What Are You Calling Leftover?


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Most people find it almost impossible to cook just the right quantity of food, especially while serving up large meals. All you need to do is master the art of turning leftovers into a new dish, reckons Radha Prathi.

Changing lifestyles and tastebuds have made it increasingly difficult to keep leftover food from being dumped, especially after festivals and functions. But a little effort, invested in recycling leftovers, can prove to be quite rewarding. Long before the refrigerator and microwave arrived on the scene, our grandmothers turned leftover cooked rice into chitranna, vadas into dahi vadas, and metamorphosed idlis into upma.
Most of us find it almost impossible to cook just the right quantity, especially when we serve up large meals, and land up wasting a lot of food. We really need to master the art of turning leftovers into a new dish.

Here’s how:

n If you are saddled with traditional leftovers like kosambari, usili or sundals of different varieties, check them for freshness and grind them together. Add two cups of rice flour to one cup of the paste and beat the same into a batter. They can be turned into crisp dosas and served with chutney of your choice.

n Leftover salads taste best when they are steam-cooked and flavoured with pepper, salt and a pinch of turmeric. Feel free to add any masalas you like.

n If you have some leftover vegetable    curry, you can turn it into a delightful chutney. Sauté the curry once again. Boil a fairly large potato for every cup of curry. Toss them all together and grind them into a fine paste. Heat very little oil in a large pan, and add mustard, channa dal, turmeric powder, and green chillies to it. Once they splutter, add the paste, and keep turning them over till they blend well. Turn off the heat and the new chutney can be served with hot chapatis or used to make sandwiches. Leftover popcorn, plain cornflakes, beaten rice, which have lost their crispness or for that matter any leftover cereal or food grain in negligible quantities can be ground into chutneys or into dosa batters.

n If you have plenty of sambhar, first fish out all the vegetables, soak them in hot water for a minute or two and it can be eaten with the next batch of noodle you make. As for the sambhar, boil another batch of vegetables and add it to the sambhar. Roast some coriander seeds and red chillies, grind them coarsely along with some curry leaves. Toss the cooked vegetables, the new additional masala, and some salt into the sambhar and allow it to come to a simmer on a low flame. You will have fresh sambhar from the leftover one!

n Leftover papads, fried munchies, vadas, bhajjis and bondas tend to lose their crispness very soon. Wrap them in a tissue
paper for about half a day to help them release the excess oil. Break them into little pieces and heat them in a microwave oven or a pan over low fire for about thirty seconds and toss them into any raita of your choice. They can also be added to soups, with some additional seasonings.

n Leftover oils of pickles and chutneys can be used to flavour puffed rice. Heat a large pan and pour the flavoured oil along with salted puffed rice. Turn them over and over, until they blend. Turn off the flame, and you will have crisp, unique and tangy snack ready for the evening.

n Remnants of different kinds of   traditional sweets and savouries can be made into an interesting dish. The same should be wrapped in a clean tissue paper for a day, to absorb the excess fat. Blend all the sweets together, along with a few slices of salted bread slices using your hands. Take a cup of maida, add a pinch of salt to it, add a little water, and then, beat it into a batter. Toss a cup of the
mixture to the batter and cook them like     cutlets. They can be served hot with
tomato ketchup.

n The remnant sugar syrup of jamoons and rasgullas, can be made into an instant sweet snack when you toss pieces of
toasted bread into it.

n Betel leaves have a tendency to pile up, post festivals and weddings. You can     prepare your own homemade syrup for sore throats, colds, dry coughs and
tummy aches. First, wash the leaves individually with warm saltwater and wipe them clean. Clip out the stalk and the decaying edges. Take a litre of water and bring it to a boil. Toss about ten granulated black pepper corns and the cleaned betel leaves. Allow the mixture to simmer on slow fire till the water boils down to half a litre. Add a cup of palm sugar to the mixture and store it in an airtight bottle. A spoonful of the mixture taken two or three times a day can prove to be an effective and handy panacea in times of need.

n Broken and damp biscuits of every variety can be tossed together till you
accumulate a cupful. Then powder the biscuits coarsely with your hands. Heat a pan and toss the granules in. Put off the heat and allow the granules to roast for a minute. Caramelise a cup of sugar with a pinch of salt and add the roasted biscuit granules to the caramel while it is still very hot. Oil a plate and pour the mixture into it. Cut the same into little pieces while it is still warm and you will have created your own brand of sweet.

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