Baby/Kid friendly

Sundried Bitter Oranges (Narnga Batte / Kanchi Batte)

narnga batte
‘Narnga’ or ‘kanchi kaayi’ or ‘heraLe kaayi’ is a kind of bitter orange available in some(or all) parts of India. These are slightly bitter in taste, we have not seen anyone eating the ripened fruit. We always get the green ones which are used for sundried items or pickle. This is the season on Narnga here, so I prepared a big batch of narnga batte this year. Every year we get few of fresh narnga from our neighbors.

Narnga/Naranga batto/batti is one thing that almost all Konkanis like. These are usually given to the people who are suffering from fever and lost their taste. These are spicy, saltly and sour. They taste heavenly when consumed with rice congee(Pej/ganji). These are a must in most of the Konkani houses throughout the year. My kids and all the other kids who visited us loved these with congee.

We also make a tasty chutney with it. Thanks to Pelicano, we think it is called bitter oranges.

Ingredients:
5-6 narnga
Salt
1/2 cup chilli powder
1/2 tea spn asafoetida powder or a big piece of asafoetida stone

Method:
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Cut narnga into thin pieces. Remove the white pit and seeds, discard them.
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In a ceramic jar, put the pieces and salt enough to cover pieces. Close the lid tightly and leave it in a dry place for about 15 days to one month till the skin becomes slightly soft. Every day open the lid and mix the pieces to make sure salt gets to all pieces.
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Take out the pieces. Add chilli powder, asafoetida to the pieces, mix very well.
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Sundry the pieces till they are completely dry.
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Store in dry air tight container. They get darker and darker in color as time passes, after almost a year, they get black but they still can be used.

 

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Raita with Chutney Pitto (Powder)

raita with chutney pitto Few weeks ago, we had been to a week long trip to South Dakota. We had rented a house there and we cooked most of the meals at home. Since 3 families went together, the food became a little more elaborate than what I usually make on any trips.  I took a pack of freshly made peanut chutney powder, my plan was to eat it with rice. My friends mom, who also came with us, prepared this easy but delicious raita with chutney pitto. Although I was a bit skeptical when she mentioned this, I became an instant fan when I tasted this. After coming home, I tried it again. This time, I asked Ishaan to make it and he was very excited. Although, it is not actually a recipe. I thought of posting it here, it is a fun thing to do for kids and tastes great.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated cucumber
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1-2 tbl spn peanut chutney powder
1 cup yogurt
Salt

Method:
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Mix all the ingredients and serve.

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Ground Chicken Nuggets

ground chicken nuggets

I have a strong aversion for any ready made frozen stuff. I am ok to eat them once in a while on vacations, but I try not to buy them when I am at home. So I have been trying to make chicken nuggets at home. We have recently started ordering nuggets  for Ishaan at restaurants and he eats them sometimes and just walks away some other times.

The only thing I have ever prepared with ground chicken was kheema, since it does not look like chicken no one wants to touch it (other than me, who is a big fan). So I decided to make something different this time. I wanted to make something that Ishaan would eat, so burger was out of question. He does not care for them so far, I will introduce it slowly. I tried these nuggets, all of us really enjoyed them. The best part was, since I used ground chicken, the spices got mixed with every bit and they turned very flavorful. Just make sure not to over cook them.

Ingredients:
1 lb (approx 0.45kg) ground chicken breasts
1 tea spn thick yogurt
1 tea spn chilli powder
1/2 tea spn garam masala
1 tbl spn finely chopped ginger
1 tbl spn finely chopped garlic
1 tbl spn finely chopped coriander leaves
1 cup bread crumbs
Oil
Salt

Method:
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Add yogurt, chilli powder, garam masala, ginger, garlic, coriander leaves and salt to chicken and leave it aside in refrigerator for 30mins-1hr.
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Heat a tava (I used cast iron) and spread some oil.
Make small balls of the chicken mixture, slightly press them on the palm of your hand. Then roll them in bread crumbs. Shallow fry them till chicken is completely cooked through.
Serve hot on their own or with ketchup or a cold raita.

