Cows, dogs and magic wands: Creative solutions for leftovers

Fact: I hate leftovers.
Fact: I hate throwing away leftovers.
Fact: I hate creative complicated recipes about what to do with leftovers.

Now that I have that out of the way let me get on with my story.

At 5 o’clock one evening, I opened the fridge for some milk for my shaam ki chai and I spotted a bowl of leftover chhole. That bowl had been sitting in the fridge since last night’s dinner.

I’ve said this earlier and I’ll say it again, leftovers are a pain. The trouble is, either everyone wants them (depending on whether it is higher or lower in preference compared to the current menu), which is a sure shot recipe for strife. Or nobody wants them, which means they will remain leftover forever.

Also, they totally upset the current meal calculation.
Fact: Leftovers breed leftovers.

That’s how the day-old chhole came to be sitting in the fridge.

A little annoyed by their presence, I wondered what I should do with them.

Maybe I should adopt a cow.

I’d once thought of getting a dog to solve this problem of leftovers, but dogs these days eat their Kibble or Pedigree or whatever. They’d probably turn up their flat-little snooty noses at day-old chhole.

Hence, cow.

I could feed her the leftovers and be done with. That’s what generations before us did. My father still goes out for his morning walk with last night’s chapatis for stray cows.

Cows are accommodating. They eat everything. Once, one of them even ate up my sister’s chemistry journal. Truly.

So my cow would sit peacefully in the balcony and chew up whatever was served.

However, there’s a catch. I do not see her lumbering all the way up to my third-floor house in a high-rise building. Also, I’m not sure a bunch of gau-rakshaks wouldn’t descend on my home, it being election season and all (pardon the double negative, the chhole situation is interfering with my grammar).

Back to the problem at hand, I glance at the chhole. How easy it would be to simply dump them in the bin. But my hands refuse to obey me. And it’s all my parents’ fault. All those years of conditioning!

If I’d spill a little bit of salt my mother would say, ‘You’ll be made to pick that up with your eyelashes one day’. I am not quite sure which day or where or by whom I would be made to do that. Perhaps, it would happen after I died and went to heaven (assuming I would go to heaven). Except, that would negate the whole purpose of heaven. I mean, it wouldn’t be much of a heaven if they made people collect spilt salt with their eyelashes.

Or it could happen in my next life. Unless, I turned up as a fish. That would be a curveball. Mum’s theory really has major holes.

In any case, I had no wish to pick up chhole with my rather meagre eyelashes in any of my future lives.

So then I considered just eating them up – sitting at the table and getting rid of them. It’s not like I’ve never done it. That’s one reason the weighing scale always tips the wrong way.

I upraise the bowl: Nope. Not possible! There’s just too much of it.

Finally, with annoyance bubbling up, I get to mashing the darned chickpeas. I make a pretty good job of it, pouring out all my frustration. No cows or dogs were coming to my rescue – it was just them and me.

I crumble in a few slices of bread then chop in some onions, green chillies and coriander. As I knead the final dough I find myself calming down.

I roll out round balls on the palms of my hands and put them onto a hot girdle. I flatten them with my spatula and turn them around slowly in the sizzling oil. Within minutes they are crackling away, brown and crisp.

I wave the spatula like a wand and get a fairy godmother vibe. Didn’t I just transform those leftover chhole into scrumptious cutlets?

The facts (refer top) don’t change, though. It’s only occasionally that I choose to wave my wand. So my problem remains unsolved.

Meanwhile tell me, have you had a similar fairy godmother moment? If there’s a recipe involved, share it pretty please. Also, have you ever thought of adopting a cow (or dog) or is it just me?

7 Replies to “Cows, dogs and magic wands: Creative solutions for leftovers”

  1. Oh I forgot to mention your cutlets. They look super delicious. I will try making them with the chole, leftover or not.

  2. I can attest leftovers is a serious problem. It pains me too to throw them away in the bin. More often than not, I have been the one who has eaten up the leftover because no one else would want them in the next meal and have upset my controlled diet that I try to follow on most days of the month. I am tryinging to engineer the exact proportions of making chole/rajma/black chana, the cooked version of which do not fall short in quantity. 3 chamchas of raw chole, rajma etc leads to 1 bowl of left over and 2 and a half chamchas leads to the husband gloating that khaana Kam pad gaya who always turns up last at the lunch table to eat whatever we have left over for him. My struggle is to arrive at 2 and three fourths chamchas of measurement.
    To answer your pertinent question – I haven’t thought of adopting a cow or a dog to eat the leftovers. Although I can recall how having a pet dog in my childhood was beneficial. Whenever we, the kids, were given the responsibility of boiling the precious milk and the milk spilled out of the vessel making true the saying – ‘ doodh ki nadiyan behti thi,’ we would install our dog just 2 steps away from the drain assigning him the duty of mopping up the milk stream not allowing even a single drop to go down the drain. What can i say about our dog. He was an exceptional team member who took his assignment seriously

    1. So that’s another good reason for adopting a dog. Of late everyone seems to be encouraging us to get a pet, but I have huge reservations – that’s a whole other post. Meanwhile, hope you did try out the cutlets and that they turned out well.

  3. Hahaha picking salt with eyelashes… now that would be something I am the only one at home at eats leftovers… no wonder losing weight is a struggle because I can’t throw them as well. But I have to make them disappear (either i tummy or bin) before my husband sees it, coz even though he won’t eat the leftover he will raise hue and cry over why there are leftovers. Home management is not for the faint hearted. Those tikkis look so delicious. Btw, did you get to make your chai or not?
    Rajlakshmi recently put up this amazing post…Sunset in Sydney | Australia | Travel PhotographyMy Profile

    1. I did make the chai – can’t do without the evening cup.
      Most of us seem to have the same issue – not being able to follow a diet because of leftovers. Having watched my mom and mom-in-law I can say with some authority that even the best home-managers cannot avoid leftovers. Perhaps the men should have a go at it and see if they fare any better.

  4. Tulika, I too hate complicated recipes of what to do with leftovers and I too hate leftovers. But more often than not, I am the one finishing those leftovers to save me the time and the energy to cook for myself if hubby isn’t home for dinner or lunch the next day.
    You know, when my MIL was around, she would suggest we ‘celebrate’ “shila saptami” to finish all the leftovers in the fridge. Shila, means stale, in Marathi. And I often have such saptamis, usually on Mondays when the food from Sundays gets left over.
    The one simple recipe for leftover rice that I like to cook is the “phodni cha bhaat”, where I add the leftover rice to the tadka, which consists of lots of onion, garlic and green chillies. It tastes so good and makes for a good breakfast item. Try it, if you like.
    I try my best not to throw away leftover food because as a kid I was often lectured by my father how blessed and privileged we were for having homecooked food and how we were not to waste even a morsel lest we get punished for doing so. I never gave it a thought as to who exactly would punish us if did waste the food, probably because of the generation we belonged to. 😛
    Shilpa Gupte recently put up this amazing post…Confessions of a (struggling) artist.My Profile

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