What to do with leftover food?

Leftover food can be turned into yummy kababs, paranthas, samosas and more. The tips provided here will show you cooking is not rocket science. You just need to be a little innovative to create new dishes from cooked food.

When I was growing up wasting food was considered a sin. We had to finish what was on our plate, or else take only what we could eat. That being said there was always extra food on the table; for an unexpected guest. My mom always set two extra places on the table; at every meal, each time. Never really asked her why she did that; and it was something that I thought to be normal. Actually, those days' relatives and friends dropped by without prior information, and when they did they could join us at our meal without mom having to scurry to the kitchen to arrange more crockery/cutlery.

On days when there were no guests the extra food was stashed away in the fridge after the house help had eaten and was turned into a new dish for the next meal. Here I share some of those yummy dishes that mom prepared out of leftover food.

What to do with extra cooked dal?

If you have leftover dal (pulses and lentils) from one meal you don't have to eat it in the same form again. You can make delicious paranthas or kebabs with it? So, here's my recipe for nutritious dal paranthas. You can use massor dal, channa dal, mixed dal and moong dal.

Ingredients needed for dal parantha:

  • Leftover dal

  • 1 bunch chopped (spinach) palak/chopped methi (fenugreek)

  • Few sprigs green coriander finely chopped

  • 2 finely chopped green chillies

  • Ajwain (carom seeds) ½ tsp

  • 1/4 tsp zeera (cumin) powder

  • Salt to taste

  • Red chilli powder to taste

  • Coriander powder ½ tsp

  • Garam masala ¼ tsp

  • Whole wheat/multi grain atta

  • 2 tbsp channa atta (use (gram flour) besan if channa atta is not available

  • 1 tbsp ghee

  • Oil/ghee for frying

Learn how to prepare dal parantha

Mix well the wheat/multi grain atta with channa atta. To this add all the ingredients mentioned above, except the oil/ghee for frying. Add a little water if need be and knead into a firm dough.
Cover the dough and let it stand for 10-15 mins. Give it another punch and you're ready to roll out paranthas.
Fry the paranthas nice and crisp and serve with any of the following –
  • Green chutney

  • Raita (you can make palak or lauki (bottle gourd) or potato raita

  • Makhan (butter)

Here is how to make kebab with leftover dal

To make kebabs you will need the following ingredients –
  • Left over dal, cooked till all the water had evaporated

  • 1 medium carrot grated

  • 1 medium radish grated

  • Boiled and mashed peas (optional)

  • Few sprigs green coriander finely chopped

  • 2-3 Green chillies chopped fine

  • Ginger juliennes

  • Juice of ½ lime

  • Salt to taste

  • coriander powder ½ tsp

  • Chaat masala ¼ tsp

  • Black pepper powder ¼ tsp

  • Mix of sesame seeds and oats (optional, you can use both or one of them or neither)

  • Oil for frying

How to make kebab with leftover dal

Heat the dal and dry out all the water, the dal should be a mass. Cool the dal and add all the ingredients mentioned above except the oil for frying and sesame oats, to it. Mix well and taste to check the seasoning.

Shape into cutlets/kebabs and roll into sesame and oats mix and shallow fry in oil until brown on either side.

Serve with green chutney or ketchup.

Can I make a new dish with leftover chicken curry pieces?

I always feel that chicken tastes best when it is left to stand in the gravy for one day. But, if you don't want to eat the same curry again you can turn it into new dishes.

Make Frankie/kathi roll with left over chicken

To make chicken Frankie you will need the following ingredients –
  • Maida kneaded into a soft dough

  • Well beaten egg to which a pinch of salt and pepper has been added

  • Left over chicken with thick gravy (make sure to remove bones

  • Chaat masala

  • Oil for frying

  • Vinegar to which green chillies have been added

  • Finely chopped capsicum

  • Grated carrot

  • Thinly sliced onion rings

Easy way to prepare chicken Frankie at home

Roll out the maida dough into thin circular chapattis and cook both sides over a low flame.

To assemble the Frankie pour some egg on one side of the chapatti and cook till done. You need to cook both sides of the chapatti using little oil.

