Tag Archives: Toddler food

Beetroot, fenugreek and roasted garlic chapatti (thepla)

21 Aug

I’m pretty sure so far, that if at the gates of heaven (and I know that I am being presumptuous here) I am asked which period of my life I would like to live for eternity, it would be my boy’s young and charming days.

Beetroot thepla by Deena Kakaya

As we embark on the next leg of our journey together and slightly apart for the first time ever (mornings of nursery school), I look back with smiles, pride and deep satisfaction at the moments we have shared together, so far. When he falls in the park, he dusts himself off and says, ‘don’t worry mumma, I’m OK’. When the boy in the park today screamed and shouted for a turn on the machine that my boy was playing with he stepped off and said, ‘don’t cry, it’s just called sharing’. Completely unprompted and wonderfully frequently he will tell me that he loves me. Today as I rushed him to get dressed in the cubicle before his impending swimming lesson, he casually swung his legs and chattered away to me about veins being like tunnels for romans. As I told him off for not removing his shoes despite being asked thrice, he said ‘mumma, you look beautiful today’. We cuddled into giggle-fits as I felt enchanted by my three year old and he knew that I had busted his game, but it had worked.

Our week so far as included toddler football, mini golf at the local golf course, rides-animals-theatre and carrot digging at the farm, scooters in the park, swimming and a visit to the zoo scattered with a few play dates. My favourite was the themed carrot digging and his was the zoo, of course. Through all of these activities, my least favourite part is lunchtime. I know, I know – I have read all the stuff about mum’s attitude towards meal times rub off on the child and it should be a relaxed and fun time without pressing on quantities or content but frankly, I find mealtimes wearing. The last thing I want to do is to melt into persuasion and declining on a fun day out. We sat on the front bench , under the sun to watch the sheep song and dance thingey and I asked him to look back at the the crowd on the benches. I asked him what the children were all doing, ‘eating sandwiches’. So I asked if he would like one too. Very simply, it’s a no; he is three years old and he has never eaten a sandwich.

Spicy fenugreek chappati (thepla) are the ultimate food for days out, or at least they have been for me. As I was growing up, they travelled with us to picnic and coach journeys to the beach. They even made it to the airport and beyond, you know- just in case. They came with me to university as they have a longer life than many other foods and during my pregnancy I ate them every day with lashings of yoghurt and some pickle. Is it any wonder then that my boy loves them too? I think of variations on thepla to get some added nutrition in; sometimes I add paneer to give a real moist texture and sometimes roasted vegetable and I have even added banana. One of my favourites is this hot pink version, which my boy calls ‘peppa pig thepla’. I ate them with The Cheeky Food Company’s mango pickle which they sent me to taste. Have to say, it took me by surprise; it’s not vinegary or overly sour or even too hot, it has the home made taste!

Ingredients to make approximately 20 thepla

2 cups of chapatti flour

¾ cup finely chopped fenugreek leaves

2 pinches of ajwain (carom seeds)

½ tsp. turmeric

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. plain yoghurt

half bulb of roasted garlic (I put mine in the oven for half an hour at 180 degrees)

100g cooked beetroot, pureed

Salt to taste

3-4 tbsp. water, if needed

Vegetable Oil for greasing the chappati

Tip: keep a small bowl of vegetable oil with spoon ready near your tava to use for the thepla

Method

  1. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the oil. Mix the oil with the flour until it’s evenly distributed.
  2. Now add the turmeric, salt and ajwain and mix well, then mix in the fenugreek leaves
  3. Introduce the yoghurt, beetroot, roasted garlic and then knead the dough. Add water until a soft and springy dough forms. I usually drizzle on a little oil over the dough.
  4. Heat the tava on a medium to low flame and then start to roll the thepla.
  5. Take equally sized portions of dough (about the size of a golf ball) and roll them to a thin chappati and then toast it on side until it begins to form bubbles and then flip it over and repeat. Flip it over again, drizzle it lightly with oil- uses the back of your spoon to evenly distribute the oil and then repeat.

 

 

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.

Kiddy friendly, baked paneer and courgette spring rolls

3 Sep

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Kiddy friendly, baked paneer and courgette spring rolls

Feeding my little one is obscenely challenging.  I am not over reacting.  Here are some of the useless and aggravating comments made by people who think that they know better.
1. Leave him.  This is on the top of my list for a very good reason! Yes, tried that.  An entire day can pass but if the food doesn’t do it for him, it’s not going into that little tummy.  He will, if slept, take an interest in foods that he wants to take an interest in.  He touches everything to his lips.  Even if it has been hours and hours since he last ate, it has to pass that taste and texture test!
2. Let him play with and explore the food.  Yes, of course I’ve tried that..come on.  My child is very good at throwing; ask my walls, floors and the ants that he attracts.  He’s also very good at squashing, squashed courgette pakora make interesting patterns on white clothes, I’ve learned.
3. Give him a sandwich.  My child is the reincarnation of an indian villager.  He will eat a spinach curry in a chappati but he won’t eat a sandwich.
4. Give him what he likes.  Should I just laugh at this one?
5.  Turn the telly on.  Even with help of special agent OSO, Ra Ra the noisy little lion, Curious George, or my personal favourite of Charlie and Lola, he still knows what he wants and doesn’t want.
6. He won’t starve, he has stores.  Sigh. Yes, but if we can get through the day without hunger strikes and some down time (naps happen when tummies are full ish) I could see fields of green, skies that are blue, red roses too…
7. He will probably never be an eater.  This is what a health visitor said to me. It was like being back at school when that horrid teacher decided to publicly announced his predictions of each class members GCSE grades and their future careers.  I remember internally screeching, ‘don’t tell me what I’m going to be! I will carve that out!’
So I composed myself, shut down the expletives that were exploding in my mind and said, as calmly as I could, ‘my parents tell me that I was absolutely worse than him, but look at me now’
Are you sensing the exhaustion? Do you have it too?
All of the above said, I do have to set some boundaries.  We don’t spend infinite amounts of time in the high chair.  There is no forcing.  I don’t wedge his mouth open amidst screams and shovel food in.  He does not get a bag of crisps to replace a meal, just because he likes it.  We just move on, smile and hope for better the next time around.  I want my little monster to see food in the way I do; pleasure-giving and satisfying.  I want him to explore his senses and creativity through food. It’s so uplifting isn’t it?
I don’t think I have ever been so tested as a food writer.  My son, without doubt, is definitely the toughest person ever to please.  I’ve devised an array of recipes that have been super hits…but alas, phases pass so I keep creating! I will share them with you however, in case you find yourself flopped on the chair asking your little one, ‘so what will you eat eh?’.
I learn as we grow together, my boy and I. Things that may seem obvious to the more experienced mum, I just learn…gradually. For example, my boy never took to purees.  Of all the babies that I had come across, I’d never seen a baby that wouldn’t eat a purée.
Anyway, after a good couple of months of trying, someone said to me, ‘well he’s been tasting what you’ve been eating since he could taste in your tummy till now, why would he want to eat boring bland stuff’. I mean, isn’t it obvious? Why didn’t I think of that? So I did a mild, salt-free dhal. Bingo.
My boy then wouldn’t accept a spoon. Not accept a spoon, who does this?! So I gave him breadsticks, melon, green beans..and he would chomp on it.  But this felt like diet food, just  like the mush they call baby food in the supermarket aisles.  No butter, no cheese…so I have him bread with soft cheese it or buttered chappati.  As you can imagine, he quickly grew bored.
Amusingly, when we would eat out as a family, my boy would go for the onion fritters, samosa, Chinese rice, pasta, spicy chappati…anything that tasted flavoursome.  I think it can be a misconception that little mouths like plain and simple food…so many kids I know love garlic bread, that’s hardly a subtle taste is it?
So, the challenge was to make foods that my little one could hold and that contained something valuable to his growth and then just let him do his thing, calmly.   Here’s one that seems to be working really well at the moment.  My little one loves crunchy textures and spices and you can change the filling to suit what your child likes.  You could of course make a few grown up spring rolls just by adding salt to your own stuffing, so that you can all enjoy rating the same food together,
Kiddy friendly, baked paneer and courgette spring rolls
Makes 20 rolls
Ingredients
One small red onion, finely diced
One medium courgette, grated
Quarter tin of chopped tomatoes
A knob of unsalted butter for frying
 10 sheets of spring roll pastry
125g paneer, grated
1tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Method
1. Heat the butter and add cumin seeds for a minute, then the onion and soften until transparent
2. Stir in the paneer and the courgette and then the spices and seasonings.  Mix well, then add the tomatoes.  Cook until the courgette has softened enough for you to break between your fingers.
3. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then blitz it together into a coarse texture.
4. Cut a spring roll sheet in half and then place about half a tablespoon of stuffing at the bottom of the sheet, leaving an inch of space. Fold in the sides by. 2-3cm and simply roll
5. Lightly coat the spring rolls in oil and then bake until they are crispy and lightly golden.
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