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Posted at: Apr 16, 2017, 12:07 AM; last updated: Apr 16, 2017, 12:07 AM (IST)GRUB STREET

Making the best use of leftovers

It is all about using and re-using everything till nothing is left
Making the best use of leftovers

Slachi Jain

In India, almost 40 per cent of the food is wasted. Surprisingly, this waste is not just the fault of restaurants and vegetable markets, but is also created in our kitchens. This leads to more garbage in the landfills and less money in your pocket. This is where the current trend of zero-waste cooking comes in.

Zero waste is all about using and re-using everything till nothing is left. This practice has helped a lot of households stretch their budgets, given them a healthier lifestyle and lessened the amount of waste. This style of cooking can be challenging. However, a little planning makes it a manageable practice. Start this by integrating small changes at home.

Shop realistically

This involves measuring and knowing what to buy. Simply put, avoid overbuying. To reduce impulsive purchases, go for a shopping trip only when you actually need of it.

Freeze the surplus

When you want to store excess food, freeze it. You could also leave a sticky note on the freezer for reference for what went in first.

Best of ‘waste’

Take a long look into your cupboards and fridge to make sure that there is no leftover before you start cooking a fresh meal. You can transform leftovers into peculiar dishes. For example, you can turn stale bread into bread crumbs that could be eaten with salad or soup.

Eat seasonal produce

Seasonal food is not only tasty as compared to packaged products, but also extremely affordable with a longer shelf life. This benefits everybody, including the local farmers and communities.

Make smoothies to combat soggy waste

Fruits and vegetables do not have to be trashed just because they get soggy. Soft and soggy produce can be transformed into delicious smoothies and soups.

Implementing these small changes can make a difference is the amount of food wasted by each household every year which also keeps the population healthy.

Bread Chilla

Preparation time: 20 minutes 

Serves: 4 


  • 2 bread slices
  • ¾ cup sooji 
  • 3 tsp gram flour 
  • 1 ½ cup curd 
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste 
  • 1 tsp chopped green chilli
  • Oil to grease chillas
  • 1 medium-sized chopped tomato
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger 
  • 2 medium-sized chopped onions 
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves 


  • Crumble the bread slices. Mix all the ingredients except for the chopped vegetables and oil and keep it for around 10-15 minutes. 
  • Add all the chopped vegetables and mix well. Heat a non-stick pan and pour a tsp of oil. Wait till it’s hot.
  • Spread the bread batter (a tbsp) into thick rounds of 2 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. 
  • Cook on a medium flame for around 1-1 ½ minutes till they turn brown. 
  • Flip it carefully and wait till it turns brown. 

Serve it hot with tomato ketchup or coriander chutney.

Poha Pakodas

Preparation time: 25 minutes 

Serves: 4 

  • 1 cup leftover poha
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped spinach leaves 
  • ½ cup crushed corn kernels
  • 1 mashed potato
  • 3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste  
  • Oil to deep fry


  • Remove out excess water from onion and spinach. 
  • Add to it to poha, along with all the other ingredients. 
  • Bind it into a soft mixture. Drop small lumps of mixture in very hot oil. 
  • Deep fry it in hot oil, on low flame till it turns golden and crisp. 
  • Serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Gourd Peel Delight

Preparation time: 15 minutes 


Serves: 4 

  • 1 cup gourd peel 
  • ½ tsp oil 
  • 1 tbsp gram flour
  • ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste (optional) 
  • A pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder 
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds 
  • ½ tsp green chilli 
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup water 
  • Salt to taste 


  • Slice thin peels of the bottle gourd.
  • Make a batter of gram flour (besan) and water. Add sugar and stir well. Keep it aside. 
  • Add cumin seeds and the peels along with salt and turmeric. Sauté till they become tender.
  • Add garlic paste and green chilli and the batter. Stir it vigorously till it starts leaving the sides. Take it off the flame and add lemon juice. Garnish with coriander.


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