Serves : 4-5
Preparation time : 30mins

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Tomato Vegetable Pasta Sauce For Ravioli / Spaghetti

tomato veg pasta sauce

I get many requests to post kid friendly recipes. Ishaan starting eating what we eat from a very young age. There are many things that he does not want to touch – like most of the vegetables. But I always serve him everything that I have prepared. I give him very small quantities, sometimes I ask him to serve food by his own. He tries a little bit some days and other days he does not want to do anything with the vegetables. I am hoping, he will soon start trying new things. He is more open to pastas though. So I experiment a lot with different pastas and pasta sauces.

I have always loved Ravioli. So I introduced it to Ishaan and he loved it too. I usually buy these from the frozen section of grocery stores. I have tried raviolis with different fillings – like cheese, winter squash etc. I am not sure how he will like the spinach filling, yet to try that. I normally buy Ravioletti – which are miniature versions of Raviolis. I make the sauce at home by adding lot of veggies. When he was much younger, he would pick up the green bits from the sauce and throw them down. Now he does not mind them anymore. I use the same sauce for spaghetti also. He loves to serve himself and add the parmesan cheese on top :). The measurements are approximates only. Change them according to your choice. Sometimes I make this sauce in big batch and freeze some to use later.

Ingredients:
2-3 big tomatoes or 1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup zucchini grated
1/2 cup green bell pepper (capsicum) cut into small pieces
1/2 tea spn dried basil or 6-7 fresh leaves
1/4 tea spn black pepper
1/2 tea spn chopped garlic
Olive oil/butter
Spaghetti/Ravioli
Oil
Parmesan cheese

Method:

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Blanch the tomatoes – bring a pot of water to boil, add the tomatoes. Remove the skin and blend to a smooth paste. You can also use canned tomato paste.
Heat oil/butter and add all chopped and grated vegetables, garlic. Cook till they become soft.

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Now add the tomato paste, basil, pepper, salt. Let it cook covered for 3-4 mins.

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Cook Ravioli or Spaghetti in salted water according to package instructions. Add them to the sauce.
Serve hot topped with Parmesan cheese. I also add some pieces of butter for the kid.

tomato veg pasta sauce

Preparation time : 20mins

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Cake Balls (Inspired from Cake Pops)

cake balls

When I carve cakes like Thomas cake or football cake, one of the things I worry about are the small irregular pieces that remain after the carving is done. They are all pieces which are not so pretty to eat (they taste great) or to offer to someone. Last time, I ended up wasting most of them and felt terrible about it. This time when I prepared football cake, I wanted to do something with them. I had too many cake crumbs (is that what they are called??). I remembered seeing cake pops from some days back and decided to make them. I followed this recipe, but made them with what I had on hand (mine did not look so beautiful, will work on that next time!).

No one in my home or my friends like (or should I say prefer) too much sweet stuff, so I did not want to decorate them too much. I wanted to keep them simple, I was already tired from making the football cake. I tried making the pops with the sticks, but they kept breaking, I think I should have added some more chocolate frosting to the cake pieces. But that would make them more sweet. So I decided to just go with balls. They were delicious. I think I will be making these more often now – I may just bake a cake to make these next time.

I do not have any measurements for these because they are super simple and you can just eyeball all the ingredients.

Ingredients:
Cake pieces (I used chocolate cake)
Chocolate frosting (I used chocolate frosting)

Method:
Crumble the cake. Add some chocolate frosting and mix everything well.
Now make small balls from the mixture.
Dip the balls in remaining frosting (microwave the frosting to make it thin before doing this). Let them sit in refrigerator for few hours and serve.

Pictorial:

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Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes

eggless chocolate cupcakes

One of the biggest jobs I have after any big festivals is to finish all the fruits, vegetables, coconuts before they go bad. We bought a big batch of coconuts and fruits for the Ganapathi festival this year. While I am still working on coconuts, bananas needed immediate attention. V kept reminding me to make something with them, since they were a little bit overripe and no one likes over ripe bananas.

The first thing that came to my mind was making eggless carrot almond muffins. They were one of the best muffins I ever baked. But then I wanted to make something chocolaty. So I modified them to make these super delicious  cupcakes – they were little bit dense compared to any cakes with eggs, but still delicious. Ishaan loved eating the icing while I was making it :).

