7 leftover recipes

“Food is Precious”, says Ma- Cook with your Leftovers

“Food is precious”, says Ma. How could she be so naïve at her age? Football is much more precious. And so are so many things in my life- friends, pretty lasses next door, cavorting and cajoling, movies, parties, dope, cigarettes, alcohol…………. Spare me! I am only sixteen. And I need not bother about my supplies. After all, what are parents earning for? You may call it a rush of hormones; I call it my birthright.

Fast forward sixteen years. Food is precious- says Ma. Life doesn’t seem utopian anymore, if not outright dystopian. Twelve hours work-days leave not much time for frolic, flattery and entertainment. And I feel frustrated being underpaid, imagined or otherwise. The shady bloodsuckers wait surreptitiously for the slightest opportunity to leech out my blood. I come home irked and exhausted and lash out at my son like a striking cobra. “Do you have any idea how we slave to arrange your food? Bloody, half the population is starving and you are wasting food, you moron!!” Yes, you guessed it right. Life has come a full circle.

So, why don’t we try filling a portion of our stomachs by using our leftovers from our kitchens, save where we can and in the process explore our culinary ingenuities? Here, I will share how I do my own leftover cooking. This may help you with some ideas, but I would like to encourage you to let your imagination go wild by exploiting your own resources and designs. Hence, you will find, I have not mentioned the quantities of the ingredients as none of these calls for standard recipes.

Food is precious- says Ma

Fish croquettes

Food is precious- says Ma- Fish croquettes are a wonderful bar snack that can be prepared with fish trimmings or cooked leftover fish. You can make it either breaded or beer-battered. Both are equally delicious but with different textures. My personal favourite is the breaded version as I like opposing textures in my food. The crispy exterior succumbing to the soft, juicy and steaming interior is pure bliss. Just ensure that you get rid of all the bones from the fish no matter how tiny they are. A piece of that annoying bone pricks like the proverbial thorn in the bush which is an absolute spoiler.


  • Fish trimmings/cooked leftover fish
  • Boiled potato (jackets removed)
  • Eggs
  • Minced onion
  • Minced ginger
  • Minced garlic
  • Red chilli powder/cayenne pepper
  • Lime juice/malt vinegar
  • White pepper powder
  • Chopped fresh basil (you can replace it with fresh coriander leaves)
  • Salt
  • Seasoned flour (with salt and white pepper powder)                    
  • Breadcrumb (coarse)
  • Refined oil (for deep frying)


  1. Shallow fry the fish trimmings in oil. Let it cool and mash it into a paste. If you are using cooked leftover fish, there is no need to fry further. Just mash it nicely into a paste and ensure that there is not a hint of bone in the paste.
  2. Separate the egg yolks from the whites and keep them in two separate bowls.
  3. Together with fish paste, mix and mash egg yolks and all other ingredients except the last three items. Rest this mixture in a fridge for about an hour.
  4. Pour a little bit of oil on a skillet, heat it and cook the paste without browning for a few minutes. This process will get rid of the excess moisture.
  5. Cool the paste and shape it into cylindrical batons of approximately 3” length and 3/4th” diameter.
  6. Coat the batons evenly with seasoned flour. Now, roll the croquettes in beaten egg whites and then coat with breadcrumbs evenly on all sides.
  7. Heat oil to smoking point. Reduce to medium heat and deep fry the croquettes into a nice golden-brown colour.
  8. Serve immediately with onion rings and mint chutney.
Food is precious- says Ma

Curried Scrambled Egg

Food is precious- says Ma. Do not throw away that gravy of mutton or chicken curry which nestles at the bottom of the bowl after you consume the meat. I often prepare this version of scrambled egg with one or two days old leftover gravy from mutton/chicken curry. It is an excellent no-fuss comfort food which I find much more flavourful and robust than either the traditional Scrambled Egg or the Parsi Akuri.


  • Leftover gravy
  • Beaten eggs
  • Chopped onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped green chillies
  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • Refined oil/butter
  • Seasoning


  1. Heat oil/butter. Sauté onions till they are translucent.
  2. Add garlic and fry till the raw smell goes away.
  3. Add tomatoes and green chillies and cook for a few minutes.
  4. When oil starts leaving the masala, blend in the leftover gravy and bring it to boil. Reduce it to your liking. Lightly pour in the beaten eggs.
  5. Reduce heat and stir vigorously. The eggs will start to coagulate and thicken the gravy. Cook until it develops into a smooth creamy consistency.
  6. Season with salt and add coriander leaves.
  7. Remove from heat and serve hot with roti/paratha or pao.
Food is precious- says Ma

Eggy-Cheesy Envelopes

Food is precious- says Ma. This is a gem of an item- easy with bare minimum ingredients, a mouthful of umami and a mouthfeel of texture. My wife can’t keep up with the sheer pace with which I devour them. Two of the most versatile ingredients do the trick. Eggs and cheese. And trust me, you can never go wrong with this recipe.


