for your reply & opinion Khuzema.
      In the Indian context, whatever a normal rice cooker can do, a pressure cooker can also do, with some additional time & attention investment. So, in that sense , you are right, many ppl are adopting pressure cookers or conventional rice cookers to save time.

      Coming to the point of nutrient loss. Please check these 2 links. (Table 41)

      If you have read those 2 links, you might agree with these 2 points.
      1. A far greater amount of nutrient & fibre is lost in making brown rice -> white. So for some one interested in nutrient from rice, brown rice is a much better choice, but brown rice doesn’t cook well and becomes hard & sticky when cooked in the absorption method. second part is my observation after talking to lot of people.
      2. A negligible additional amount of other nutrient is lost in this method of cooking compared to just washing.

      The educated and aware consumer that am targeting hopefully is aware that rice is not a primary source for other macro or micro nutrients in normal food habits. One should ideally take in a lot more like, fruit, vegetable, lentils, milk to get their fill of those nutrients.

      India is now known as the diabetes capital of the world and this centuries old method of starch reducing rice cooking has stood the test of time, as it’s still practised in majority of tier 2/3 cities. Probably at this point, reducing our carb intake is more important than scrapping the last few %age of nutrient from rice.

      Jury is still out, let’s see how it goes 🙂

      Trivia : You will be surprised to know even Europeans practised this starch reducing method of cooking and they are marketed “cook in the bag” plastic bags from reputed rice brands such Tilda & Uncle Ben. The rice comes in perforated high quality plastic bags which can be dipped into hot water for cooking, once cooked, the bag is removed leaving the extra starch. Google it.


      • Having said and read all that, the bottom line is, a conventional cooker costs nearly 3 times lesser than your proposed price tag. An Indian consumer is highly price sensitive.

        Apart from that, we have an electric cooker which we use past 6 years bought under 2k. That has its own automated starch reductiom method via an additional attachment of an aluminum hollow plate which can be placed at the base of the cooker to filter out excess starch and salt. We seldom used that attachment but now we might start using it after you pointed out it benefits.

        As an entrepreneur myself, i wish you all the best from the bottom my heart but i think the journey for this particular Venture (product concept) is going to be a tough one!

        • I take you point on price. But i think, it’s for good reasons:

          1. The heart of a standard rice cooker is a thermostat. User takes care of how much water to put for his type & qty of rice and as the water get’s steamed off, the temperature rises above 100 degree C (water’s boiling temperature), thermostat senses the rise in temperature and switches off the heater. If we want to drain the starch water after rice get’s cooked like in HumbeRice™, obviously a thermostat is of no use. Hence a computing element (board and micro-controller) based on user inputs (LCD), sensors like temperature to regulate the temp, decide how much cook, motor and platform to rotate the container for draining, draining container with a sensor to make sure no starch overflow, 2 caps etc etc are required. The sheer need for more components, more than doubles the cost of manufacturing compared to normal rice cookers.

          2. A standard rice cooker is a commodity, most brands selling them in India import from China where these are mass manufactured at huge scale. Ours being a new invention, we are currently trying our best to manufacture just few hundred pieces and test the market. The initial investment is huge, irrespective of we produce 100 or 10,000 pieces. I hope that explains the price.

          Trivia : You will be surprised to know, that the only other rice cooker with similar functionality, which exist since last 1-2 years only (a research effort from US & Malaysian JV), with a different design & it’s own patent, sells for ~INR 40k in Malaysia and Singapore. Their distributor for Singapore recently put a press release: they believe it can sell 2000 pieces per month!! (google please). We will be good with 1/4th those volumes at less than 1/5th the cost from all markets put together. If we can achieve that, we have a viable product in hand. Like i said, the jury is still out and fingers crossed.

          Did you watch the recent SRK movie, Raees ? Do you recall a scene where they show, running a large kitchen, during the riots. In that scene, did you notice them showing rice cooking? a fraction of second, the rice is getting cooked in this age old traditional method. That’s how common the method is (or was, since the movies is set in 90s). I would bet most small restaurants also still cook in this method, at least the ones i checked with, still do, and it’s manual effort where not much value add or differentiation is made.

          I have heard of the hollow plate, many people who cook rice traditionally and have tried to use them said, it does a poor job of how they actually want to cook. That is probably because, the cooker still switches off after all water is evaporated (thermostat). So by the time, the water below the hollow plate is evaporated, probably rice would have got overcooked ? But i haven’t tried it myself. So do let us know, how it works.

  3. Hi Raja, you make an interesting point about the rice cooking methods and the nutritional benefits of the reducing starch method. But, correct me if I am wrong, could the Indian value-seeking mindset be another reason regular rice cookers haven’t taken off? We already have limited kitchen counter space, and here is a product which will take additional space, additional cleaning effort, additional maintenance, and so on. I would imagine pressure cookers are being accepted as a substitute for the regular method, because they are very versatile and can be used for about a 100 other things and don’t require any special care.
    Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

    • Hi Nikunj,

      Absolutely possible, all the points make sense on why pressure cooker is very well accepted.
      At the same time, there is a market segment which is buying automatic rice cookers. Keep an eye, as you browse/search search ecom sites, or pass through electronics store, one can’t miss the presence of those rice cookers in back shelves 🙂
      A rice cooker also typically does lot more than just cook rice. For example HumbeRice™ can cook anything (idli, dal ?) on timer or cook and drain anything on timer, like pasta/egg/potato etc…but it can’t compete with pressure cooker, but they are built to use the pressure.

      From point of view of viability of venture, i have put my thoughts in a new post y’day night here. It should be published in a day or 2 after review by Rodinhood team. Do read that on my thoughts on why not every idea needs a blue sky (large market) opportunity.


  4. Finally someone says it straight

    White rice contains about 90% carbohydrates, which could be the major cause of type 2 diabetes. However, the methods of cooking plays a major role in the maintaining the carbohydrate level of rice. Traditionally in each household, rice is cooked by boiling it till all the water is steamed out. However, with the advancement in life styles, the method of cooking rice has also seen its turn from the traditional ways to rice cookers. People find it easy because it saves time. All they need to do is put the switch on after putting the measured volume of water and rice. In both the methods, rice is not drained with the water after it is cooked. By this method, the whole starch content remains in the rice. It gets accumulated in the body once it is consumed. Therefore, straining off the extra starch water from rice after being cooked could be the potential solution to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. After cooking the rice in more volume of water than used in the traditional methods, it should be drained with the running water. Hence, this method of cooking helps to remove the starch from the cooked rice and more rice can be consumed compared to rice cooked by traditional ways.

    —The author is a Ph.D. Scholar at School of Life Sciences, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar.

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