Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cooking with leftovers

Cooking with leftovers is so much fun. Doesn't the idea of cooking once eating twice sound lovely. Also with most of the preparatory work done it is almost like the chef getting the day off. The chef takes on the role of a magician giving the dish a new texture, form and when it is me even a new (most times an exotic one) name. The second time treats are as tasty if not better than the original. As a child I watched Mama add leftover mutton curry( which in its original form would not have sufficed for a family of five) to Toor daal, chinese noodles stuffed into omelettes, a quick pulao with leftover rice and so on. My grandpa used to make a really flavorsome dish called 'Pish Pash' with leftover rice. I used to think that the old man had been really creative in naming it so till my brother chanced upon the dish in a Dak Bunglow food festival. Then there is a friend who kneads leftover cooked saag into her dough to sneak in the greens. The possibilities are endless. Leftover mushroom baby corn saute can be added on to a green curry to give it a completely new flavor.

Rehashing leftovers gives me an instant high. Leftover keema matar into Keema Khichdi or leftover pasta into a salad. Had cooked traditional mutton curry(refer blog) for dinner last night and made a quick and easy pulao for the kids today.

Mutton Pulao


Leftover mutton curry: You need only a few pieces, reserve a few pieces with bones as that adds to the flavor
Basmati rice: 1 tea cup, suggest you use only Basmati or long grained doon rice for pulaos as they both look and taste better( a more khila khila pulao).
Whole spices: Cinnamon stick( one or two), green cardamom(3/4)
Bay leaves: 1/2( could add it from the mutton curry)
Ghee/oil: 1 tbsp( when I am making it for the kids I usually use ghee)
Onions: 2, finely sliced
Salt: to taste( the mutton has already been cooked with salt so go easy on it)


  • Soak the basmati rice for about a half an hour( you get longer grained rice that way)
  • Heat the ghee in the pressure cooker, add whole spices and the sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes
  • Drain water from the rice and add to the onion base.
  • Next add the mutton pieces and mix well
  • Add about half a tsp of salt
  • Add 1.5 cups of hot water( do add hot water as it prevents the rice from getting sticky, also helps cook faster).
  • Close the lid of the pressure cooker
  • Switch off the gas after one whistle and let the cooker cool.
  • Serve hot with a raita. I served mine today with a palak raita. Helps balance the meat out.

Palak Raita

Again had made this with some leftover cooked palak. Actually I tend to cook palak the day it is purchased and then add it to various dishes like stir fried veggies or to a pasta salad or like my good friend to atta dough. I even love a palak no spinach omelette( sounds better when you call it spinach omelette)


Palak: One bundle finely chopped
Garlic: 4/5 pods, again finely chopped
Olive oil: 1tbsp( try the Del Monte range, good and economical).
Curd: 1 cup
Sugar: a pinch
Black salt: to taste


  • Heat a kadai, add a tbsp of olive oil. Once the oil heats up add the garlic and saute for under a minute. Next add the palak, you may need to do this in batches if your kadai is small. Add salt and cook till done. Make this in large quantities and keep it handy in the refrigerator( it is otherwise painful to clean and chop palak each time). You can even store this in your freezer. Allow the palak to cool.
  • Whip curd with sugar, salt( I use the Roopak Dahi bhala masala, gives raitas a nice flavor), add about 2/3 tbsp of the cooked palak. Mix well and chill.
  • Serve with any pulao or as a raita with your regular meal
One could just go on and on about cooking with leftovers. In fact almost every dish you cook cam be rehashed differently, add boiled veggies to leftover daal, upma out of leftover idlis, dips into sandwich spreads, chutneys as flavoring for gravy dishes etc. etc. In fact after a point you purposefully make that little extra so that you can rustle up something quick with the leftover.


1 comment:

  1. our leftover chicken liver from curries would find its way into chicken liver sandwiches during my growing up days