Saudi Arabia: The Quest for the Crock Pot

I’m often asked what is one thing an expatriate should bring to Saudi Arabia that is not available there.  After careful thought and consideration, my answer is the crock pot!

In spite of having domestic help at my home in Riyadh I always enjoyed the convenience of the one dish meal in the crock pot.  Both  my husband and I worked so it was nice to know that we would come home and a tasty meal would be waiting for us.

I took my large crock pot from the US with me to Saudi Arabia but shortly after arrival it stopped working.  My kitchen had both 110 and 220 voltage and someone had accidentally plugged it into the wrong voltage.  Hence, my search for a new replacement crock pot began.

Seeing that Saudi Arabia had so much from all over the world to choose from in the local markets and vast shopping malls, I thought it would be straight forward and simple to find a replacement crock pot.  Hah!

I went to appliance stores, I went to electronic stores, I went to the malls and even the local souks.  There were no crock pots.  I checked out the (very few) specialized kitchen and cooking stores.  No crock pots.  Finally, as I was about to give up on finding a crock pot in Riyadh, my husband and I ventured into Saaco, which is similar to an Ace Hardware store.  It was my husband who found it first and brought it to my attention on whether it would work for us.  He had found a rice cooker which had a crockery insert.  It was not as large as my old crockpot but I was not about to quibble.  It was the first thing we had found which had some semblance and the same utility of a crock pot.  We bought it.

It worked but I found I had to prepare smaller crock pot meals.  I also discovered that I liked having the dual use as a rice cooker too.

During my search I learned that most Saudi families either did not know what a crock pot was or had no use for one.  Most Saudi families have domestic help in the kitchen and many Saudi women choose to be full time homemakers.  As a result there is not the same market demand or interest to have a crock pot.  I guess that is why they are difficult to find in the local Saudi markets.

23 Responses

  1. While we were in Qatar, we had a similar problem. No crock pots were available. After a few years there, lo and behold, a few crock pots.
    I quickly bought two, in case the insert were to get broken (which eventually happened when my wife banged it against the sink, after losing her grip on it).
    For months, no more new crock pots. The locals who saw me grabbing two asked what they were and I mentioned, make a one pot meal, turn on the crock pot in the morning, come home from work to see dinner ready. Some Brits also had asked, getting the same answer.
    The crock pots sold out in a day.
    A few months later, when they brought a few more in, I bought two more, just for insurance.
    They also sold out in two days… :)

    There were times that we had two crock pots going, our stove and our neighbor’s stove (our Saudi friend) when we both entertained, where we’d get 30-50 people over for a meal.
    I used to joke with Riad that we REALLY needed commercial stoves. ?

  2. Carol, what were your favorite things to prepare in the crock pot when you lived in KSA?

  3. I am speechless to say the least.

  4. I also brought a crockpot with me to Saudi. And plugged it into the wrong voltage and part of the outer casing melted! I found a replacement crockpot at Saco a few years back. I see them there occasionally. Generally, Saudi’s use pressure cookers where I would use a crockpot. Sometimes people have several and cook different things in each. I used my crockpot just yesterday I made soup.

  5. Come to Kuwait! We’ve got tons of them. City Center, Lulu’s Hypermarket, The Sultan Center, True Value – everybody’s got ’em.:) Maybe I should start a business…. hmmmmm……

    You can write to me, maybe we an work something out. [email protected].

  6. I never left home without it, as well as my fabreware rotisserie cooker. Soups, chili, pot roast, and echilada meat wouldn’t be the same without it.

  7. I’m more a pressure cooker person too. I do use a crock pot to cook beans and stuff without soaking but i’m not too happy leaving home with it cooking away:-)

    cultural differences i guess, everyone in india uses a pressure cooker- though i’m sure a crock pot is safer a cooker uses less cooking gas and is faster.

  8. I got my crock pot online, Some online sites will ship anywhere in the world, It can be hard to find but once you do it is well worth it:) I love my crock pot!

