Baby/Kid friendly

Vermicelli – Vegetable Upma

vermicelli-vegetable upma

During my childhood, aayi was always there for us when we returned home from school. She had a set of dishes that she made for breakfast and another set of dishes that were evening snacks. My brother and I threw a big tantrum if she switched between the two. Vermicelli dishes like upma, idli were mainly prepared for evening snacks. We demanded different snacks every evening.

Now for Ishaan, I try to make something fresh for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I don’t make anything for the evening snacks. I keep breakfast very simple and sometimes even make these simple dishes for lunch. One such dish that I make for breakfast and lunch is this upma. I have tried different variations of these, but he seems to like this version the best.

1 and 1/2 cups vermicelli
1/4 cup carrots
1/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup green bellpepper(capsicum)
1 and 1/2 water
1/2 tea spn garam masala
1/2 tea spn sugar
1/2 tea spn mustard seeds
1/2 tea spn urad dal
3-4 green chillies
4-5 curry leaves
A pinch asafoetida
1 tbl spn fresh/frozen coconut (optional)

Heat oil/ghee and fry vermicelli till it turns brownish. Take it out on a plate, keep aside.
Heat a little more oil, add mustard seeds, when they start popping, add urad dal, green chillies, curry leaves. Add the vegetables and fry for few minutes. Add little water (a couple of table spoons), cover and cook till all water is absorbed. (I do this so that vegetables soften a bit, they get completely cooked with vermicelli later).
Add garam masala, vermicelli, salt, sugar, fry for few minutes. Add remaining water, cover and let it cook completely. Garnish with coconut(if using). Serve hot.

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 30mins


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Fried Salmon With Green Masala

fried salmon with green masala

This is another of those salmon experiments we liked. Recently we started buying Salmon from Costco. It is quite cheaper there compared to Whole Foods (where we do all our grocery shopping). I buy a big piece, cut into smaller pieces and freeze them into individual bags. Some days I just make this dish and a salad for dinner.

Aayi prepares this green fish using Mackerel (bangda) or king fish (Ishwan/Visonu/Surmai) or some other fish available in India. I add a little bit of mint if I have it on hand. This is Ishaan’s favorite fish dish.

1 lb salmon
6-7 strands of coriander leaves
7-8 leaves of mint (optional)
2 green chillies
1 tea spn chopped ginger
1 tea spn chopped garlic
2 tbl spns lemon juice
2 tbl spn rice flour
1 tbl spn sooji

Cut Salmon in 2 x 2 inch pieces.  Make a smooth paste of coriander leaves(you can also include a handful of mint leaves), green chillies, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, salt. Apply the paste to fish pieces and leave it refrigerator for few hours.
Heat a tava and spread some oil. On a plate, mix rice flour and sooji. Roll the fish pieces in rice flour-sooji mixture. Shallow fry on hot tava till the fish is cooked through.
Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Serves: 2-3
Preparation time : 20mins


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Spicy Salmon Kababs

spicy salmon kabab

I have been trying to include more fish and chicken in our diet. It took a while for us to get used to the smelly fish – salmon. Since this is one of the healthiest fishes available in the market here, I try to make something with it atleast once a week. Recently I tried 2 types of kababs with them. I think they looked kinda cool. So Ishaan was ready to try these. The pieces get marinated very well as they are cut into small pieces.

1 lb salmon cut into 2×2 inch pieces
1 tbl spn chopped coriander leaves
Lemon wedges

Marinade : Make a smooth paste of following
1/2 cup thick yogurt
1 tea spn ginger
1 tea spn garlic
1 tea spn chilli powder
A pinch turmeric
1/2 tea spn coriander powder
1/2 tea spn cumin powder
1/2 tea spn amchoor powder

Apply the marinade to salmon pieces. Add the coriander leaves. Leave it aside for atleast 2hrs.
Arrange the pieces on skewers. Grill them till done. I use my cast iron grill pan for grilling.
Serve hot with lemon. Serve it as a starter or as a main dish with some rice and a simple dal.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 30mins


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Baked Sweet Potatoes

baked sweet potatoes

I was thinking about making some sweet potato fries for a long time now. We first tasted them in a restaurant few months ago. We all loved them. When I started making them, instead of deep frying, I baked them. They came out really great. I topped them with some chaat masala for some extra taste. Ishaan loved these :).

