Make The Most Of Your Produce

Discover the art of using the whole vegetable. Don’t discard those radish leaves, banana skins or watermelon rind

1/2/2018 8:01:05 PM
written By : Nithya Subramanian Print

Remember the time your grandmother threw in some washed up coriander stems into a pot of rasam or smacked jackfruit seeds and cooked it with dal. Another time your mom chopped up all the radish leaves and turned them into a delicious stir fry or when we as young children broke open seeds of peaches or plums to extract the ‘almonds’ in the pits.

Food has always been sacred in Asian culture, and food wastage was considered almost a sin. How often have we been reminded by our older family members to take only that much that we could eat? But before that, they believed in using every part of a vegetable, fruit or meat that was edible.

Now the West seems to have taken to this concept and according to retailer Whole Foods, the Root-to-Stem concept is expected to be the big hot trend in 2018. High-end restaurants have already got into it, but others too are expected to follow suit. So wine flavoured with peach leaves, toasted watermelon seeds or beet root leaves pesto are expected to be on the dining tables.

Food waste has become a hotly debated topic. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$680 billion in industrialised countries and US$310 billion in developing countries. “Moreover, fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food”, it said.

Besides much of the ‘waste’ in fruits and vegetables have important nutients presnt in them. For instance, pineapple skin helps in digestion, have anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties, while also aiding in weight loss. Radish leaves are rich in vitamins and nutrients, act as natural diuretic and useful in treating jaundice while banana peels are rich sources of potassium and contain much more soluble and insoluble fibre than their flesh promoting digestion and bowel movements and reducing blood cholesterol levels. Watermelon rind, much like the flesh of a watermelon, is mostly made of water. The diuretic and hydrating properties of the peel with its powerful cleansing abilities are beneficial for improving the functions of kidneys and for treating urinary tract infections.

Keeping this in mind, here are five interesting dishes that can be made from ingredients that you might trash.   

Radish Leaves Sabzi


  • 2 cups radish, chopped
  • 5 cups radish leaves, chopped
  • 4 green chillies
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 3/4 tsp carom seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli pdr
  • 1 tsp dry mango pdr
  • 1 tsp coriander pdr


  1. Wash the raddish and its leaves.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add carom seeds , asafoetida and chopped green chillies and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add turmeric and chopped radish cubes. Cook covered for a few minutes. Once it starts becoming translucent, add the washed leaves, salt and remaining spices. 
  4. Stir-fry on high heat for a few minutes and the reduce the flame and cook for a few minutes. Serve hot with chapatis.


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