The fate of your leftover food – be it chicken from last night’s dinner or mithai from a festive celebration at home – doesn’t have to be the dustbin or your pet’s feeding bowl. Tasneem Shahani shares some of her useful tips on how to handle leftover food items and turn it into more appetizing edibles.

Tasneem Shahani is a housewife, who for the past eight years has been professionally involved in her food-takeaway venture – Tasneem’s Indian Cuisine. No formal training in cooking and yet Shahani has been able to make a mark with an ever-growing clientele which has thrived mostly on the word of mouth basis. Shahani makes use of the kitchen knowledge that has been handed down to her by her grandmother, mother and mother-in-law,and that of her own to create delicious and hygienic home-made food and chocolates.

Admit it. It hurts to have to waste food. “Be it the rich or the poor, there are leftovers in every household and no housewife enjoy throwing away food,” says Shahani. “People get tired of eating the same thing again the next day. When it comes to leftovers, it all depends on how appealing you can make it,” Shahani shares her trick. “Coming up with innovative ideas to cook leftovers is not only economizing, it also ensures that what is actually edible, isn’t going to waste and is a great way to get your brain thinking about how you can present the same food in a different way so that even your family doesn’t have to crib about eating the same thing over and over again. The kids will especially love it,” she continues. “The climate in Kathmandu is a bonus. Even when you leave food out in the open for a day, it does not spoil easily,” she says “hence, the leftovers can be eaten without having to worry about your health,” she continues. Where health is the question, as long as these leftovers are from home-cooked food, Shahani vouches that the recipes and tips are healthy ones.

A lot of what she knows, as far as how to deal with leftovers is concerned, is from her own experience as well as from what she has gathered from friends and housewives like herself, who have a passion for cooking and doing it economically. Shahani shares with us, some of these simple tips and tricks.

Daal (Lentil):
Be it masoor daal, toor daal or chana daal – any kind of daal can be used to make chapattis. Instead of using water, use the daal to knead the dough. Add finely cut onions, coriander, chili as seasoning in the dough and roll it out into fine chapattis.

Cashew, Almonds, Peanuts:
Dry fruits are always nice to have around in the house. But they are, very expensive. When stored for a long time, they turn soft and soggy and can no longer be eaten just like that. In this case, dry grind the nuts and fill it into jars and then refrigerate it. The powder can also be made into a paste and used as a base for any kind of curry to make it richer.

Bread sides or even the whole bread: dry it in the sun or in the oven to make it hard. Then powder it to make crumbs. They can be used as coating when you are deep frying meat or vegetables.

There is bound to be leftover rice at one point or another in your kitchen and there are many ways to cook it.

The simplest and most common is to turn it into fried rice. Improvise – add French beans, chicken, spring onions or whatever you like.

Pancakes. Grind the rice; add cardamom powder, nutmeg, eggs and milk to make your normal pancake batter.

Gulab Jamuns? That is doable too. Grind the leftover rice with elaichi. Make it into small balls and then deep fry it. Then dip it in the sugar syrup. Tastes just as good.

Leftover rice can also be mashed with paneer and cheese to be made into small balls which can be coated with semolina and deep fried to make cheese balls.

Any vegetable leftovers can be kneaded into dough to make chapattis.

Pea peels can be boiled. The stock can be made into a pea soup. Wash the peels, boil and strain; then add some oil, onions, salt and pepper to taste.

Leftover vegetables also make for good pakodas.

The minute the banana skin starts turning black, put it in a plastic bag. Seal it properly and keep it in the deep freezer. As and when you require this can be used in baking. They make excellent banana cakes. Bananas, this way, can be saved for one to two months.

Make rotis and put egg on either side. Then add in shredded meat along with onions, green chilies, chat masala to make Frankie rolls.

Mithai (Sweets):
Sweets such as kaju khatlis, kalakands and barfis which might be around the house in excess, especially after festivals, can be refrigerated and as and when you would require, mashed into a paste. Then, after adding a little amount of milk, it could be served as a haluwa.

From regular chowmein to hakka noodles to pasta – any variety can be combined with kaccha papad to make a delicious appetizer. Create a stuffing of the noodle and place it on the papad, then stick the sides with corn flour paste and deep fry it.

Cut the idli into pieces and deep fry it. This can be eaten with any plain sauce.

Curd which has gone sour can be turned into a dahi curry. Make a mixture of curd and gram flour (for every one cup of curd, use one and a half spoon of gram flour). Heat ghee in a pan, fry some curry leaves, and add in garlic, mustard seeds, and green chilies. Then put in the mixture along with some salt to taste, a pinch of sugar and squeeze in a bit of lime. The dish goes well with plain rice. !