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups ripe bananas
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup almond flour/meal
1 tea spn baking powder
1 tea spn vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Method:
Preheat the oven at 350F for 10mins.
Take bananas and oil in a bowl and mix them till both are well mixed. Add sugar and mix well. Now add baking powder, vanilla and mix.
Add flour, cocoa powder and almond meal, a little at a time mixing all the time.
Line the muffin tin with muffin cups. Fill the batter to 3/4th of the cup. Bake at 350F for about 20mins or till done.

PS: you can make almond meal at home. Blanch some almonds and peel them. Spread on a clean cloth to dry. Then powder them. when I make it at home, I like to leave the skin on. I just powder the whole almonds. This time I used store bought almond meal.

Chocolate Icing:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
2 tbl spns butter
2 tbl spns confectioners sugar
1 tea spn vanilla extract

Method:
Take chocolate morsels and butter in a microwave safe dish microwave them for 1 min. Then add sugar and vanilla extract. Mix very well till everything is mixed.
Cool the cupcakes to room temperature and frost them with chocolate icing.

Makes about 14 medium sized cupcakes
Preparation time : 40mins

Method:

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Vegetable Mac and Cheese

vegetable mac n cheese

Ishaan started going to daycare at a very young age. When he was around 1 year old, they made him sit on his highchair to eat. He was all excited about feeding himself at that age. I was not a very big fan of the food provided at daycare – especially lunch, most of which was non-vegetarian. I buy mostly Organic vegetables/chicken, so the thought of him eating something else everyday at daycare was not easy to digest for me. I started sending his lunch boxes (luckily this was the only daycare which allowed us to send food!). There were hits and misses, some days he would eat everything and some days he refused to touch food. Once in two weeks, they had mac and cheese on the menu. The teachers there gave him a little bit of it to him and he would happily eat it. That’s how his love for mac and cheese started. Soon it became the one dish that he would eat without fuss anywhere. Since it is a part of most of the kid menus here in US, it made us easier to eat at restaurants. I never gave him mac and cheese at home, he would eat it only outside.

But then, I wanted to start making it at home. As most of my friends know, I am very fond of making things from scratch. Somehow I almost always messed up the sauce. Since it is the single most important part of this recipe, the entire dish gets spoiled when the sauce is not good. Finally a tip that I read somewhere on the internet helped me. "You have to add the cheese after switching off the heat". That was such a big help.

The inspiration for vegetable mac and cheese came from none other than Ishaan himself!!. Our latest favorite restaurant is Sweet Tomatoes – it has soups and salad buffet. He loves mac and cheese there. I have watched them make it many times. They make a smooth sauce and add it to macaroni. They mix it all and keep it in a hot pan. I give him some vegetables like peas, corn etc in one plate and mac and cheese in another. He recently started adding peas,corn to mac and cheese before eating!. Wow, my little chef!!. So I started making this version at home and he loved it. First time he picked all zucchini pieces and threw them away, but next time it didn’t bother him so much. V and I love this because of vegetables.

The quantities mentioned below are approximates. I do not measure any ingredients. While serving it to Ishaan, I just add some spoons of butter.

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 cup mild cheddar cheese + about 2 tbl spn for topping
1/2 cup milk
1 tbl spn all purpose flour
1 tea spn butter
1/4 tea spn pepper + 1/4 tea spn red pepper flakes
1/2 tea spn dried basil
1/2 cup tomato
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup zucchini
Olive oil
1/2 cup peas and corn (not in pictures)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt

