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From waste to taste

Published Jan 31, 2016, 12:23 am IST
Updated Jan 31, 2016, 12:23 am IST
The concept of sustainable menu involves making interesting dishes out of what we discard.
Cauliflower stalk soup, coriander chilli pesto (Photos: Arunchandra bose)
 Cauliflower stalk soup, coriander chilli pesto (Photos: Arunchandra bose)

Sustainability is a concept that we hear about a lot in modern times. It stems from a sense of responsibility towards fellow beings, future generations and also to nature. Sustainability in cooking and in menu planning is thus becoming increasingly relevant.

Sustainability in food preparation is achieved through various practices like avoiding meat of endangered species, giving preference to local and seasonal ingredients over items which go through longer food miles and reducing the wastage in food preparation and wise menu planning to mention only a few.


One of the ways to contribute to sustainability, especially in commercial kitchens, is by the complete use of an ingredient and by using it in many different dishes. For example, watermelon skins normally wasted can be used to make pickles and is a good substitute for vegetables.

Also when we buy whole chicken, its skin can be rendered down to make fat, which can be used for cooking while the liver can be used to create salads. This ensures variety in dishes and also each food item is put to its optimum use based on its unique characteristics.

It all boils down to the innovativeness of the chef and stuff normally thrown away can be put to use by creating interesting recipes.

The author is Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza, Kochi

Cauliflower stalk soup, coriander chilli pesto

Cauliflower stalk    200 gm
Onion sliced    1
Garlic        4 cloves
Bay leaf        1
Celery stalk    1
Oil        3 tbsp
Cream        3 tbsp
Milk        50 ml
Water as required
Powdered black pepper
Peel the cauliflower stalk and slice them.
Heat oil in a pan, add the sliced onion, crushed garlic, bay leaf and chopped celery sauté until vegetables are soft.
Now add the cauliflower stalks, milk, sufficient water, salt and pepper and cook.
When the cauliflower stalks are cooked, blend the soup and finish with cream.
Coriander chilli pesto
Coriander leaves    10 stalks
Garlic        6 cloves
Green chilli    5
Olive oil        3 tbsp
Almond toasted    2 tbsp
Chop the coriander leaves, garlic and green chilli. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend into a coarse paste.
Garnish the soup with coriander chilli pesto.

Warm Chicken liver salad

Chicken liver    100 gm
Olive oil    30 ml
Crushed black     1 tsp
Salt    1/2 tsp
Chilli flakes    1/2 tsp

Onion    1
Mushroom    3
Toasted almonds    1 tbsp
French beans    3
Iceberg lettuce    1/4
Vegetable oil    3 tbsp
Balsamic vinegar    1 tbsp
Garlic    2 cloves
Salt    ½ tsp
Crushed black     1/2 tsp
Mustard paste    1/2 tsp
Marinate the chicken liver and leave it aside for 15 minutes.
Cut the onion into half and cut into thick slices.
Crush the toasted almonds, cook the beans in boiling salted water and refresh in ice cold water to retain the green colour.
Wash and pat dry the lettuce with a paper towel.
Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients.
Heat a non-stick pan until smoking hot, add the liver and pan fry well, now add the onions and sauté until onions are soft, add the mushrooms and sauté.
Remove from the pan and put in a mixing bowl, add the beans and lettuce. Toss with the dressing.
Garnish with toasted almonds.

Warm Chicken liver saladWarm Chicken liver salad

Watermelon skin pickle

2 cups of watermelon skin,
cut into cubes
2 tbsp of salt (you may need to adjust this)
1/4 cup of gingely oil (can be substituted with veg oil)
2.5 tsp of black mustard seeds
1/2  tsp of fenugreek seeds
2  strands of curry leaves
2-3 tsp of red chilli powder
2 tsp of vinegar

Watermelon skin pickleWatermelon skin pickle

Cut the watermelon skin into cubes, ensuring that all the flesh is removed and marinate with the salt and keep aside for 20 minutes.
Mix together 2 tsp of mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and make into a powder.
Heat the oil in a pan and when hot add the remaining mustard seeds and crackle them, add the curry leaves and add the chilli powder and powdered mustard and fenugreek powder. Sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the salted watermelon cubes, vinegar and toss well.
Leave it to cool down and store in an air tight container.