Daily Reflections

Just enough … Waste not

The world is in a strange space – on one hand, you have millions dying of hunger, or living with malnutrition and on the other hand, we waste tonnes of food. Walk into an office cafeteria that has a lunch buffet or even a restaurant that has a buffet or the most notorious of all, weddings… people heap their plates with a mountain of food and throw away more than half of it, sometimes more. The food might not be to our taste, or we might not be hungry, but we display our scarcity mentality the minute we find food, by hoarding it. Mankind produces enough food for all the 7 billion people living on Earth today, the challenge is to change this behaviour of wasting perfectly edible food without a care.

While growing up, Appa would say at every meal, “finish what’s on your plate. There are many people who don’t get food, so don’t waste”. He would be furious if I took more than what I could eat and tried to throw it away. Many times either he or Amma have eaten what I left on the plate just so that the food was not wasted. Dad had first hand experience of hunger, as he and his siblings had survived many days on just tubers, roots and a small quantity of gruel (kanji). All my aunts and uncles are super sensitive to food wastage. I distinctly remember an incident when I was 8 or 9 years old. I was not hungry, but took rice and rasam to eat… didn’t like it, so added curd.. still didn’t like it and started to cry. Appa told me to stop crying and eat it up or that he would put the whole thing on my head so that I was forced to wash my long hair in the evening, as a never-to-forget-lesson on food wastage. I kept howling and refused to eat it. He did indeed put it on my head and I had to wash my hair. He had done the same thing to Radha Athai, his sister :). Athai and I have never wasted food after that, ever. We have only thrown out stale food and that too rarely !

Yesterday I made “Manthakkali” vathal Kozhambu for lunch. Here’s a pic of the quantity I made –

Its exactly 250 ml – just enough for the three of us for one meal. My mother kept wondering if this would be sufficient even for one meal but it was. This is courtesy the OPOS (One Pot One Shot) way of cooking. Because of OPOS, I have started to measure everything and it allows me to make just enough for one person, or two people or for one meal. Leftovers are rare, and no food gets wasted. Am sure Appa would have taken to OPOS like a duck to water, and he must be smiling wherever he is, that finally here’s a way of cooking that avoids wastage.

The OPOSed Manathakkali Vathal Kuzhambu –

In a 2 Lit Pressure Cooker, layer as follows –

1 TBSP Gingelly oil (Sesame oil), A few curry leaves

One lemon sized ball of OPOS Tamarind paste nicely squeezed in 1 cup water

1 TSP Bottled Tadka, salt to taste, a pinch of Turmeric and Asafoetida

1TBSP + 1TSP – OPOS Pulikaichal powder

Add 2 TBSP of fried Manathakkali Vathal.

Cook on high for 2 whistles – it is usually under 3 minutes and you are done.

Fry the Manathakkali vatical separately, they are basically sundried after soaking them in buttermilk, so they are raw. They need to be fried.

I also made beetroot as a side dish to go with the rice. Again OPOSed that curry in under 6 minutes. Took a little longer as the beets were in the fridge and needed a few extra whistles to get cooked.

The important thing is – there are no leftovers, and we had enough to eat.

Please don’t waste food.. take a little to start with and you can always go back for seconds. There is enough food for everyone. 

Read about the incident that happened to Ratan Tata at a restaurant in Hamburg, Germany – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mr-ratan-tata-tweet-food-wastage-nikhel-k-visputte.

Note – OPOS is trademarked. Its a cooking methodology developed by Mr. Ramakrishnan. Do not try the method mentioned above without learning about OPOS. Please join the revolution on the FB page “OPOS Support group” and enjoy fresh food thats just enough. 


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