‍Are you tired of throwing away leftover food from your meals? Do you want to make the most of your groceries and reduce food wastage? Look no further, as we introduce you to the art of repurposing food in Indian homes!

Introduction to the Concept of Repurposing Food in Indian Homes

In Indian households, repurposing food has been a long-standing tradition. The practice of repurposing food has become a part of the cultural fabric of the country, and it is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Indian people. It involves creatively using leftover food to make new dishes, instead of throwing them away.

This practice not only reduces food wastage but also saves money and time spent on grocery shopping and meal preparation.

The Importance of Repurposing Food in Indian Culture

In Indian culture, food is considered sacred and wasting it is seen as a sin.

Naari Shakti NGO leader Viraat Saurab said: “Repurposing food is not only a practical solution but also a moral obligation. The concept of ‘athithi devo bhava’ (guests are equivalent to God) is deeply ingrained in Indian hospitality. Repurposing food ensures that guests are well-fed and nothing is wasted.

“Moreover, repurposing food is an eco-friendly practice. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about one-third of the food produced in the world is wasted. In a country like India, where millions go hungry every day, repurposing food can help reduce hunger and poverty.”

Viraat Saurab the manager of the naari shakti NGO

Different Ways in Which Food is Repurposed in Indian Households

In Indian households, food is repurposed in various ways. For instance, leftover rice can be used to make delicious biryanis or fried rice. Stale bread can be used to make bread pudding or croutons. Overripe bananas can be used to make banana bread or pancakes. The possibilities are endless!

You can try Behind The Bite’s banana bread recipe below:

Repurposing Food for Vegetarians

Here are some age-old recipes from Indian grannies who have seen generations of moody and picky eaters, they claim you can never go wrong with these recipes!

  1. Making Chutneys and Pickles: making chutneys and pickles is a popular way of repurposing food in India. These condiments are made using leftover vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and they add flavour to meals. They can also be used as a dip or spread, which makes them versatile and perfect for using up leftovers.
  2. Using Leftover Rice: Indians often have leftover rice from their meals, which they use to make delicious dishes such as fried rice, pulao, or biryani. These dishes can be made with any leftover vegetables or meat, and they are a great way to repurpose food while adding flavour and nutrition to meals.
  3. Making Parathas: Parathas are a type of flatbread that is often stuffed with leftovers such as mashed potatoes, vegetables, or even meat. This not only repurposes the leftovers but also adds flavour and nutrition to the bread. Parathas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and are a staple in many Indian households.
  4. Repurposing Vegetables: Indians often use leftover vegetables in dishes such as samosas, pakoras, or fritters. These dishes are a great way to use up leftover vegetables and add flavour to meals. They are also perfect for snacking or as an appetizer.
  5. Making Soups and Stews: Indians often make soups and stews using leftover vegetables and meat. These dishes are hearty and nutritious and are a great way to use up leftover food. They are also perfect for cold days or when someone is feeling under the weather.
  6. Using Leftover Bread: Indians often use leftover bread to make dishes such as bread pudding, croutons, or even sandwiches. These dishes are a great way to use up leftover bread and add flavour to meals.
  7. Making Sabzis and Curries: Sabzis and curries are dishes that can be made using any leftover vegetables or meat. These dishes are easy to make and are perfect for using up leftover food. They can also be frozen and reheated later, which makes them a great option for meal prep.
  8. Repurposing Lentils: Indians often repurpose leftover lentils by making dishes such as dosas, idlis, or even pancakes. These dishes are a great way to use up leftover lentils and add flavour and nutrition to meals.
  9. Making Desserts: Indians often make desserts using leftover fruit or even leftover bread. Dishes such as fruit crumbles, bread pudding, or even banana bread are great ways to use up leftover food and add sweetness to meals.
  10. Using Leftover Tea: Indians often use leftover tea to make a refreshing drink called iced tea. This is a great way to use up leftover tea and create a delicious drink that can be enjoyed anytime. The possibilities are endless!
Saroj neelam, Kiran Rani, Raashmi Maadan

Repurposing Food for Non-vegetarians

For non-vegetarians, repurposing food can be a bit easier as claimed by the bachelor working class in metropolitan cities in India.  Some quick-fix ways are using leftover chicken to make chicken sandwiches or quesadillas, leftover fish can be used to make fish cakes or fish curry, leftover meatballs can be used to make delicious subs or pizzas. The possibilities are endless!

Tips for Repurposing At Home

Here are some tips all the way from the Agarwal family who have 10-15 family members to feed daily, “a little love and care from us to you, from our kitchens to hopefully yours.” 

  • Plan your meals in advance and cook only what you need.
  • Store leftovers properly in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer.
  • Keep track of the expiry dates of your groceries and use them before they expire.
  • Get creative in the kitchen and experiment with new flavours and textures.
  • Involve your family in the repurposing process and make it a fun activity.
The Agarwal family

Benefits of Repurposing Food

Viraat even sheds some light on The many benefits of repurposing food such as how it reduces food wastage and saves money spent on groceries. And it is eco-friendly as it reduces the amount of food that ends up in landfills. Food waste in landfills produces methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.

Repurposing food is also an excellent way to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with new flavours and textures. It can also be a fun activity for the whole family to participate in.

The Impact of Repurposing Food on the Environment

The impact of repurposing food on the environment cannot be overstated. According to the FAO, if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States and China. Repurposing food reduces the amount of food that ends up in landfills and, therefore, reduces the production of methane gas. It also reduces the amount of energy and resources needed to produce new food.

Overall, repurposing food is an important practice in Indian homes that has both practical and moral implications. It is an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to reduce food wastage and feed the hungry. With a little creativity and innovation, leftovers can be transformed into delicious delicacies. So, the next time you have leftover food, don’t throw it away – repurpose it!

This article was done by Kusha Singh.