Method:
Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Keep it aside.
Cook carrots in little water.
In a bowl, combine tomato, zucchini, peas, corn, dried basil, little salt, little olive oil, pepper, red pepper flakes and microwave for 2mins. This can also be done on stove top if you wish.
In a thick bottomed pan, melt butter. Add flour and mix. Let the flour cook, but do not burn it. Very important step.
Now add the milk and let the sauce thicken. Take off the heat. Add cheddar cheese and mix very well till all cheese is melted. If you add the cheese too soon, the sauce will separate, so be very careful. Needs some trial and error to get this right. The sauce has to be very smooth.
Preheat the oven at 350F.
Now in a oven safe dish (lightly apply olive oil to the dish), mix macaroni, carrots, vegetables, sauce. Mix them. Top it off with remaining 2 tbl spn cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven at 350F for about 6-7mins till cheese is melted. (This step can be done on a stove top instead of oven if you do not want to use oven). I mix everything with a spoon as soon as it comes out of oven to get a smooth consistency.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 40mins

Pictorial:

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Quick Zucchini Dosas / Pancakes

quick zucchini dosas

I am bit confused, should I call these dosas or pancakes? Actually I wanted to make pancakes, but ended up making them spicy and more like Indian cousin dosas!. These were infact inspired by zucchini fritters that I saw on TV a while ago, which involved deep frying.

Lately, I have started using zucchini a lot. Ishaan is at a stage where he does not want to taste most of the vegetables. So I end up grating and adding them in many dishes. I am not a great fan of sneaking in vegetables for him because I want him to enjoy them as they are, but at 2 years of age(the dreaded terrible twos!) I am ready to do all mommy tactics to get him eat something healthy without fight!. He did enjoy these dosas a lot, so I was happy.

It takes about 10mins to put together batter for these. They taste really great.

Ingredients:
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 tea spn chilli powder
1/2 tea spn cumin seeds
1 egg white (optional)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
Oil
Salt

Method:
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add enough water to make the batter.
Heat a tava and make small thick dosas. Cook from both sides.
I served them with pineapple paank. They go well with a spicy chutney.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 20mins

Pictorial:

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Spicy Puffed Rice (Kalaylo Chirmuro) with Poha Masala

kalayilo chirmuro

It feels great to get back on internet again. Our laptop crashed couple of weeks back and it took a while to get it fixed.

Puffed rice dishes are very easy to make. When my children were small, I often prepared these dishes for a quick evening tea. There are two types of kalayile – mixed puffed rice that we make. My kids loved this one as it has a sweetish, spicy taste. I add onions for my son and leave them out for my daughter. Eat it as soon as you add flavored coconut to puffed rice, otherwise it becomes soggy. Make sure to make this in a big batch, you cannot stop eating it.

Ingredients:
4 cups puffed rice (chirmuro)
1/2 cup fresh/frozen coconut
1-2 tea spns poha masala
2 tea spns molasses (liquid jaggery)
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
Salt

Method:
Mix poha masala, molasses and salt with coconut.
Add the coconut and onion to puffed rice and lightly toss. Serve immediately. You can serve it on it’s own or with sev.

Serves : 1-2
Preparation time : 5 mins

Pictorial:

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kalayilo chirmuro

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Cheddar Crackers

chaddar crackers

Like any other kid that goes to daycare here, Ishaan loved goldfish crackers from a very young age. Although I was okay if he ate them at daycare, I like to avoid giving them at home. So I wanted to make something similar for him, where I could control the ingredients. One day I was searching for crackers recipe and I came across this and this. I bookmarked the recipe and forgot all about it. Finally yesterday I made them. Instead of all purpose flour, I used wheat flour(chapati atta), so they turned out little dense. For some extra flavor, I added cumin seeds and chilli powder. They tasted great. Next time I will make them a little thin and use finely grated cheese, since some were not very crispy.

Ingredients:
1 cup wheat flour
8 oz mild cheddar cheese
1/2 tea spn cumin seeds(slightly crushed) – optional
4 tbl spn unsalted butter
1/2 tea spn chilli powder – optional
4-5 tbl spn water
Salt

Method:
Mix everything together to make a dough. While adding water, add 1 tbl spn at a time till the dough comes together nicely.
Wrap in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4hrs.
Preheat the oven at 350F.
Roll the dough into 1/8 inch thin sheet. Remember, if you make them too thick, they do not become crispy.  Cut them into required shapes.
Bake for around 18-20 mins till they get a golden color. I checked them after 15mins and then kept them again for couple more minutes. Let them cool to room temperature, serve.

Pictorial:

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