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Om shanti Om- pineapple, rose, ginger and cinnamon lassi

12 Nov

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

We saw a glimpse of the sunshine last weekend. We took my boy to feed the cows at the local temple and we walked in the cold, in the sun, wrapped up and smiling. The simple pleasures in life are much more fun when there is light. The sunshine makes such a difference to my mood and every time I say this my husband tells me how small the world is and how we could just go…go somewhere sunnier. Tempting.

The world is small isn’t it. Also at the weekend I was sending a very lovely and friendly magazine editor some insights into where to eat and what to eat in Amritsar. I talked to him about a very humble eatery that is very popular in Amritsar because they serve the best kulcha and lacha paratha. I remember seeing large and flash cars park outside the doors and send their staff in for paratha. I ate the best sheera at the golden temple which was made with the freshest, most luxurious ghee and I ate deep, brown, and earthy curries with a side portion of butter.

All of this was washed down with lassi. Salty, sweet, spiced, of fruity. They we thick and creamy, full of yoghurt and they settled any tingles of heat for the spices in the tummy. They also made me sleepy, which isn’t a bad thing.

With these relaxing thoughts, I needed a fix at the weekend and my foodie friends on twitter suggested lassi. It was mean to me.

Ingredients

300g fresh pineapple peeled and cut into chunks
500ml fresh, natural yoghurt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
5tbsp rose water
3/4 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp agave nectar

Method
1. Put the pineapple chunks, ginger, cinnamon and agave nectar in a pan and heat on a low to medium flame until they have softened and you can mash them. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool completely.
2. Mix the yoghurt, rose water,and pineapple chunks and then blitz them together until smooth.
3. Serve cold and add sunshine if possible.

Family friendly, hot pink rice and quinoa (Beetroot, butternut squash and Indian spices)

8 Nov

Family friendly, hot pink rice and quinoa (Beetroot, butternut squash and Indian spices)

We all know that there is a relationship between bright and deep coloured food and how alluring we find them and this seems as, if not more true with little people. I showed my toddler some Beetroot other day and thankfully he only had a vest on at the time. ‘Oooh, what’s that mumma’.

I’d caught his interest, clearly. I willed him to bite into a chunk as I let him mess about with it. I recalled a magazine editor telling me that her fussy eater showed no interest in food until he went fishing and caught a fish which he then wanted to eat as he was involved from catching it, to cooking it. Maybe this messy Beetroot was my boys fish?

He did bite into it, but he didn’t ingest any, it ended up in my palm. Great. But it did get me thinking about how I could get him to eat beetroot given that he liked colour. I thought about my visits to Mumbai and being surprised at the inclusion of Beetroot in so many dishes. ‘I thought beetroot is a western vegetable’, I questioned. You can imagine what they thought of that!

There was beetroot in masala sarnies (freaking awesome), beetroot in dosa, beet in chaat, beet in gram flour fritters even. I didn’t see any Beetroot in curries…why haven’t I made one yet? It transpired that Beetroot works pretty well with masala and everyone loves rice don’t they, especially kids.

My recipe today is deep, sweet, spicy and alluring. That just sounded a big like one of those dating adverts didn’t it? Or a blind date catch line. Jokes aside, it’s light, packed, juicy and beautiful.

Ingredients

250g cooked Beetroot, cut into chunks
200g basmati rice, washed
200g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp ground nut oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
One red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
One red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste d
250g red and white quinoa (I used the merchant gourmet ready to eat pack)
200g basmati

Method
1. Par boil the rice, for about 8minutes until the rice has swelled and needs the starch removed. Wash the rice and drain the water and leave it to a side.
2. Boil the butternut squash until it is soft enough to piece all the way through. Drain and leave it to a side.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric and chilli. Allow the seeds to crackle and then add the onion and salt. Sauté until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
4. Stir in the Beetroot and butternut squash and then add the black pepper.
5. Blend the butternut squash and Beetroot smooth and turn the heat down to a flicker.
6. Introduce the rice and the quinoa and gently blend it all together. Cook for a further 6-7 minutes on a low flame until the rice is cooked.

Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

Faster And Vaster Pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

19 Oct

The other day my lovely friend and her gorgeous boy came over for a play date. As soon as the biscuits and fruits came out my friends happy and eager toddler was at them and when he had finished his, he wanted mine and everyone else’s and he whimpered in protest when we denied his prizing goodies from our mouths. Meanwhile, when my boy was offered fruits, chocolate biscuits, rice cakes…guess what his answer was? ‘

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

No mumma’.

