Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Missi Roti

Missi Roti
Whether you are bored of the regular rotis or just want to substitute come of the carbohydrates in it with protein, then missi rotis are for you. It is such a delicious roti, not complicated to make and on a day of low energy or time, you could eat it with pickle and yogurt. I have pretty much fllowed Tarla Dalal’s recipe and did not have much need to change a lot. Traditionally it is fried with lots of ghee and I leave it to you whether you want to use ghee or oil, little or more. This is great for kids as well as it has carbs, protein and some greens. Here is the recipe...

1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
1 generous handful of fenugreek leaves/coriander leaves, chopped
2 generous pinches of ajwain
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
Warm water
1 teaspoon finely chopped green chillies (optional)
Butter/ghee to fry the rotis

Mix all ingredients except the butter/ghee together, adding just required water to make semi stiff dough. Rest the dough, covered, for 30 minutes

Divide the dough into lemon sized balls and roll to thin rotis using flour to dust

Cook both sides on hot tava, just like regular roti adding generous amount of ghee/butter. Poke it with th corner of the ladle so all the ghee gets in (yum!)

Serve with pickle and yogurt!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Roasted Pepper Pasta

Roasted Pepper Pasta
I love making homemade sauce especially for the pasta. The readymade ones from the jar are so loaded with oil they trigger acidic reflux which is quite annoying. Also, I think pasta sauces are a great way of adding vegetables to our diet. I did use some Chinese ingredients like soya sauce and have even added toasted sesame seeds sometimes and have enjoyed the result. Oh well, it is a bit late in the evening and I had a long day so not more stories, here you go with the recipe.

1 large red pepper, cut into chunks
1 large yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 large green pepper
5-6 babycorn
1 large tomato, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
Salt to taste
Dried organo and basil
Mozzarella cheese, grated to cover the pasta
Olive oil
1 teaspoon soya sauce
Penne pasta for 3 servings

Put the yellow pepper, red pepper, onion and tomato in an oven proof dish and drizzle some oil. I used garlic infused olive oil. Roast at 200degC for about 20 minutes. By now the veggies will be soft

 Cool and grind this to a paste

Heat some oil in a sauce pan and add the green pepper and baby corn and sauté until they look cooked but still crunchy

Add the ground sauce and bring to boil and add required oregano, basil, salt and soy sauce and simmer for couple of minutes. Add some water if needed

Add cooked pasta and simmer for couple of minutes. Pour into an oven proof dish and sprinkle cheese on top

Bake at 180degc for 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts and browns

Serve hot

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Vegetable Noodles

Vegetable Noodles
If you know a child that does not like noodles, I would love to hear from them. Well, they certainly popular in my family, both the big boy and the small boy love it. To me, I think the best noodles are the ones we can get in road side shops in Chennai. I remember once I went to a sports meet while in college (oh, don’t get me wrong, I am not atheletic at all but I had good fun) and they had roadside shops sort of arrangement. It was quite inexpensive but very tasty. I am guessing it is the ajinomoto (mono sodium glutamate) that gives it so much flavour. However, I do not use it in my kitchen so I had to resort to other ingredients to bring flavour. Anyway, as I said earlier there will be fewer and fewer time left for me to write stories and will dive straight into the recipe. Where appropriate, I will however try to give information on nutrition and health benefits of key ingredients.

1 pack noodles of your choice, cooked as per instructions on package
2-3 cups of finely chopped vegetables (I added green beans, green pepper, red pepper and carrots)
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 generous teaspoon ginger garlic paste
3 tablespoon tomato ketchup or sauce (I used Maggi hot and sweet sauce)
1-2 tablespoon soya sauce
½ teaspoon vinegar
Salt to taste
Oil, preferably toasted sesame seed oil or stir fry oil

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. I used a mixture of sunflower oil and toasted sesame oil as the latter smokes very quickly. Add the onions and sauté for a minute

Add the rest of the vegetables and ginger garlic paste

Saute until they are just about cooked but still have a bite. Now, this may depend on your taste. Typically, Chinese cooking is done at high flame for a short time and this leaves the veggies crunchy. If you like them softer, then cook longer
Add all the sauce and vinegar and sauté for a couple of minutes

Add the cooked noodles; I added a few drops of water just so that it does not dry out quickly. Mix well and serve

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Baby Weaning

Baby Weaning recipes
This will be my running log of recipes to give a baby. I intend to update this often so it develops as my baby grows. I intend to do this so it can help other mothers/fathers start the weaning process and develop their baby’s eating habit.

Knowing when the child is ready – I am all for baby led weaning, it is easy on you and the child. No matter how much others insist, resist temptation to give solid food before the baby is ready. At one stage your baby will literally swallow your plate with their eyes. Try to keep them next to you when you eat because when they are ready, they will grab your plate, so you will know.

How to prepare – ofcourse, clean hands and dishes. In terms of equipments, I need pressure cooker. I use it everyday and it is great to ahceive the right consistency they can eat. If you do not have a pressure cooker, I suggest you buy a small one as it will be handy for the next year or two atleast. Except green beans and peas, I have never pureed any food for my babies. I pressure cook and mash them with a spoon. This helps them appreciate texture and ofcourse, saves time for you too. As long as it is well cooked and mashed, go for it. Re-heat food, if needed only once and discard any left over. Do not keep food outside for longer than two hours. Try to discard any left over from a feed within 30 minutes or so. Warmer the weather, faster the bugs grow, so watch out.