1 big sweet potato (about 3 cups cut into thin long pieces)
1/2 tea spn chilli powder
1/4 tea spn chaat masala
Olive oil

Heat water in a big pot. Add a little salt. When water starts boiling, add sweet potatoes. Cook for 4-5mins till the sweet potatoes are sightly cooked(but not completely done). Discard all the water.
Now line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Add chilli powder and little more oil. Mix well. Spread the sweet potatoes in a thin layer. Spread a little olive oil on them.
Preheat the oven at 450F for 10 mins.
Bake the sweet potatoes for aout 15mins till they are crispy.
Sprinkle a little chaat masala on top. Serve immediately.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 15 mins


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Apple Sauce (Without Sugar)

apple sauce

I have been reading/hearing a lot about apple sauce for last two years – especially after Ishaan came into our lives. Before that, I had just seen this in grocery stores and never thought of trying it out. Last week, our friends brought a dozen apples for us. Since I am quite lazy to cut them and eat every day, I thought of making something with them. The first thing that came to my mind was apple sauce. I made the no sugar version. I also added couple of spices. It tasted heavenly. Following is the method I followed.

Procedure :
I used red delicious apples which were quite sweet. So I did not add any sugar. I used 8 apples for this and it yielded between 3 to 4 cups of apple sauce.
Wash, peel and core the apples. Cut them roughly into small pieces.
Take the pieces in a large pan, add about 2 cups of water. (I will just use 1 cup of water next time). Add a 3″ cinnamon stick and 2 whole green cardamoms. Cover the lid and let it cook till the apples become soft. At this point, I removed the lid and turned up the heat to let the excess water evaporate.
When the mixture look quite dry, pick up and discard the cinnamon, cardamoms. Switch off the heat. With a potato masher, mash the apples. I did not make a smooth paste because I thought some small pieces of cooked apples in the sauce would be good twist to it.
Let it cool to room temperature and then store in air tight containers. You can also put it in jars and seal them using the method provided here.


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Spaghetti In Vegetable Sauce

spaghetti in vegetable sauce

These days my cooking has been limited to very basic and easy dishes. As any moms with a year old toddler would agree with me, I hardly have any free time on hands. I try my best to make fresh lunch and dinner every day. Most of the dishes on the menu are decided based on what Ishaan likes to eat. The hardest part for me so far has been deciding his lunch. It has to be fresh, healthy and also something he can eat by himself. Most of the days I end up making some pasta or noodles dish. I try to sneak in as many vegetables as possible. This is one such dish which he really loves. This is actually one of my favorite lunchbox item too.

1/2 pack spaghetti (I normally use wheat spaghetti)
2 tomatoes
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup red bellpepper
Olive oil/butter
Black pepper (according to taste)

Cook spaghetti in salted water according to package instructions.
Blanch the tomatoes in hot water for few minutes. I just add the tomatoes to the pot in which I cook spaghetti for a few minutes. Then take out the tomatoes.
Heat oil or butter and add onions, carrots, red bellpepper. Cook on a medium heat till the vegetables are soft. With a spoon, take out half the amount of this vegetable mix and grind it with tomatoes to a smooth paste.
Add the paste and spaghetti to remaining vegetable mix. Add salt and black pepper. Cook for a min and serve hot.

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 30mins


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Vegetable Pasta

vegetable pasta

Lately I have been getting lot of emails/comments requesting me to post pasta recipes. My son is 11 months old now and likes to eat only the things that he can pick up from his fingers. At his daycare, they encourage him to eat by himself. Even though they provide food, I pack his lunch. I usually send pastas loaded with vegetables or parathas.

I have used different pastas in this recipe. I have tried egg noodles, small penne pasta, farfelle, macaroni etc. I usually buy whole wheat pasta. I cook the pasta till it is soft, so that he can eat it easily. I use different vegetables to make it taste different.

I used to buy marinara sauce earlier. Then I asked the expert. And as usual, he did not disappoint. Pelicano gave me a very easy recipe for marinara sauce and I have stopped buying the sauce ever since. Never knew making this sauce was so easy. I usually make the sauce once a week and refrigerate it, since I have not attempted canning so far.