  • Paratha dough
  • Leftover cooked mutton keema
  • Lightly beaten eggs
  • Blue cheese (or any other cheese with high umami content)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Refined oil (for deep frying)


  1. Roll the paratha dough in a circular shape of approximately 6” in diameter. Smear the top face of the paratha with 2 teaspoons of beaten eggs leaving about 1 cm free from the edge of the circumference.
  2. Scoop out 2 teaspoons of mutton keema and place it at the centre and slightly flatten it with the back of a spoon.
  3. Crumble Blue cheese with your fingers spreading it evenly on the paratha. Please note that Blue cheese has a very sharp taste and is very salty. Too much of it may be too hard on your senses. If you are new to Blue cheese, use any other like Parmesan or Gouda or even simple processed cheese with high umami. Sprinkle ground black pepper on top.
  4. Bring the opposite edges of the circle at the centre, seal and fold like an envelope, such that the keema stays inside the envelope. Don’t bother if the eggs ooze out. It is meant to be that way.
  5. Heat oil to smoking point. Reduce heat to medium and deep fry the envelopes into tempting golden colour.
  6. Take the envelopes out with a perforated ladle and place them on tissues to soak excess oil. The outer layer should be crunchy.
  7. Serve hot with tomato ketchup or chilli sauce.

I personally prefer my envelopes a bit under-fried, since I like my eggs runny inside. As I bite, the creamy melted cheese and the runny eggs burst out in an explosion of texture and flavour.

Food is precious- says Ma

Pulled Chicken Tikka Sandwich

Food is precious- says Ma. After devouring your chicken tikkas or tandoori chicken which you got delivered by your local eatery, you find a few more left. What to do with these? Reheating in the micro and consuming the next day is not the best option. Why not assemble a great sandwich? Given the choice, I would opt for this improvised chicken sandwich any day, over any of those made with roasted chicken. The charcoal flavoured tikkas give an entirely new dimension to the sandwich with the contrasting flavour of mayonnaise and the zing of raw onions.


  • Leftover chicken tikka
  • Fresh ciabatta/sandwich bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Roughly chopped onions
  • Chopped parsley (you can replace it with coriander leaves)
  • Chopped green chillies
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper (freshly ground)
  • Salt


  1. Take out the tikkas from the fridge and bring them to room temperature. Pull out shreds and strips of the meat with your hands.
  2. In a glass bowl lightly blend in the pulled chicken with all other ingredients except the bread.
  3. Spread small portions of this mix evenly on slices of ciabatta or sandwich bread. Cover each slice with another slice.
  4. Wrap each sandwich with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.
  5. Take out the sandwiches from the fridge and you are good to go. Accompany with potato wafers for that extra texture.

If you prefer a warm sandwich, do not refrigerate after assembling. Just lightly grill both sides on the grill and have it warm accompanied with French fries.

Food is precious- says Ma


Food is precious- says Ma– Frittata is an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette or a crustless quiche. Whereas omelette is fast-cooked, a frittata is slow-cooked and finished in an oven. You can make seemingly endless varieties of frittata both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. And what better way to use your not-so-fresh vegetables, greens and meats! Frittata is a meal in itself, rich, aromatic, flavourful and filling. You can have it as a snack as well as a wholesome dinner item. The best part is, it is one the simplest recipes producing a great product. Here, I am sharing a very basic recipe, but feel free to fancy your own ideas. Two of the ingredients are must though- eggs and cream. The ratio of the ingredients which works best for me is- for every six eggs, I use 1/4th cup (200 ml capacity) heavy cream, 3/4th cup cheddar or processed cheese and 2 cups of vegetables and/or meat.


  • Eggs
  • Diced Bacon/lardons (optional)
  • Leftover vegetables
    • Potatoes (thinly sliced)
    • Spinach (blanched and chopped)
    • Red and yellow bell peppers (diced)
    • Button mushroom (thick sliced)
  • Minced garlic
  • Cheddar/processed cheese (shredded)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 200⁰C (392⁰F) and keep ready.
  2. Whisk eggs and cream together with a little bit of salt and keep aside.
  3. Heat an oven-safe skillet to medium-hot and fry bacon dices till they are crispy. Remove the fried bacon with a slotted spoon leaving bacon fat on the skillet.
  4. Next, sauté the potatoes in the bacon fat until tender and lightly browned.
  5. Add garlic and fry till the raw smell evaporates and then pile in the spinach and cook for about a minute.
  6. Add mushrooms, bell peppers and fresh basil and cook for another minute.
  7. Add fried bacon to the pan and distribute evenly. Sprinkle cheese on top and just allow it to start melting.
  8. Now pour the egg mixture on top. Tilt the pan to cover the vegetables evenly on all sides and cook till the eggs at the edges begin to set.
  9. Put the pan with eggs and all inside the preheated oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes.
  10. Check whether it is cooked properly by inserting a small knife in the centre of the frittata. If the knife comes out with raw eggs sticking to the blade, then bake it for a few minutes more.
  11. Take out the pan from the oven and cool it for 5 minutes.
  12. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve with toast.
Food is precious- says Ma

Cheesy Mutton/Lamb Wraps

Food is precious- says Ma. The famous Kathi Rolls of Kolkata has become quite a rage in India as well as with the Indian diaspora. Various abominable imitations are passed on as Kolkata Kathi Rolls (which I look down upon with utter contempt) all over the world, but nothing can beat the original ones dished out on the streets of Kolkata. So, out of respect for those wizards of Kolkata, I prefer to address this improvisation of mine as Wraps rather than Kathi Rolls. Although vastly different from Kathi Rolls, this recipe quite serves the purpose of being a delightful alternative. I always use a few days old cooked mutton or lamb chunks for the filling.


