Flame it on the sunshine: Thai solar chicken a hot hit

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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows food vendor Sila Sutharat turning the grates on a cart loaded with chicken as he cooks the white meat with rays of sun reflected on an oversized mirror panel on his property in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows food vendor Sila Sutharat pointing to chickens being cooked by rays of sun reflected onto an oversized mirror panel on his property in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows Mali Pansari, the wife of food vendor food vendor Sila Sutharat, carrying a tray of cooked chicken past an advertising panel displaying the photo of her husband at their eatery in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows Mali Pansari, the wife of vendor food vendor Sila Sutharat, tending to their eatery where they sell chicken and pork cooked by solar rays in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2017

Flame it on the sunshine: Thai solar chicken a hot hit

THAILAND: Not many chefs don a welding mask before they enter the kitchen, but Sila Sutharat prefers to cook his chicken sunny side up.
Two hours south of Bangkok this 60-year-old roadside vendor has found an ingenious way to offer his customers something a little different by harnessing the power of the sun.
Using a large wall of nearly 1,000 moveable mirrors — a device he designed and built himself — he focuses the sun’s rays onto a row of marinated chickens, sizzling away under the intense heat.
His unusual culinary methods raised a few eyebrows when he first hit upon the idea.
“They said that I’d gone mad, that cooking chicken like this was impossible,” he told AFP next to his stall, the row of sun-drenched chickens behind him too bright to look at for any length of time.
“After a long time passed by, they’d say: ‘Actually, you could do it’,” he added.
That’s because the the solar reflector generates intense heat, easily enough to match an oven, with a sunshine-baked chicken taking just twelve minutes to cook through.
For much of the last 20 years Sila grilled in relative obscurity for a fairly local crowd.
But after videos of his solar-cooker went viral online, people from across Thailand have flocked to his stall in Phetchaburi province.
Sila says the idea came to him in 1997 when he was struck by the heat reflecting off a passing bus.

“I thought, with this heat reflecting from the window from the sun, I could possibly change it into energy,” he said.
Sila says that compared to a traditional charcoal grill — which he used before his solar epiphany — his meat is more tender and evenly-cooked.
And given Thailand’s sweltering tropical climate, the sun is a free, clean and totally sustainable energy source.
“At the time, energy such as petrol and gas was becoming more expensive and suppliers were also running out of wood to sell,” he recalled.
“I thought if I used solar energy, I could save a lot. And it also decreases pollution.”
Sila and his wife Pansri now cook around 40 chickens — as well as several sides of pork — each day.
“We’ve been eating here for a long time,” said regular patron Thanyarat Kaewpaleuk, who was tucking into lunch with her husband.
“It’s delicious. His chicken is fatty, it’s not burned and doesn’t smell like a charcoal grill, which you can smell on the meat.”


5 reasons to add blueberries to your diet

Updated 31 May 2020

5 reasons to add blueberries to your diet

DUBAI: Devinder Bains, personal trainer and nutrition coach at Fit Squad DXB, shares her expert advice on the superfoods that will help you lead a longer and healthier life.

It’s hard to believe that this unassuming little berry, easily available at most food stores, is one of the healthiest things you could possibly eat. Blueberries can be enjoyed on their own, in breakfast bowls, smoothies, muffins and even as garnish on your pancakes and waffles. Here are five ways they can improve your health.

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DNA health

We need antioxidants to protect our cells from damage, and blueberries contain more antioxidants than almost any other food. The job of antioxidants is to combat free radicals in the body, which are increased by factors such as air pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol intake, poor diet, tissue damage, infections and excessive sunbathing. Too many free radicals can lead to damaged DNA, increasing the risk of many cancers and diseases.

Bone health

Blueberries are a good source of vitamin K, which works with calcium to build strong bones. A deficiency in the vitamin can often be a sign of osteoporosis. Vitamin K is also essential in the process of blood clotting and contributes to good heart health.

(Shutterstock)

Blood pressure and heart disease

The antioxidants in blueberries can also help to lower bad cholesterol, in turn making the heart’s job a little easier and lowering blood pressure. Observational studies have shown that proper intake of anthocyanins (the main antioxidants in blueberries) could reduce the risk of heart attacks by 32 percent.

Mental ageing

The oxidative stress that free radicals cause can also affect the brain and accelerate its ageing process. Studies have shown that eating blueberries can help improve brain function in older individuals with mild cognitive impairments and can also delay mental ageing by over two years.

Weight loss

Blueberries have just 40 calories per half a cup. They are about 85 percent water and high in fiber and are thus great for keeping you full and staving off hunger. Studies have also shown that the anthocyanin antioxidants present in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese patients and can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.