Namaste everyone. Erica here with some exciting news…
OUR STOVE WORKED!
You heard right, ladies and gentlemen. Our second prototype performed positively. Here’s what happened…
This morning, we headed to Dolatpura with the intention of testing our second stove prototype. Sumitraben told us to be on time, ten o’clock sharp, so that she could cook for her family. We had pretty low expectations; when we tried to cook on our first stove prototype, Sumitra had to transfer her food to her old stove because it wasn’t heating enough. The rotla was only cooking in the middle!
But this time, everything was different. When we got to Dolatpura, we plopped down in a circle around the stove. I threw some paper in the opening to help start the fire. At first, the smoke was coming out the pot opening, but after the fire started, Sumitra put the flat roti pan on the stove and the smoke started coming out the chimney. We were all putting our hands over the pan and over the chimney to figure out how much heat there was. There was still heat coming out of the chimney, but the pan was significantly hotter.
Then, the real test began. Sumitraben threw a rotla onto the pan. It immediately made a sizzling noise. While the first side was cooking, Sumitra kneaded the dough for the second rotla. We watched her face carefully to try to figure out how things were going. Sumitraben flipped the rotla and started to flatten the second rotla with her fingers and palm. The rotla on the stove started to turn into a big pillow (that’s good!). Sumitra picked it off and threw on the second one. We began showering her with questions. She told us that the stove was plenty hot enough; the rolta was actually cooking faster than it usually does! She was more comfortable because there was less smoke.
After the rotla, Sumitra started cooking her kadi on the stove. This is a soupy, spicy curd. When she added the garlic and spices at first, it sizzled and bubbled. After she added water, the kadi started to boil. (WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!) We all kept our composure, but were inwardly bursting with excitement (see last comment in parentheses). There was virtually no smoke, which indicated that the increased airflow was allowing complete combustion of the fuel, and what little smoke there was went right up the chimney! In addition to the smoke, upon completion of the cooking, Sumitra told us that she did not need as much fuel as she usually does (the efficiency increased!!!).
All of this was quite exciting. We did get some feedback on materials and construction though. People were worried about the metal chimney because it got really hot to the touch and there are lots of children running around who could easily get burned. The pot for the kadi rocked a little bit on the stove because the pot opening wasn’t even. Lastly, people would prefer if the back of the stove was square backed instead of round. That way, the cooks could set utensils and pots on the stove.
We also shared with Sumitraben all of the chimneys that we made at the Setco factory on Thursday. She liked the completely round one and the hexagon one. We agreed to teach her how to make a chimney on Monday; she seemed confident that she would have no problem. Sumitra took the hexagon one to build another prototype at her farm, where people have been asking about the stove. Taking all of these into consideration, we decided to make one more prototype on Monday at Manojbhai’s house to solidify our design; we will make some small design changes (a concrete pipe! a perfectly round opening! a square back!) and teach Sumitra how to build the metal pieces in the stove.
So, this afternoon, we’re off to Kalol to buy some cement pipe (we’ll put it on top of the metal pipe to block the heat). This evening, we’re headed to dinner at lovely Salmaben’s house. Yay!
An incredible end to a successful day. Maybe I’ll take a nap to celebrate.