Here’s how to get creative with your leftover food

Leftovers can be put to use to whip up fancy dishes, with just a little thought and planning

Loathe to waste that leftover dal that you don’t want to have anymore? Make a paratha with it.

Perhaps one of the best options left is to go for a ‘leftover makeover’. Leftovers are a reality in any kitchen and all of us would have tried to transform them with a few makeovers. Those looking for more options may find #loveyourleftover on Instagram a useful hashtag to follow. So widespread is the leftover makeover habit, that it finds place in some standup comedy acts too.

Rice for instance, is very popular for its many makeover avatars; simple steamed rice is easily consumed in the form of pulihora, vegetarian or non-vegetarian fried rice, baathappam, snacks, sweets and more. Leftover rice also finds a mention in Australian chef Kylie Kwong’s recipes. During summer in some parts of India, leftover rice, is left to ferment overnight and consumed the next morning with a choice of sides.

During the lockdown, when actor Sameera Reddy along with her mother-in-law Manjri Varde showed a quick recipe of rotla made with leftover rice, it garnered over five million views on Instagram. In her ‘messy mama’ series, Sameera admitted that unlike others, she had nothing fancy to show for her cooking skills. She adds, “But I have the rotla from leftover rice. The video was appreciated because of the simplicity of the dish and the fact that it required no extra ordinary culinary skills. All one has to do is soak leftover rice in some curd, add chopped chillies, onions, coriander leaves and chilli powder, then add some flour and make it into a soft dough, roll it into a shapeless roti, drizzle some oil, cook until crisp.”

Raipur-based food photographer and author of My Indian Kitchen Swayampurna Mishra however, likes to give her leftover rice a fancy twist. She loves making something like arancini. She says, “Arancini is made with leftover risotto. However I do something similar with basmati rice instead of arborio, because, let’s face it, no one makes risotto enough to have leftovers. I add some spices to the rice, which is slightly overcooked. Then add paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and salt and cracked black pepper. I also make a filling with sun-dried tomato pesto or roasted red bell pepper purée. To make them, wet your hands and spread a spoonful of the rice-spice mix, add a little cream cheese or mozzarella, add the filling (make it slightly spicy for a real flavour bomb), add a bit more rice on top and shape into balls. Once this is done, dip them in egg (beaten, of course), coat with fine breadcrumbs (I use only panko breadcrumbs, but grind it a bit for a finer texture). Add seasoning to the crumbs before rolling in the rice balls. Fry in oil, remove, drain on kitchen napkin and serve immediately with your choice of condiment.”

However, Swayampurna’s go-to leftover makeover recipe is the matar (peas) paratha. She says “It is easy and my absolute favourite.”

Mumbai-based blogger Kalyan Karmakar, in one of his blogposts, mentions how he repurposed leftovers from the fridge into spectacular dishes during the lockdown. He also says #loveyourleftover has been his anthem during this time. “I love using leftover kebabs to make kathi rolls for breakfast. I made a truly epiphanic lunch with orange emulsion that accompanied a dish — an almond and coriander-crusted John Dory — I had ordered from the Trident BKC. I had a feeling that it would go well with offal. I took out some chicken liver from the freezer, thawed it and tossed it in a pan with sliced onions, green capsicum salt and pepper in olive oil. I added a bit of the orange emulsion to the sauteed chicken liver at the end before turning off the flame. Any longer and it would get burnt and bitter. I drizzled in a bit more of the orange emulsion on the plate before serving it with grilled sourdough bread.

He adds, “Later a reader, Rahul Jha, DM-ed me on Instagram saying that Heston Blumenthal apparently has a dish called ‘meat meets fruit’, which also involves liver, orange and sourdough.”

The trick with dal

Did you know that leftover dal can be used to knead flour and the resultant rotis or parathas turn out soft, fluffy and tasty? Hyderabad-based home baker Arundati Rao often mentions this during her cooking classes. She says plain leftover dal made with red lentil and tuvar is best to knead flour with. Alternatively, if there is too much left over, add chopped onions, chillies and spices to turn your dal into a dhaba-style dal tadka.

Kalyan also alters gravy from chicken curry by adding boiled eggs and turning it into egg curry. A similar taste, but a whole new dish to tuck in to.

Courtesy: The Hindu


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