Once the egg is cooked pour some chicken gravy along with boneless chicken in the middle of the chapatti. Sprinkle some vinegar/chilli mix and spread out grated carrot and chopped capsicum on top. Roll into a Frankie and wrap a napkin round it.

Chicken sandwiches like the ones sold in cafes and cinema theatres

I hate paying 150 bucks for a sandwich that I know can be put together in much less. If you have cooked chicken at home you too can prepare chicken sandwiches at home. You will need the following –
  • Sandwich bread or any kind that you prefer

  • Table butter

  • Leftover chicken – deboned and shredded (it can be curry, tandoori, tikka, anything)

  • Finely chopped green capsicum

  • Finely chopped tomato (remove the pulp)

  • 1 finely chopped green chilli

  • Coriander leaves finely chopped

  • ½ tsp white pepper (optional)

  • ¾ tsp mixed herbs (optional)

  • Mayonnaise ½ cup

  • How to make chicken sandwiches at home

    • Mix all the ingredients mentioned above

    • Slice off the corners on the bread so the sandwiches have a professional look

    • Spread butter on a bread slice and spread some chicken mix on top

    • Cover with another buttered bread slice

    • Cut sandwich into two triangles and serve

    Here are some useful tips for making the perfect chicken sandwich

    Whenever you make sandwiches remember to spread butter or margarine on the bread, before adding a filling. The butter prevents the bread from soaking in the moisture from the filling and becoming soggy. You can avoid the butter if you are planning to consume the sandwich immediately. Lettuce leaves can also be placed on the bread before the filling is added.

    You can also add chilli flakes, lemon flavoured herbs or flavoured mayonnaise to the chicken mix. Another lovely flavour is mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together. I prefer the hot and chilli sauce and mayonnaise combination. You can add cheese spread instead of mayonnaise or add a little of both. Experiment with flavours until you get one that you like best.

    What can I do with the leftover vegetables from last night's party

    Party food is always yum, and it is such a pity to see it wasted. I have devised some alternative dishes using leftover vegetarian food, so my family doesn't think they are eating the same thing every day.

    Got leftover dry/semi-dry vegetables, what can I do with them

    Cooked carrots, potatoes, peas, mushrooms, beans, cauliflower etc can be used as a stuffing for parantha and samosa or can be turned into cutlets. You can use any combination of veggies. Stuffed vegetable paranthas are easy to make. Simply mash the veggies with a fork, add chopped green chillies, coriander leaves and onion to the mashed veggies and make paranthas.
    Yummy paranthas from leftover vegetables

    How to make samosa with leftover veggies

    Make sure the veggies are dry, we don't want any gravy. You can either reduce the gravy or remove the veggies from the gravy.

    You will also need the following ingredients to make the veg samosas at home –
    • Maida

    • Salt

    • Oil

    • Ajwain

    • Green chillies

    • Green coriander

    • Dry roasted and coarsely pounded whole coriander

    • Chironji (charoli) (optional)

    • Melon seeds

    • Chopped cashew nuts

    • Raisins

    Method for making samosa with leftover vegetables

    • Make a firm dough using maida, a little oil, ajwain and water

    • Add the balance ingredients to the veggies

    • Roll small sized chapatti using the dough

    • Cut into half and shape into a cone around your fingers. Stick the edges with water and keep the mouth open for stuffing

    • Carefully spoon veg mix into the cone and close the mouth using water

    • Make more samosas using the same method

    • Heat oil in a deep pan and gently drop in the samosas

    • Fry until brown all over

    • Serve with tomato sauce, (tamarind) imli chutney or green chutney

    Cooking I have learnt is not rocket science. Cooking allows you to experiment and create new dishes. You just need to get the right balance of ingredients and voila, you'll soon have people licking their plates clean.

    These are just a few choices that I have provided for you to create new dishes with leftover food. Just leave a message if you want something else and I'll willing share the recipe with you.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana

Related Articles

Importance of food sanitation while eating in houses

In this resource, I am explaining about the importance of food sanitation in various institutions such as restaurants, coffee shops etc. The main points are the minimum requirements of cleanliness and sanitation in eating houses, important points regarding personal hygiene of food handlers, problem in food sanitation are due to food handling etc.