I do concern myself about how to get some sort of varied and balanced diet into my boy when he is so reluctant, if not refuting active participation. I wish I could just give him raw carrots and raisins for him to tuck into, particularly as we know that raw foods are more nutrition packed than cooked foods. Some of the principles I’m learning are important;

1. Variety, keep them interested by offering small portions of a few food groups at meal times

2. Eat the same foods as the little ones, they often want to join in

3. Keep it tasty, why would they want to eat bland and boring food?

4. New recipes, new stimulations. It may seem easy to stick to their favourite recipes, but new foods arouse new interest and it’s just easier to hook them in!

5. Be happy and relax. Participation is more likely to happen if everyone is having fun.

Now, I’m all for having one meal for everyone; less time in the kitchen and less cleaning-hooray! But I’m not eating teeny broccoli and cheese pasta. This very grown up and somewhat classy recipe is a gorgeous blend of fresh flavours. Each ingredient speaks volumes and is very detectable without being difficult or slow to munch. It’s a grainy pesto that is nutty, herby and slightly tangy-sweet. It’s moist and moorish. It’s a filling dish with a variety of nutrients and has a pretty colour of green nuts. We all enjoyed this recipe at lunch time today, I wish I had made some extra pesto and frozen it. Next time….

Ingredients

200g broccoli cut into medium-sized florets
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of oily sundried tomatoes
2/3 cup of walnuts
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cup of chopped basil
3tbsp of the sundried tomato oil (from the jar)
3tbsp water
Some feta or cheese of your choice to crumble on top
500g pasta

Method

1. Toast the nuts on a non stick pan until they catch a lightly browned colour, then let them cool
2. Boil the broccoli for about  3 minutes and then drain the water
3. Put the broccoli, basil, nuts, lemon juice, salt and sundried tomatoes into a food processor and blitz it together.
4. When the mixture is coarse, mix drizzle in the oil and water whilst the processor is still churning the pesto.image
5. Boil the pasta per the packet instructions and drain. When the pesto is ready, mix it well with the pasta and serve with a little crumbled feta (or cheese of your choice).

If you like novel  and scrummy pasta recipes, why not check these out 

Coriander, ginger and basil pesto pasta with toasted cashews and peanuts

Indian spiced pea puree pasta

Cooking with Herbs

image

Mixed grains and vegetables in a tangy and fragrant coconut kadhi

15 Oct
Mixed grains and vegetables in a tangy and fragrant coconut kadhi

Mixed grains and vegetables in a tangy and fragrant coconut kadhi

We were in temple at Virpur in 1991 and we were travelling around pilgrimage and tourist sites of India. Some places we stayed in seemed shabby-palatial and some felt like cold student halls. My dad describes himself as atheist, but it isn’t true. He lights a diva in the morning (sometimes) and questions God often. Being in Virpur was very deliberate and it was a calming experience. It is the birth place of Jalaram Bapa and my family all have pictures or deities of him at home. Apparently my dad would pray to him for a little girl, before I arrived. And whilst my mum was in the throes of a terrible labour, Jalaram Bapa was whom he called upon.

We all sat on the floor with scores of other worshippers in an organised line and waited to be served. Slim men scooted around barefoot and expertly and neatly lay banana leaves before us. They could have been another form of leaf, I can’t quite recall. They were certainly not plates though. It was a novel experience for me and I was already charmed.

Before I knew it, hot, smooth, buttery and almost runny khichdi drizzled before me and then a gram flour and yoghurt soup, tempered in whole spices, curry leaves, chillies and ginger. Now, I eat with my fingers a lot but I was baffled as to how I would scoop khichdi into my mouth. But scoop I did.

I don’t know how much romanticism there is in my recollections of this experience, but look…clearly the experience has stuck in my mind after all these years. As you would expect, the kadhi was gloriously tangy, moderately spicy, creamy and slightly sweet. I loved it.

When I weaned my boy onto solids, I felt like I had the only child in the world that wouldn’t open that tiny mouth. I even bought an Annabel karmel book on purees. I tried it all; banana, butternut squash, baby rice, blueberries and carrots. Cauliflower cheese even, but nothing. He would turn his face and purse his lips. One day when I had made spinach kadhi for my husband ( he adores it) my little one grabbed the spoon and opened his mouth. Since then, kadhi has been his favourite food.

