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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
close this folderDrudgery reduction
View the documentDrudgery-reducing implements for farm women
View the documentFuel-efficient chulhas
View the documentSolar cookers
View the documentBiogas as a rural energy source
View the documentEfficient fuel energy utilisation

Solar cookers

Households can save money, save labour, and preserve the environment by using the free energy of the sun to cook food. About 60 percent of energy used in rural areas in India is used for cooking. This comes from fuelwood, agricultural waste, animal dung, coal, and kerosene. Aside from the cost of these fuels and the long hours spent collecting them, there is also an environmental cost Demand for fuelwood, for instance, is causing deforestation which leads to floods and erosion.

Why buy a solar cooker?

- Savings-solar cookers use no fuel and are cheap to maintain
- Safety-no fires, no electric shocks, no gas leaks
- Time-saving-cook four items at a time
- Convenience-very little attention is required
- Simplicity-solar cookers are simple to use
- Nutrition-solar cooking preserves the nutritive value of food
- Flavour-food is cooked slowly so flavour is retained
- Cleanliness-no smoke and no soot


Solar cookers do not work well in early morning, late afternoon, or on cloudy days.

Parts of the solar cooker

There are six main parts to a solar cooker

1 Outer box-made of galvanized iron or aluminium.

2 Inner cooking tray-made of sheet aluminium painted black to absorb the sun's radiation

3 Double glass lid-with a 1-cm air space between the sheets of glass for insulation and a rubber gasket to prevent heat leakage

4 Thermal insulating material- such as glass wool, packed between the outer box and the inner tray

5 Mirror-fixed on the inside of the outer box lid to focus the sun's rays on the cooking containers and cooking tray

6 Cooking containers (with covers)

-of aluminium or stainless steel, painted black on the outside to absorb the sun's radiation

How to use a solar cooker

1 Keep the solar cooker in the open in direct sunlight for at least 45 minutes before loading it with cooking pots. This will reduce the cooking time.

2 From time to time, adjust the position of the cooker and mirror to focus the sun's rays on the cooking pots and cooking tray.

3 Open the glass lid of the solar cooker, place the cooking pots inside and close the lid. As much as possible, keep the lid closed. Opening the lid will cause heat to escape and prolong cooking time.


- When cooking is complete, leave the lid open for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the pots to cool down.
- Use cloth potholders when removing pots from the cooker.
- When opening the cooker's glass lid, keep your face and body away to avoid steam burn.


- The outside of the pots and the surface of the inner tray should be painted black from time to time. Avoid scratching the paint.

- When cooking is complete, clean the cooker with a dry cloth. Wipe both sides of the double glass lid and mirror with a soft clean duster before and after using the cooker.

Useful tips

- Cut vegetables into small pieces before cooking.

- Softer cereals and pulses in water before cooking.

- Do not overfill the pots (ingredients and cooking water combined should about reach the middle of the pot).

- Keep containers covered while cooking.

- Before roasting, grease the pot and smear the food with oil. Leave the pot lid off.

- Spices should be added before and after cooking, but not during cooking. Frequent opening of the glass cooker lid and pot lids will result in heat loss and prolonged cooking time.

- Keep the cooking tray and pots painted black.

- To avoid scratching the black paint, remove cooking pots before transporting the cooker.

- Store the cooker closed, in a safe, sheltered place.

Recipes for solar cooker

Alu Methi


250 g small potatoes

salt, chillies, and

(diced into small pieces)

turmeric powder to

100 g fresh methi

taste and 11/2 tbs

groundnut oil


1 Before cooking, clean and cut the methi leaves, apply salt, and leave for one hour.
2 Subsequently, squeeze the water from methi and wash it thoroughly in a strainer.
3 Heat oil and put turmeric powder and chillies in it.
4 Add potatoes and salt, place it in the pot and put it in solar cooker for about 30 minutes.
5 Add methi, uncover the pot, and leave for about 30 minutes.



200 g cauliflower

salt, turmeric, and

1/2 inch piece of ginger

chillies to taste

1/2 tsp jeera

2 tbs oil

1 tomato


1 Cut cauliflower into small pieces.

2 Heat oil and put in jeera, turmeric powder, chillies, salt, and cauliflower.

3 Pour it into a pot, cover, and place it in the cooker.

4 After about 30 minutes, cut the tomato and add it to the pot. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Chicken curry


250 g chicken
1 onion
1 tomato garlic, ginger, dhania powder, jeera powder, chillies, salt and pepper for seasoning
2 tbs oil
1/2 cup (lukewarm) water
1 peeled and finely cut potato
1 tomato either grated or blanched for seasoning and mashed.


1 Mix all the ingredients, except the tomato, and place in a covered pot in the solar cooker for about 40 minutes.

2 Add the tomato.

3 Remove after 10-15 minutes. Mix thoroughly, pass through a sieve, and serve.

Chutney fish


1 pomfret 7-8 cloves garlic half lemon
1/4 tsp turmeric powder salt
2 green chillies coriander leaves, coconut, and roasted gram 1 tbs oil.


1 Clean the fish and make gashes on both sides and smear with salt.

2 Grind garlic, coriander leaves, coconut, roasted gram, chillies, turmeric powder, and salt into a "chutney".

3 Add lemon juice.

4 Cover fish with this chutney and put it in a greased pot or on a greased griddle.

5 Do not cover the container. Place it in solar cooker for about 40 minutes


Remember to preheat for at least 45 minutes.


If mustard fish is to be made, the fish pieces should be marinated in a ground paste of 10 g mustard seeds, 6 green chillies, salt and oil. After marination for 30 minutes, the fish should be kept in the solar cooker uncovered for about 30 minutes.


150 g arhar dal
350 ml water
10 g ghee
I l/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp haldi powder
1/4 tsp red chill) powder
1/2 tsp garam masala


1 Pick, wash, and soak for an hour a measured amount of dal.
2 Mix water, dal, ghee, salt, red chill), and haldi powder in the cooking pot.
3 Cover with a lid and keep it in the preheated solar cooker for 30 minutes.
4 When cooked, garnish with garam masala.

Masala chicken

Ingredients 500 g chicken (cut into eight pieces) 250 g onion I pod garlic 1/2 inch piece of ginger 3 tomatoes 1/2 tsp each of dhania powder and jeera powder, salt, turmeric powder and chillies to taste 2 the oil and I lemon


1 Wash the chicken and smear it with salt, turmeric powder, and lemon juice. Leave aside for 30 minutes.

2 Grind onion, garlic, and ginger into a paste and fry in oil until the oil starts leaving the sides of the vessel.

3 Add jeera powder, dhania powder, salt, chillies, and turmeric powder.

4 Place chicken in the solar cooker container and pour the cooked masala on top.

5 Add sliced tomatoes.

6 Leave it in the solar cooker for about 40 minutes.

Plain rice

1 cup rice
2 cups lukewarm water


1 Wash and soak the rice for 1 5 minutes.
2 Put the rice and water in the cooking pot.
3 Put the covered pot in the solar cooker for about 40 minutes.

Rice and Dal Khichri



1 cup rice

1 Wash and soak rice and dal together for 60 minutes. Drain.

3 cups water

2 Heat oil and fly ginger, pepper, and jeera lightly.

¼ cups moong

3 Add rice and dal and put it into a dish. Add lukewarm water. Add salt to taste.


4 Cover it and leave it in the cooker for about 30 minutes.

a small piece

5 Stir it and leave it in solar cooker for another30 minutes.

of finely cut

ginger, jera,

salt, and

pepper for


1 tbs ghee