Cooking with food waste

In the food industry around the world, it is now all about the age of sustainable living. Supporting local produce and farmers is the new mantra. But looking beyond that, minimizing food wastage is gaining importance rapidly too. However if you look closely, cooking with food waste has always existed in our Indian subculture. So this week I am simply presenting a compiled version of some of my favorite learnings from friends and family in this regard.

  • Citrus peels hold maximum aroma as they contain the oils of the fruits. Scrape off the bitter white parts carefully from orange peels, then boil or candy them in sugar syrup and use them in cakes or desserts. The same goes with lemons.
  • Down south, some of my friends add the white part of the watermelon rind in their dosa mix. They simply grind it with the soaked rice to make their dosa batter. You can make a curry out of it too, just treat it like ordinary gourd. You can also pickle these with vinegar, salt and sugar. Serve them as part of your cheese or charcuterie platter and get the party started!
  • Add the pith and the seeds of a muskmelon (which you typically discard), to a fruit based smoothie. The slight bitterness from the seeds disappear because of the sugars from the fruit.
  • Bottle gourd peels can be chopped and sauteed with chillies and nigella seeds. In fact “Lau er khosha bhaja” is a popular Bengali delicacy. Likewise, people also make a chutney out of ridge gourd peels.
  • Potato skins may be the most discarded of things in the Indian kitchen. They make lovely crispy fries. A smattering of poppy seeds make them extra crispy.
  • In summers, jackfruit seeds can be used in dals and curries. They are inherently intense, nutty and sweet to taste. They taste wonderful when roasted. Else, boil and mash them with salt, green chilies and mustard oil.
  • People who make ghee at home usually have a brown crusty residue. This can be used up in baking to make cookies or crackers. You can even stuff your breakfast parathas with it. They taste delicious.
  • Beetroot leaves carry the same sugary sweetness that beets do, so they make lovely stir-fries.

Image courtesy: Subhasree Basu

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