One of the awesome things about kadhi is that it is easy to bulk up. I add all sorts of vegetables, lentils, greens to it. This, However is one of my favourite recipes from my kadhi creations. It’s a one-pot, which makes my life simpler. It’s really easy to do; I made the lot in under twenty minutes and that includes chopping and mixing. This kadhi has grains in it, which we know are really good for us! I used the merchant gourmet pack which includes barley, quinoa and lentils and it does the job well! The coconut is delicate, smells divine and adds sweetness. Traditionally jaggery is added for sweetness. I’ve got some lovely and mellow veg in there, which you could vary. Hug a bowl of this and let it turn on the internal heating.

Ingredients

200g cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
100g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
100g asparagus cut into bite sized pieces
One large red onion, sliced
5-6 curry leaves
One stick of cinnamon
2 cloves
1 tsp minced ginger
One can of good quality coconut cream
500ml water
One pack of merchant gourmet mixed grains
2 tbsp ground nut oil
1 cup plain, natural yoghurt
1 tbsp gram flour
One red chilli, finely chopped
3/4 tsp brown (not black) mustard seeds
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
A squeeze of lime juice

Method

1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, chilli and turmeric. When the seeds sizzle and pop add the onion and ginger and sauté until the onion has softened.
2. Whilst the onion is softening, mix the yoghurt and gram flour to a paste and put it to a side for a couple of moments.
3. Mix the vegetables into the tempering and coat then well with the oil. Then add the yoghurt and gram flour paste, coconut milk and water and stir again before adding the salt and lime juice (just one squeeze)
4. Tip the mixed grains in and loosen them up.
5. Bring the kadhi to boil and simmer on a medium flame for about 10 minutes.

Serve lashings no lashings of it immediately

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Kiddy friendly tomato and roasted red pepper rice with sweetcorn

12 Sep

imageKiddy friendly tomato and roasted pepper rice with sweetcorn

Life is full of beautiful moments when there is a child around.  Before bedtime yesterday, my boy sat on my tummy whilst I lay on the bed and he demonstrated a brand new learning.  I love it when he surprises me like this.  I don’t drill things into him, I much prefer that his own curiosity and his own rhythm reach him to fresh learnings.  Anyway, his face was aglow with pensive excitement as he told me stuff that I knew all along but of course he told it like it was red-hot, novel  information, ‘mumma, I like helicopters,  I like cars, I like animals, I like sev mumra (puffed rice and gram flour straws), I like tumeta bhath (tomato rice).  I asked him what mumma likes and he said, ‘ummm..biscuits’.
Of course he’s pooped in the bath tub twice this week and I am somewhat less enchanted by that.
He then didn’t want to get off my tummy and kept climbing back on for cuddles and to tell me about more stuff that he likes. ‘I like Andy airplane, I like….’ But I was still stuck on the tomato rice bit.
So today, that’s what’s I gave him.  If you’ve been reading my tweets you know how insanely difficult my boy is to feed.  You know I’ve tried it all.  Each meal time starts with an internal prayer and Chant, ‘I flipping hope he eats this, I flipping hope he eats this’
So,  I had the colouring book out and a book about diggers, because he likes diggers.  I mounted a bright blue spoon with red rice, because he likes the colour blue and he’s just told me likes tomato rice, so I hoped. And guess what? ‘Mmm, yummy yummy.’
There must be something about this dish, I recall having experimented with it as a teenager and then finding my brother, scoffing it into his gob directly from the cooking pan.
You could just use tomatoes alone in this dish, but the peppers add great nutrition and flavour.  My boy also likes paprika and I know this because I bought  Ruffles paprika flavoured crisps recently and he kept pinching them from my hands.
Ingredients
3/4 cup of long grain rice, I used Tilda Basmati
One medium onion, finely chopped
Two medium sized roasted red peppers
2/3 can of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup of sweetcorn
The spices; 1/3tsp turmeric, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin seeds
1. Boil the rice in plenty of water for 8-10minutes on a medium flame and then wash it in cold water and leave to one side
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds.  Allow the seeds to sizzle before stirring in the onion and adding the turmeric.  Soften the onion fit a couple of minutes before adding the garlic.  Cook until the onion has softened.
3. Add the tomatoes and chop the red pepper into chunks before adding that.
4. Stir in the paprika and simmer for 4-5 minutes on a medium to low flame.  Turn the sauce into a food processor and blitz it to a smooth consistency.
5. Stir in the rice and add about 30ml of water with the sweetcorn ( defrost first if you are using frozen sweetcorn) and heat the mixture to a simmer again. Turn to a low flame and cook until the water has reduced, the rice is separated and cooked.  This should take 8-10minutes.
Serve with smiles and confidence.  I also served with vegetable wedges, because he likes it.
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