Whenever hungry, Sakshi (14) and Ishna (8) run to the terrace of their Altamount Road building and dig into the sizzling butter cakes and crisp pizzas that wait for them in an aluminium suitcase-like solar cooker.
“They love it so much they don’t even leave a morsel,” said their mother, Smita Kharbanda (42).
A stock trader, Kharbanda places the ingredients in black-painted aluminium vessels, puts them in the solar cooker around 9.30 am and forgets about it.
Kharbanda and her neighbour Kumkum Somani have been using the solar cooker as much as possible to do their bit for the environment.
“It takes a minimum of three hours for the food to cook but at least we are not wasting cooking gas. I feel happy that I am not adding to the burden on the quickly depleting fossil fuels,” said Kharbanda.
Solar cookers are considered the best method for ‘green’ cooking as they use solar energy to cook food — they don’t emit any smoke or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The food cooks slowly, so it retains its natural flavour and nutritional value.
“My friends often come over to eat sun-cooked biryani. It’s very different and much tastier than regular biryani,” said Kharbanda.
Few people can boast of a personal terrace or garden in the city, but the environmentally conscious are making the best use of whatever space they have.
Kharbanda’s friend Rajul Kapadia (40) bought a solar cooker 10 days ago. “I don’t have access to a terrace so I have put it on my window ledge,” said the Peddar Road resident.
Apart from regular dal, rice and vegetables, Kapadia also makes moothia (a Gujarati snack) with the sun’s light.
At Kiran Pashte’s (53) home in Vasai, everyone, including the dogs, eat ‘green’ food since he brought home the solar cooker six months ago.
“We make our own lunch by 12.30 pm, then chicken is made for our dogs and most of the dinner is also done before the sun sets,” said the retried navy officer, who lives with his mother and sister.
Pashte said that he saves a lot of money by using the solar cooker.
“We hardly use the gas so a cylinder lasts for at least three months,” he said.