Here is how I make the marinara sauce – Bring a pot of water to boil. Add tomatoes in it and leave for couple of minutes. Then take them out of water and peel them. Break the tomatoes with fingers. Now in a pan, heat a little olive oil. Add a clove of garlic and cook it for a minute. Do not burn it. Add the tomatoes, dried basil, pepper, a little sugar (optional, was not in original recipe, I add it sometimes for my son) and salt. Cook till the sauce thickens. Cool to room temperature, then put in a air tight container and refrigerate.

1/2 lb any small cut pasta like farfarelle or penne or egg noodles
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup long strips of vegetables like sweet potato, carrot, capsicum(bellpepper), onion, peas
Butter or Olive oil
1 garlic clove(optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a thick bottomed pan, heat butter or olive oil. Add the vegetables, garlic, stir fry till they are soft. Now add the marinara sauce, mix well.
Add the pasta and mix.
Spread cheese (optional). I usually do not add cheese for my son.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 15mins



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Shallow Fried Sweet Potatoes (Kananga Phodi)

kananga phodi

These days my cooking is inspired by what my little baby eats. There are two vegetables that he totally adores – sweet potato and butternut squash. I try and add these to most of the dishes that I cook. Today I made these simple phodis for him. The sweetness of the sweet potato (or yam) outshines the spiciness of the red chillies.

Read more phodis here – Assorted, mushroom, okra(bhindi)

10 pieces of sweetpotato (or yam) cut into round pieces
1/2 tea spn chilli powder
A pinch asafoetida

Add chilli powder, asafoeida and salt to sweet potato pieces and keep it aside for 30mins.
Heat a tava and spread some oil. Roll the pieces in sooji and shallow fry them on tava. Sprinkle a table spoon of water and cover while cooking.
Serve hot.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 30mins


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Tricolour Chapatis

tricolor chapatis

Though they are nutritious,it often becomes difficult to make the children to eat different vegetables. In one of the T.V. programs I saw an unique way of using carrot, palak and beetroot in making chapatis.The three vegetables carrot, spinach, beetroot, give orange, green and red colour. The children are attracted by the three different colours and they may eat these nutritious chapatis.

Check Nivedita’s version here.

1 and 1/2 cup Wheat flour
1/4 cup Carrot paste
1/4 cup spinach(palak) paste
1/4 cup beetroot paste
1/2 tea spn red chilli powder
1-2 green chillies
1 tea spn cumin powder
1 tea spn garam masala powder (optional)

Take 1/2 cup each of carrot and beetroot pieces.Cook them separately. Grind the palak with green chillies to a smooth paste. Add 1/3 tea spn of cumin powder, 1/3 tea spn of garam masala powder, salt and 1/2 cup wheat flour to this palak paste and make a dough.
Grind cooked carrot. Add red chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, salt and wheat flour to carrot paste and make a dough. Similarly grind cooked beetroot with red chillies. Add cumin powder, garam masala powder, salt and wheat flour to the paste and make a dough.
Make a roll from each dough. Keep them together. Cut a piece from the combined roll. Make a ball(do not mix too much, otherwise the colours won’t be visible). Roll them into chapatis.Fry on hot tawa and serve with tomato sauce.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 40mins


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Sweet Potato Stir Fry (Kananga Talasani)

Sweet potato has become a regular at home these days for us. I initially started buying it to make baby food for Ishaan. Then soon realized his lack of interest in eating it. With very little time on hand, I can just make one-two dishes each day. So I make something all of us (including Ishaan) can eat. If you like sweetish spicy dishes, this is for you. I don’t make it very spicy. I mix this and rice, mash it up very well with a spoon and feed him. He loves it.

(No, don’t worry, I am not turning it into a baby food blog. But since I have a couple of friends who are at the same stage in life as me, struggling to come up with some dishes for their babies, I have decided to post my experiences here).

This is my personal favorite dish too. Sweet potato gives a nice sweet taste to it. Goes really well with plain dal and rice or with rotis. You can also make it with a mixture of normal potatoes and sweet potatoes.

2 cups peeled and cut sweet potatoes
1 tea spn mustard seeds
5-6 curry leaves
A pinch asafoetida
1 tea spn chilli powder

Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they start popping, add curry leaves, asafoetida. Add sweet potatoes, chilli powder (reduce the amount if your chilli powder is too hot), salt. Mix well. Cover and cook on a medium heat.
Serve with rice or chapatis.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 30mins


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