With limited mobility and streamlined availability of ingredients, let nothing go waste. We all grew up watching our mothers curdle that leftover milk to make cottage cheese or use the browning bananas to bake a loaf of delicious banana bread. It’s time to turn back to those basic ideas of repurposing food for healthy and easy meals. Uchit Vohra, Executive Chef at ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru, shares how a spot of ingenuity takes you a long way with borderline vegetables, optimising their consumption. “The most effective way is pickling to increase shelf life. This comes in handy when you have a spotting cauliflower, wrinkled carrots or a shrivelled aubergine. Fermenting increases their nutrient index, making the content more healthy for the gut owing to its probiotic properties,” he says.
Alternatively, frying and freezing vegetables is an effective way of reusing them later. For potatoes on the withering spree, specifically, just slice and dehydrate in the sun to make potato chips. To make leafy vegetables like coriander and spinach last longer, blanch and make into a paste and freeze. For leaves and herbs, microwave on minimum power to dehydrate, then powder them and use as sprinklers, Vohra suggests.
Bananas are one of the most versatile things to transform. Throw them into cakes if you are a baking whiz or simply toss them into milkshakes and smoothies. You can also blitz it into a mixer with a few other ingredients and freeze before enjoying your homemade ice cream a couple of hours later. “I use overripe bananas to make overnight oats with almond milk, or add flour to make an oats banana pancake for breakfast,” says Chef Sanjana Patel of La Folie.
Similarly, aubergines can be redeemed by making them into a bharta or a baba ganoush spread. Leftover beans can be boiled and frozen to include in your next curry dish, pulav or a Russian salad, says Chef Rohan Dsouza. Border edibles are great to turn into spreads and chutneys. Mushy tomatoes work very well as tomato sambal, according to Dsouza. Optionally, chop the good parts of the over-ripe vegetables and boil them with salt and reduce to a thick slush. Then strain and store as cubes in an ice tray for later.
Tomato Sambal (with dry shrimp) by Chef Rohan DSouza
- Chopped squishy tomatoes: 5-6
- Chopped onions: 2
- Sliced garlic cloves: 3
- Sliced green chillies: 2
- Mustard seeds: 1/4 tbsp
- Oil: 2 tbsp
- Tamarind juice: 1 tbsp
- Brown sugar: 1/4 tbsp
- Dried shrimp (optional): 1/4 cup
- Salt/pepper to taste
- In a pan over medium heat, add oil and temper with mustard seeds till they pop. Add onion and fry till golden brown.
- Add sliced garlic, tomatoes, green chillis, salt and pepper, and sauté for a minute
- Simmer on low heat till the tomatoes cook. Add in tamarind and brown sugar.
- Add dry shrimps, cook for a minute and serve
Banana Oats Crumble by Chef Sanjana Patel
- Oats: 100g
- Brown sugar: 100g
- Flour: 100g
- Butter: 100g
- Ripe bananas: 2-3
- Mixed nuts: 75g
- Make the dough by kneading brown sugar, butter and flour
- Add oats and knead. Keep the dough in the freezer for five minutes.
- Take baking dishes such as ramekins and butter them
- Add the sliced bananas and sprinkle with crumbled cold dough, roughly broken into small pieces. Add nuts and raisins on top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, and till the bananas are soft and caramelised
- Serve with maple syrup or honey