Aug 24, 2015
For a person fond of cooking, if there is one thing worse than badly-cooked food, it is food going bad. And I am not talking about that 40% of food produced that perish due to bad weather conditions or improper transport and handling, before it hits the market.
Rather, it’s about the food we buy but trash without consuming or the food that we cook but are unable to utilise for some reason. The ‘sales’ tempts us to buy and stock more than we can consume. The food packets dumped in our pantry or refrigerators almost always get noticed by our busy eyes only after they have crossed their expiry dates. In India (at least in our community), we generally do not follow the concept of freezing ingredients, dough, curries etc and hence the excess food has to be consumed on the same day, preferably in a new avatar. And like other communities, Sindhis too have their favourite ways to cook with leftover food and avoid wastage.
To begin with, dal, a staple dish on our menu, is mostly had for dinner and any leftover dal is used to make nutritious chilla for breakfast. Just boil the leftover dal (that was stored in refrigerator) till dense, add some flour (besan or atta), pinch of salt, if needed, and spread on a hot griddle. Drizzle some oil/ghee from sides and cook on low flame till crisp and brown. It tastes so good with mint coriander chutney or even with ketchup.
Our signature dish, Sindhi Saibhaji, a mishmash of greens, vegetables and lentils is again mixed with besan and small flat tikkis are made and shallow fried. Leftover plain, steamed rice is tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. This kind of fried rice is known as Aur pya chaanwaran (Aur = mustard, chaanwaran = rice) and goes well with yoghurt, smooth gourd subzi or even with our favourite Sindhi papad and pickle.
A bread (or pao) that no longer looks fresh, is quickly used to make Seyal bread (or pao), the leftover sugar syrup (after gobbling gulab jamuns) is used to make Mithi Dhabhal, a variation of shahi tukda. That extra mutton curry gets a new life as Mutton biryani, leftover papad is/are crushed and used to make stuffed parathas in a jiffy. Dry subzis like methi patata (methi aloo) or guar patata (cluster beans and potatoes) are sandwiched between sliced breads and toasted on griddle till crisp.
And in my honest opinion, the best of the lot is seyal maani or seyal phulka. One meal stale, whole wheat flour rotis are torn into bite sized pieces and cooked in sonta or the Sindhi-style sao masalo (green spiced up mixture); ginger, garlic, green chilies coarsely pounded along with fresh coriander leaves. This green mixture serves as a base sauce for seyal pao as well as used as stuffing to make stuffed apple gourds, bitter melons, capsicum etc. We love this seyal maani so much that we purposely make some extra rotis for dinner, so that we can have our favourite breakfast in the morning. 🙂
Recipe for Seyal Maani (serves 2)
Preparation time: 5 min
Cooking time: 15 min
2 chopped green chilies (adjust quantity as per taste)
5 cloves garlic
1″ ginger (optional)
1 cup coriander leaves
2 small tomatoes, grated
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Leftover rotis 4 (at least one meal stale)
1.5 cups or more water
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1. Tear off the rotis into bite-size pieces.
2. Using a mortar pestle, (hamam dasta) pound the coriander leaves, chopped chillies, ginger (if using) and peeled garlic cloves till a coarse mixture is formed.
3. In a kadhai or frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil, add curry leaves and mustard seeds and let the seeds splutter.
4. Quickly add the pounded green mixture and stir well. Cook it for 2 minutes. Add grated tomatoes, salt, turmeric and coriander powder. Fry on high heat for couple of minutes. Reduce the flame and cook till the rawness of mixture is gone.
5. Add about a cup and a half or more of water. As soon as the mixture starts bubbling, add pieces of rotis to the boiling mixture.
6. Let it cook on medium to low flame, till all the water is dried up. Garnish with some more coriander leaves.
Alka Keswani is a microbiology graduate, a hands-on mom and food blogger. Besides contributing articles to various magazines and newspapers, she has also co-authored a food section in ‘We The Sindhis’ book. Her blog Sindhi Rasoi won the Best Regional Food blog in 2013 and Best Vegetarian food blog in 2014 at the Food Bloggers Association of India awards. She also manages another blog called Recipeonclick for non-Sindhi recipes.
Follow Alka on Twitter @Sindhirasoi