Diets to keep you cool in summer

The intolerability of the summer season is increasing tremendously and we almost seem helpless to counter its ill effects. Do not bother much as intaking an abundant amount of some specific foods can prove helpful. Here is a brief look.

Cooking and kitchen tips for better health

Generally, we focus a lot only on the food we eat in order to maintain good health. But, it is important to focus even on the techniques that are used in the kitchen to prepare the food. Some minor adjustments here and there in our routine cooking techniques can go a long way in making us lead a very healthy life. I have tried to discuss a few tips in this article.

Information On Vegetarian Foods, Non-Vegetarian Foods And Mediterranean Sea Foods

In this article, Information is given on vegetarian foods and their health benefits. It also includes information on Non-vegetarian foods. It states the effects of food on the health of an individual. This article tells you about Mediterranean Sea-food. It tells how Mediterranean sea-foods are extracted and prepared. It mentions about the nutritional value of the foods. It describes the value and importance of Mediterranean sea-foods. It tells us which food isto be preferred and why it should be preferred.

What to do before, during and after the cyclone?

Tropical cyclones cause extensive damage in almost every year in the coastal areas of the world. In this article, the author discusses how to remain safe during the cyclone. Read the article to know various 'dos' before, during and after the cyclone.

More articles: What to do Food


Author: Venkiteswaran06 May 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

This article deals with a very common problem faced by housewives at home. However perfectly measured and prepared,it is a usual occurrence that at the end of the day some foods become excess and some are left over after every one has taken. In macro level or in micro level, wastage of food is not welcome. As the article author says it is a 'sin' to waste food.

So the best way is to re-use the left over foods. But some of them may not be as tasty as it was fresh. Hence there needs some 'reformation' for them. The author gives a few useful methods to reuse some common foods so left over.
Let me add one more here.

The most common breakfast and anytime snack in Southern states of India is the Idli. It is also common that children may not like it everyday. However being easy to cook and serve and as it can go with any side dish apart from chutney, Idli is an everyday item in most homes.

The housewives are adept at managing and making more tasty items from the left over Idli.

The first is to make Idli Upma. For Idli Upma, the left over Idli is shred into very small pieces. A few small onions(shallots)and green chilies are chopped to fine pieces. Oil is taken in a kadai, and mustard and black gram split(udid dal) is added. Under controlled flame (in sim level) when the mustard splits, curry leaves are added. The chopped onion and chilly are added and a little salt is sprinkled for taste. Then the shredded Idli is added and all mixed well by stirring for a couple of minutes till the Idli pieces are warm for consumption.

A further modified version of vegetable Idli can be made in similar way by adding chopped tomatoes, cabbage, carrots etc. along with the onions.

Let us not waste food. As in others let us re-use by proper method or making a new recipe with it.

Author: Juana06 May 2016 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

Thank you Venkiteswaran, your valuable input is appreciated. You have given readers something new to try in their kitchens. A little bit of innovation and time can make a fresh meal out of left overs. Sometimes changing the consistency of the dish and seasoning it with a few spices (like zeera, ajwain etc,), chopped green chillies and ‘hara dhaniya' can change its taste and appearance.

Cooked vegetables can be added to rice to make a pulao. Served with raita, it can be yum. Certain cooked veggies like potatoes, peas, cauliflower, beans, carrots and spinach etc make a nice Indianized pasta dish.

If I have left over veggies (like the type mentioned above) I use them for breakfast. The first step is to dry out the fluid in the dish. I then spread it in an enamel coated frying pan, and pour well beaten and seasoned (salt & pepper) eggs over it. Top it with grated cheese, cover and let it cook on slow fire for 3-5 mins, or until the eggs are done. Sprinkle freshly chopped ‘hara dhaniya' and it's ready to dig into.

There is so much one can do. All it needs is a little bit of imagination and the will to create something.

Author: Umesh28 Jan 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 1

Using left over food for making mouth watering recipes is definitely a commendable thing as everything is so costly that throwing left over food is no doubt a serious sin. Now a days left over food from three star hotels is given to orphanages and other shelter homes. We must utilize each and every grain of a food item.

The writer has given a very exhaustive list of recipes from left over food. I congratulate her for such a nice piece of writing.

  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name: