Child-friendly Indian dishes to broaden your child’s palate
If you have young children, mealtimes can be something of a battle. You want them to eat fresh, healthy food and broaden their culinary horizons, while they either want something bland and familiar or worse,aren’t interested in eating at all and would rather get back to playing.
But with nutrition being an essential part of our children’s lives, it’s important not to give up and to introduce them to as many different foods as possible in those influential early years.
You might assume that spicy Indian food wouldn’t be suitable for children with Western palates, or that they would turn their nose up at recipes using unfamiliar ingredients. However, children can often surprise you with how adventurous they can be – so, here are some fresh and exciting Indian recipes that your little ones will surely love.
Recipes for authentic Khichdi go as far back as the 16th century. This mixture of rice, lentils, vegetables and sometimes meat or fish can be cooked until very soft, meaning it’s ideal for young children and toddlers who are first exploring solid food. For a simple kids’ recipe, combine cracked wheat, rice, chopped tomato, spinach and cauliflower, and sauté in heated ghee and a small amount of spices such as cumin and turmeric.
Known as vadas or vadais, these crisp, tasty fritters are a traditional snack often sold by street vendors throughout Hyderabad, the capital of India’s Telangana state. These patties are made by combining a range of ingredients – usually potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, onions and spinach – with rice powder, partially ground sweetcorn, garlic and coriander, and mixing to a batter. This is then shaped into balls and deep-fried or baked until golden brown and served with chutney or ketchup for younger tastes.
A dosa is a crepe or pancake made using a batter consisting of blended rice and fermented black lentil paste. The batter can take a long time to prepare, but once it’s ready it can be kept in the fridge to be used at a later time. As with any pancake, dosas are incredibly versatile and act as a delicious base for a variety of toppings and fillings, both sweet and savoury. Another idea is to mix some vegetable puree into the batter – it will turn them a fun colour and add some extra nutritional value to the dish.
GajarkaHalwa is an exceptionally popular dessert that is enjoyed throughout India by both children and adults. This sweet treat is made by stirring grated carrots with water, milk, ghee and sugar and cooking until the milk has evaporated. Nuts such as almonds or pistachios can also be added according to your own tastes, and it can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Once you have introduced your children to an authentic taste of India, hopefully they will be keen to try more. Head toone of London’s Indian brasseries where their chefs serve up real Indian delicacies including street food, thalis and flavourful curries.