  • Pulled shreds of mutton or lamb
  • All-purpose flour
  • Vanaspati (hydrogenated vegetable fat)
  • Refined oil
  • Salt
  • Beaten eggs
  • Water
  • Onion rings
  • Chopped green chillies
  • Lemon juice
  • Gouda cheese


The first step towards preparing this wrap is to make a super-flaky thin paratha. Refer to the video.

  1. Make a stiff dough with flour, refined oil beaten eggs and salt.
  2. Knead the dough very well for at least 2-3 minutes. Cover it with a moist muslin cloth and rest it at room temperature for one hour.
  3. While the dough is being rested, cream the vegetable fat by applying pressure on the fat with the palm of your hand and moving your hand in circular motions. After creaming, the fat should become soft, light and fluffy.
  4. Now make balls out of the dough. With a rolling pin, roll a ball thinly into a circular shape.
  5. Apply creamed fat evenly on the rolled dough with a spatula. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on the top.
  6. From the central point of the rolled dough run a sharp knife to the edge of the circle which will form a straight gash from the centre to the edge. The length of the gash will be the radius of the circle.
  7. Now, by applying light pressure with one finger on the central point, roll firmly along the line of the radius with your thumb and index finger of the other hand. This will form a cone.
  8. Place the cone on a flat clean surface with the vertex facing downwards and press the top down with your palm. This will take the shape of a partially flattened sphere.
  9. Repeat the process with the other balls. Cover them with a moist muslin cloth and keep them inside the fridge for 30-40 minutes.
  10. Take out the flattened balls from the fridge and roll each one into a circular shape like a paratha.
  11. Heat oil on a griddle and shallow fry each into nice crispy and flaky parathas with small golden blisters.
  12. Arrange the parathas on a flat surface and line them along the diameter with the filling of pulled mutton, onion rings, chopped green chillies, lemon juice and cheese.
  13. Roll the parathas lightly with your hands into cylinders and close both ends by tucking in and folding the top and bottom of the parathas.
  14. Your wrap is ready. Serve hot.
Food is precious- says Ma

Shahi Tukda

Food is precious- says Ma. This rich milk-based dessert of the nawabs is a mouthwatering item that can easily be made with bread slices past their prime. Another variation of the same is Double ka Meetha. Shahi Tukda is popular in the northern parts of India, whereas Double ka Meetha is its close cousin favoured mostly in the southern city of Hyderabad in India. It is a warm dessert and should be consumed fresh after preparation to savour the mouthfeel. If not, the bread slices will lose their crispy texture and will become soggy which is not at all desirable.


  • Bread slices (one day post “best before” date)
  • Full cream milk
  • Green cardamom
  • White sugar
  • Saffron
  • Khoya (dehydrated evaporated milk)
  • Toasted slivered almonds
  • Chopped pistachio
  • Refined oil (for deep frying)


  1. In a mortar and pestle, grind a few strands of saffron with a little bit of sugar and keep it ready (grinding saffron this way will produce a richer colour and enhanced flavour).
  2. Add green cardamom pods to milk and bring it to a full boil in a thick-bottomed vessel stirring frequently. Reduce heat and let it boil slowly till it thickens to half its original volume. Keep stirring occasionally.
  3. Add sugar to the simmering milk and dissolve properly. Please note, as you add sugar, the milk becomes a bit dilute. So, reduce it again to half its original volume.
  4. Sprinkle ground saffron and mix thoroughly. The reduced milk will develop a beautiful yellow colour. This is the Rabdi. Remove from heat and let it cool from piping hot to warm.
  5. While the rabdi gets cooled, cut the bread slices in triangles after removing their crusts.
  6. Heat oil to the smoking point and then reduce heat to low. Deep fry the bread slices to a golden colour. Please be careful while frying, since bread tends to brown very quickly.
  7. Arrange the crispy-fried slices on a flat tray and pour the rabdi over it, covering the bread slices evenly.
  8. Grate khoya on top and garnish with slivered almonds and chopped pistachio.
  9. Serve warm immediately.

Now, run up to your refrigerator and check out what you had been storing the last few days but did not have any clue what to do with those. It is a world of ‘Maya’ we live in. And I can empathise with your dilemma of to throw away or not to throw away. Hence, I wrote about leftover cooking. If you are lucky, you might be surprised to see your children hogging stuff that they didn’t use to touch with a ten-foot pole.

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