Solar cooking is one of the perks of living and working as a volunteer in Niger; a country rich in solar hours. Last Saturday, I posted a picture of a casserole destined for the sun. A lot of people wanted to know how the solar cooker worked, reminding me that it was time for a recap!

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Solar cooking is something I do on a regular basis, as often as the weather allows. In addition to our daily dinner casseroles (I have a few “favourite themes” but being big on improvisation, I rarely – if ever – cook the same dish twice), the solar cooker cooks rice, potatoes, millet or sorghum (for breakfast), bread and cakes.

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For this dish, I started off with a neutral base of vegetables, consisting of tomatoes, carrots and fresh corn. Tomatoes add moisture to a solar cooking casserole; carrots add sweetness, and the corn adds texture.

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I then added some seasonal green leaves (often labeled famine food by the West), which I harvested in my mother’s garden.

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Green leaves are a vital ingredients in most Nigerien sauces, and I love to cook using the as many local ingredients as possible.

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Finally, I added soaked dried mushrooms (a treat from the forests of Sweden…) and a large piece of liver. If you don’t like liver, any meat would do; or you can keep your casserole vegetarian. I then added some spices (a teaspoon of salt and a touch of pepper), and my simple ten-minute casserole was ready to meet the sun!

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The food is ready in a few hours on a good sunny day and the best thing about solar cooking is that you don’t have to watch your food. It just slow-cooks throughout the day without burning and is ready when you are.

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Everything was well cooked by the time I took it out.

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Being Swedish, I like to mix the casseroles with milk, so that it gets a creamy taste.

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The casserole was served with whole rice, steamed beans and some fried plantains. And voilà – my very first solar cooked liver stew! For more solar cooking recipes, click here.

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