While ‘trash cooking’ maybe a trend today, it is actually an age old practice that was meticulously followed during the yesteryears. This concept of ‘root to shoot‘ cooking is currently being propogated by culinary experts and chefs around the world to tackle the serious issue of food waste. But if you speak to your mom or grandmom, they are sure to come up with myriad ways of using what we usually dispose off as “trash” or waste”.
Whether it is the ridge gourd peel that is made into a ‘chutney’ or the ‘seedy pumpkin pulp’ that is promptly put into the dosa batter, our elders always ensured that the entire produce is used effectively. A great way to ensure that waste is kept to a minimum, it is also a healthy way of eating as seeds and peels are rich in fibre and vitamins.
My grandmother too was a great proponent of trash cooking and she always made sure that nothing got wasted in her little kitchen that fed an army of 8 children. Widowed at a young age, she ensured that she made best use of the little resources she had. One of her favourite recipes was a chutney she made from okra tops or crowns that I discard very often even today. The recipe below is an ode to her fiery spirit.
- 1 cup okra tops (cut from about 500 gm of okra)
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 tsp Bengal gram (channa dal)
- 2 tsp Urad dal (black gram)
- 3 red chillies
- a small piece of tamrind
- 3 tbsp freshly ground coconut
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 red chilli
- a pinch of asafoetida
- Heat ghee in a pan and fry the okra tops/crowns thoroughly on low flame till the stickiness disappears.
- Heat one tbsp coconut oil and add all ingredients except fresh coconut listed under “for grinding”.
- Fry till golden brown after which add the fried okra tops and fry for a few minutes.
- Allow the mixture to cool down.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender and add coconut and salt. Grind to a coarse paste and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Heat one tbsp of coconut oil, add mustard seeds and once they splutter add red chillies and a pinch of asafoetida.
- Add this seasoning to the chutney and enjoy with hot rice or roti.
- If the okra tops are not fried thoroughly, the chutney will have a sticky consistency.
- Adjust the fenugreek level per your taste. This will give the dish a bitter tinge. If you are not a fan of the taste, you can eliminate it.
- You can add curry leaves to the seasoning.