Dealing with Leftovers

-Sadichchha Dhakhwa

No matter how hard you try not to waste, there will always be some leftover food time and again. They can sometimes cause indecision–do you throw them out or do you refrigerate them for use the next day? Wasting food does make you feel guilty and we hence tend to avoid taking such measures and hence it is a normal intuitive decision to try using them in some other dish. A group of women, some participants of the Healthy Life Knorr Recipe Contest, later joined by Chef Sandeep KC, got together in Dega Restaurant to discuss possible solutions to the problem.
Among the many cuisines in the world today, Nepalis still tend to stick with the traditional daal bhaat and tarkari. There is no doubt that there will be times when there are bound to be some leftovers, especially rice. Leftovers are a problem in every household, there is no escaping it.
Dealing with Rice
Rice—possibly the food consumed most in all households. It is an important part of our diet; we cook rice almost everyday and never seem to get tired of it. Having leftover rice is also quite normal. As Tasneem Sahani, owner of Tasneem’s Indian Cuisine, explains: the most obvious solution to this problem is to make fried rice out of it. Fried rice tastes good and is also a favorite among children.
Tulika Agarwal, a homemaker and an enthusiastic cook, presented another solution. The recipe was quite unique; making pancakes out of the leftover rice. The recipe was simple: replacing most of the flour with rice and adding cottage cheese and mixing it to make the pancake batter. It was a recipe for a rather delicious and filling breakfast.
This was not the only solution she presented—the second was a part risotto and partly baked dish. As she described the use of leftover rice for this dish, taste buds came to life longing for the extravagant mix of flavors. What she described uses white sauce, tomato sauce, chopped onions and capsicum as well as cooked macaroni. What she described vaguely reminded me of lasagna using rice and macaroni as the distinctive layers. She explained about mixing rice with the sauce and using it different layers, and placing it in the oven for baking.
Karishma Agarwal, owner of the Pranic Healing Center, offered an interesting method to make use of khichadi. She presented an easy recipe—mixing khichadi in dough with finely chopped onions and red or green chilly with salt to taste. Although the mixture seems strange, she vouches for a good taste with a soft texture in the parathas. There is also no need to make any other vegetable or curries. If you want, you could try raita or simple chutney.
Another growing popular trend in food is noodles. Every child growing up wants to have noodles as an alternative for food and there is no surprise that this may as well be another popular leftover food. Karishma Agarwal shared her thoughts on this matter. Her solution is to make some white sauce, add cheese and coriander, some chilly and salt and pepper and make balls out of it. You then deep fry it and have it as a snack.   
Badam Katli
Raj Rani Lohia, a homemaker, pointed out a leftover problem during the Dashain-Tihar season: the excess of sweets. A sweet she provided an example of was the badam katli—an Indian sweet made out of almonds and ghee. The solution was to refrigerate it and make it into halwa when you desire. The recipe is simple: grind and sauté it with hot milk and a small amount of sugar. Add cardamom and keshar and it is ready.
Other Ideas
The other ideas discussed included the use of grinded cashews and almonds as they grow soft and using it in gravies to have an enhanced flavor. As bananas start to go bad, an idea is to wrap it in plastic and deep-freeze it. If there is an excess of bananas, a solution is to make banana cakes out of it. Another interesting idea that came up was using the skin of peas to make soup. The process is simple, boil and grind it and mix corn flour, cream, onion and salt to taste.
When you make parathas and rotis, and there are leftovers, a way to utilize them would be to make lasagna. Instead of using the lasagna sheets, use the rotis to make layers between fillings depending on your choice of vegetables and/or non-vegetarian choices.
Sweet and Sour and Hot and Sweet
Chef Sandeep KC joined in the discussion sharing his views on food. He explained that it was inspiring to see innovations in the food industry. He explained that there is no such thing as original dishes and they have not existed since the establishment of the Silk Road that promoted trade and led to trading between countries not only goods but also ideas. He emphasized on the point that it is important to play with dishes and there is nothing wrong with it—it is the start of making of a good chef—daring and innovative. “There are two flavors we crave the most—sweet and sour and hot and sweet,” he explained.
The discussion session came to an end with the crucial topic of refrigeration. Nepal is a country with troublesome electricity. It is important hence to know how to store food properly. Chef Sandeep KC emphasized on the use of ziplock bags and airtight containers. The temperature of the fridge should not be higher than 7° C.
Despite our measures to store food carefully and properly to ensure freshness, there will be instances when we find the food going bad. When concerned with fruits and vegetables like carrots, the easiest solution is to preserve them as pickles. Fruits can be preserved as homemade jams. This reduces wastage and also ensures that money is not wasted.
Chef Sandeep KC also emphasized that 40 % of food is wasted all around the world. This wastage comes from unwanted foods—purchased food items that were not necessarily needed. He recommends using vegetables that have minimum wastage, for example, carrots: 5 %, eggplants: 3 %, zucchini: 3 %. “Plants like coriander have no taste and is only used for presentations, there is no need to use more coriander than you need,” he explained. n

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