Managing leftover food is something that Indian moms do particularly well. Both our moms would ensure they minimized wastage and tried to get creative about using up leftovers to make them interesting to eat. Phodnichya polya or phodnicha bhat (spiced chapatis or spiced rice) was an easy fix to elevate leftover chapatis or rice, made by frying some mustard seeds, turmeric, green chilli, curry leaves, onions and red chilli powder and then adding crumbled chapatis or rice. In Aniruddha’s home the same dish took the shape of bread ki sabzi (bread vegetable), and also dim pau-ruti bhaja (literally egg bread fry), which was nothing but a savoury Indian french toast.

This philosophy has definitely made its way into our kitchen. For me, managing wastage starts with menu planning for the week and then picking up vegetables & groceries for what we have planned to cook. This has definitely helped us both reduce what we buy, because often as food enthusiasts we would toss many things into our cart and either never find the time to cook or forget we had picked it up! With planning we end up with less stuff going bad or going past expiry dates.

And never has managing what we buy and reducing food wastage been more important than the current circumstances in which we find ourselves.

So we thought we would start to post the recipes of dishes we’ve tried that have helped make leftovers more interesting and tasty. Perhaps this sparks new ideas in your head, so do write in and let us know how you’re dealing with leftovers đŸ™‚

Risotto to Arancini

It all started with the pea risotto that we made earlier in the week. It was really delicious, but there was a whole lot of it and of course we couldn’t possibly finish it between the three of us at home. So we saved it and a few days later made Arancini. Arancini are an Italian snack that are made of rice balls, stuffed with cheese and then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. We had some leftover brie (instead of the usual mozzarella) in the fridge also, so the stage was set for some delicious late evening snacks. We adapted the recipe by Molly Baz from Bon Appetit.

This link also has a fantastic recipe for a Calabrian Chile sauce. We did not have all the ingredients so improvised with tomato paste, Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow style Chilli oil and lemon juice. No proportions as such – I just mixed and adjusted as per taste.

Vegetable & Lentil pancake

The risotto also gave us the next two dishes in the same week. To cook the risotto we needed stock, and so we decided to make a vegetable stock at home. The stock was made with carrots, onions and spices like bay leaf and peppercorns and was lovely and flavourful. But once we had strained the stock, we were left with a big batch of cooked vegetables! So what to do with these??

I decided to go to my tried & tested solution of making cutlets. To give the cutlets more body I soaked, cooked and added some lentils – in this case black eyes peas or chawli. Other lentils like kidney beans (rajma) or chickpeas (chhole) would have worked just as well. I then added some ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, salt, chilli powder and freshly chopped coriander. This produced a fairly large portion of the vegetable & lentil mixture, so I divided it into two portions, used half to make the cutlets and put the other half into the freezer for later use.

To make cutlets, the mixture was a little wet, so I added about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs to help it hold together better. I then fashioned them into cutlets and shallow fried them on a low heat to allow each side to get nice & crisp. Unfortunately forgot to take pictures of them!

However I did take pictures of the second half-portion, which we used up a few days later! For the remaining portion, I decided to take inspiration from a zucchini & potato pancake recipe that we make quite often. I added one beaten egg to the vegetable & lentil mixture as a binding agent and set it to cook in a nice even layer in a pan – like a thick pancake.

I cooked this on a low heat to allow it to get nice and crisp, then grated some parmesan cheese on top, and put it into the oven, which had been pre-heated to 180°. This baked for about 15 mins, after which I took it out and slid it out on a plate. I added a little more oil into the pan and then flipped the pancake upside down into the pan, to allow the side that had been facing up to also get a little crisp. This took another 7-8 mins. I then turned off the heat, let it cool a little, cut wedges and served it with a side of coriander & coconut chutney that I had made earlier.

So there’s how one Risotto gave rise to 3 other dishes that were delicious and ensured we used up cooked leftovers and other ingredients in the house efficiently. Look out for more leftover recipes as we head into an extended stay at home period!