About a month ago I bought a quick-coocker Ninja Speedi, and since today is another day for a post, I decided to share some thoughts on it. First of all, I think I need to provide context to my own food situation, in order to help people better understand how this device fits into it, and in what situations it can be helpful to others.
I am lazy
Important part of this is that I am lazy. I do not like to cook. Some people, who know me for long enough, may know that I do cook, and can cook relatively complex dishes, that would taste relatively good, but I still do not like doing that. It takes a lot of time, and the whole process takes my whole brain, so I rarely can do something in parallel. That was one of the reasons I started buying meal plans back in Moscow, because I did not have to cook anything.
After I moved to Helsinki I tried FuelMe, but without Edenred being fully covered (as Smartly did while I was there) they were not a financially good choice for me, even though the food was quite good and hearty. I then tried Growfit, which also was quite good, but they did not meat my dietary needs, in the end: even their vegetarian menu had protein in quantity of twice as much as carbs (that is carbs were low, at the same time), and it was closer to keto, and my kidneys did not like that.
As such I started cooking for myself again, and since I am lazy I essentially started living off one-pot meals. I took some grain, some vegetable mix, some protein, mixed them up, and put them on the stove to boil/braise. Grains, vegetables and protein were rotated, so that I could have some diversity, but goal of simplicity was still achieved. The goal of time saving - not completely, because I still had to watch the stove, stir the mix periodically, so I could not do something else in parallel, still. Add to that the fact that there was no consistency in terms of quality of final dish: take it off stove too early or too late and it will not get the ideal taste.
At this point I remembered my university days, when I had a multicooker. It did help me save time, since I just followed simple recipes from the included book, and most of them implied just putting everything in a pot, and pressing a couple of buttons. What I really liked about it was that it allowed cooking 2 dishes at the same time: put rice in the pot, and for example fish on the included "platform" (not sure how this was called) - and that's it. This felt like something very similar to my onepots, but maybe even slightly better.
Pretty soon, I've encountered Ninja Speedi. What got me interested in it is that it's main feature is exactly what I need: "speedi" meals, where you put some grain or pasta in the pot, and then protein on special lid, and press a button to make it ready in ~20 minutes. But what made really want to buy it instead of other cookers with 2 layers was the air fryer. When you use it in "speedi meals" mode, it heats the bottom as heat element, which heats the main pot, which essentially steam-cooks whatever is there (with heating up what's on the lid, too), but after ~10 minutes of doing that it enables the top heat element and a fan, which work as air fryer to crisp whatever is your top layer.
So I bought it.
Since it was my first time using it, I decided to go with ready-made chicken meatballs. Since they are already cooked, they do not need to be heated for that long, which means you are less likely to undercook them, and I was afraid of doing that if I used proper meat for the first time. So, for 2 portions I put 100 grams of rice, 200 grams of frozen mix of corn, peas and paprika, 250 milliliters of water, a table spoon of vegetable oil, and a bit of salt and black pepper into the pot, mixed everything, put 12 meatballs on the lid, started the program for 10 minutes (recommended as per Ninja's recipe builder), and waited for a beep for 20 minutes (first 10 minutes are steam cooking, as mentioned before).
Great results, minor annoyances
I did not expect much, but results were great. You can see example of how meatballs look after they are cooked on the banner for this post. I know it's not the best meat for a showcase, but I coincidentally had them today for dinner, so took a photo. But it's not about the look: same as on my first try the taste is just great: a really thin crisp outer shell, and then juicy innards. Combination of steam cooking the meatballs, and then air frying them did wonders.
With meat it's not as pronounced, and it's harder to get this kind of consistent result, since you need to match the size of meat, but regular chicken fillet also gets cooked through-out, evenly, and with a crispy crust around it. Rice is also cooked nicely, and it is very consistent. Every time it's not undercooked or overcooked, but cooked exactly to the right condition, same as the vegies. The pot also is easy to clean after it, which is a huge plus. By the way, try making a mix of rice, bulgur and couscous (all 3 about equally) and then cook that same as described above, but with 300 milliliters of water: this mix feels extra hearty and filling.
In short, I am really pleased with this purchase. Preparation and cleaning take the same amount of time, with cleaning possibly being a bit faster even, and I have 20 minutes, that I can spare on anything else, without a worry in my head. Not to mention, that I do save quite a bit of money compared to ready meals.
There are a couple minor things, that could have been better, though:
- I had to buy a step-down transformer. I order Speedi from US, completely forgetting that they have different plugs that EU, which did not seem to be a problem, until I also realized that the device delivered supports only US electricity, too. On one hand - my own fault, that I did not read carefully, but on the other hand, a lot of modern devices can run with both US and EU voltages and frequencies.
- You cannot change from Fahrenheit to Celsius. Which seems like a very simple thing to make in the software.
- Some modes (like dehydration) are region or even store locked. I do not see a reason to do that other than to annoy people.
- Temperature steps are often limited, that is you can't setup precise temperature, but need to select one of those available for the selected mode.
- The lid, which is used for the 2nd layer has a very small handle. After things are cooked you have to use tongs or something similar to pick it up, and most likely you can do that only after you picked up the food from it.
- The actual lid for the cooker opens only at 90 degrees, that is it stays perpendicular to the pot. Since it had a heating element, depending on how the cooker is positioned, it may be possible for you to accidentally touch the heat element when getting food out. If it was opening at something like 120 degrees, it would have been less of a hazard.
- Recipes suggest to use some extra mode, if your grains/pasta still have some water left, but if you have food on the metal lid, to check that you would need to remove the food and the metal lid first, which is a hassle. On the other hand, I do not see another way around this, unless the 2nd layer is done with some swivel mechanism.