  9. Strangely I am just learning to use a crock-pot. I have no idea why I did not have one on the go all the years I was working and raising my kids. Now that there are just the two of us I use it quite a lot as I really don’t want to cook anything when I come home from work.
    I have never used a pressure cooker either but they are certainly put to use a lot among my family members in Sudan and KSA.

  10. Radhaa, the pressure cooker is faster, due to the higher temperature and pressure.
    The crock pot can be set up in the morning and run all day, having dinner ready for when you get home.

    Wendy, I use my pressure cookers very little. The primary use I put pressure cookers to work for is canning. The other main use is to cook pumpkin, I can fully cook pumpkin in 10 minutes with the pressure cooker, 1/3 of the time in an oven. :)

  11. I introduced my Saudi family to good ole’ American style chili with my crockpot! I also used it for roasts, chickens and soups.

    I could easily have used 2 crockpots or even 3 when entertaining. They are a great way to serve a good balanced meal without having to take away a lot of kitchen time when you have guests.

  12. I used to make a killer lamb stew, with barley, which I’d then stuff in puff pastry squares as finger food. I’d fill a 15 inch bowl with them, they’d not last long.
    Then, there’s my lentil soup, also made in the crock pot, which always had rave reviews.

  13. If anyone would like to share their favorite crock pot recipes, please do!!!

  14. A Malaysian recipe using crock pot:-) Coconut Jam
    One of my fave jam has to be the ‘kaya’ aka coconut jam
    Its easy
    1 cup eggs
    1 cup coconut milk
    1 and quarter cup sugar
    A few pandan leaves

    Using a stick blender, mix all the ingredients tgthr (except pandan leaves)
    Then sieve into crockpot,add the pandan leaves n cook for 7 hours on LOW. Take out the leaves n mix the mixture thorougly using the stick blender n walla, spread is ready to be served on a slice of bread or even cake.

  15. Sounds good, Mrs. B!

  16. Happy to oblige Carol. Wzrd, would you mind sharing the lamb stew recipe? I’m an addict to anything lamb!

  17. No crock pots in China either, but we do have a big rice cooker. You can get inventive if you try! Great post.:)

  18. wzrd1 – lentil soup recipe please:-)

    and to those crock pot experts, i use one, but most of the stuff i cook needs to sautee the onions,garlic,spices and chilies andthen add the remaining stuff and cook, in a pressure cooker i’d do this, add veggies/lentil, maybe add rice and spices and cook for 7min and the dish is ready, how do i do this in a crockpot, I’m sure a crock pot is tastier because of the slow cooking and also there’s the fact that hot food is ready when you get home.
    so pl let me know if i can sautein a crock pot. i usually stickto soups but i’m thinking a slow cooked rice dish may be terrific in a crock pot.

    again i’m no cooking expert. i leave that to my daughter ,but since she’ll be leaving soon i better get my game up to speed or me and F will be eating the basic 4dishes i know ALL the time.
    wzrd1 – pl send your recipe.

  19. I came across this blog some time ago and the author also has some cookbooks out. It is called A Year of Slow Cooking. There are some really good recipes and tips here including using tapioca for thickening rather than flour or cornstarch.

  20. I had to laugh at this blog. It has been something I’ve wanted too! There were none that I could find in Thailand and I had been keeping my eye out for one in Riyadh. I’ve moved to Dammam, does anyone have a suggestion where to find one there. I love my crockpot.

    While staying with my folks in Arizona, my mom uses hers at least 3 times a week. I’m just jealous :-> Unfortunately, I don’t have room to bring one back with me through the airlines.

  21. Hi Kelly,

    I’m not sure where to try looking in Damman but maybe you can get over to Bahrain and find one? Good luck!


  23. Hi there I am currently in Dammam and for months i have been looking for a crockpot

    I would just like to know what was the brand of the rice cooker that you bought and if it is sti working right now?

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