How often – start with one feed a day. Pick a time your baby is not fussy and not particularly hungry, say about 30 minutes after milk feed. You could eat in front of her so she gets all excited and becomes willing to try the food. Choose a good spoon (appropriate for the age) or feed with your hand. At first, she may spit it out and will be unsure what to do with it. It may even take a week or so for the tongue thrust reflex to go away and pushing the food down properly. Take it easy. Once she learns the vital skill, increase the meals to suit your meals pattern. Try to give breakfast even though you may not have any yourself as it is a very important meal for a child.

Should I give water – slowly introduce water (cooled boiled water) in sippy cups or something other than a bottle. This will help her learn to use cups as well as drink an important liquid. Try to offer water after a meal.
Allergies – now this is something you have to keep a close eye on but do not let this bother the weaning process. If you are very worried about some ingredients, then take advise from your doctor. In general, it is the protein rich food that you need to worry about as these are notorious allergens. This includes eggs, nuts and milk (not an exhaustive list). Having said that, some may be allergic to citrus family of fruits, eggplants etc but these are usually minor form of allergies and not life threatening. When you introduce new food, wait for four days to see if there are any reactions to that food. This may include fussy baby, hives or rashes on skin, very sore bottom or loose stools etc.

Can I give spices – I would not give anything hot yet, like pepper or chilly. I still give rasam, which is a runny concoction of spices really but just a few drops and do not make it particularly hot. As for other spices like cumin, coriander etc., go for it after you have introduce the first few foods outlined below.

Can I add sugar or salt – Health visitors and doctors would say no. I add a pinch of salt but do not add sugar. The reason I add salt is because I want the baby to get used to savory and appreciate it. I read that babies are naturally born with more taste buds for sweets so will more readily accept them. Whereas savory is only second preference for them and for this reason and also because I do not believe it not adding any salt now and dumping packets of crisps on them after they turn one a bit pointless. So, use your discretion.

Should I reduce milk – milk is the primary source of nourishment until the age of one so do not reduce the number of feeds. Fit baby’s meals along with yours so you all get into a good sustainable routine

What if she/he refuses – try not to jump to conclusions saying baby does not like some food. It takes about 15 times of tasting to like or dislike a food. They may simply not be a in a mood for it that particular day. Do not force them, jus try again later. If your baby happily eats but suddenly stops, then it may be sign of an imminent infection, usually ear. If your baby does not eat for days, don’t panic, they will not be famished as long as they drink their milk.

Can I add fat – I usually use ghee, drops and no more. I also use sunflower oil and few weeks later I will use groundnut oil as well.

What else - Do not be tempted to thrust your taste on them. Here is what I mean by that – it is probably you that prefers spoons of sugar on bread or idli etc., do not presume your baby will also like it and offer the same; it is probably you who dislikes wholewheat pasta, so do not make your child also eat white flour pasta. Remember, you are trying to help your baby explore food and teach her to build a healthy attitude towards food. Personally, I am a bit more concerned about my girl’s attitude towards food than I was with my son. They could get into all these crazy things like anorexia, bulimia etc. later in life. Not that boys do not get into these but the girl would carry the progeny and that is not easy. I know, you are thinking they are just a baby but we have a responsibility to lay good foundations and what better place to start than looking after oneself. Show them to eat healthy; make vegetables and fruits a huge part of their meal. It may look like you are overdoing it and depriving them of ‘fun’ but, it is for life. They will learn to decide when they want to indulge and when not to if you show them the right way from start. Stay clear of chocolates, sweets, crisps etc. until about 18 months. Some studies have shown that when introduced to chocolates after 18 months, they are more likely to have control over how much they indulge. By age one, your child should be in a position to eat what you cook as family meal so try to get her used to such food from the start

Typical first food (about 5 months when baby decides she is ready)
  1. Well mashed rice. Rice is typically safe to their tummy and is very unlikely to be an allergen. Try to pressure cook the rice They will eat about a spoon at the most, so a tablespoon of rice cooked in about four tablespoon of water would be good. However, I usually cook it along with the rice I make for us. Try to take the cooked rice soon after all the pressure releases as this makes it easier to mash. Mash this rice well with clean hand or spoon. Add a drop of ghee and feed. If you find it too thick, add boiled water. I try not to add milk as this will not really help them explore taste and flavour and restrict to milk only.
  2. Dal – again, pressure cook about a spoon of dal in double the water. I have noticed that dal and rice do not cook that well if the quantity is very less. What I normally do is keep aside some of the rice and dal that I make for us. This way, she would start growing to eat what we eat and that is much less hassle when they grow up. I usually use toor dal (pigeon peas) but also use mung dal every now and then. The latter is said to be easier on their tummy and less gassy. Mash the dal, add pinch of salt and feed. Some start with just the dal water and then progress to dal, I started with dal though.
  3. Dal rice – mix the well cooked dal and rice together with pinch of salt and little ghee. Alternately you could cook the dal and the rice together in the pressure cooker and mash them well.
  4. Oats porridge – grind oats to powder in a food processor. I use normal oats and not quick cooking as it is less processed. Heat about ¾ cup of water and add a spoonful of the ground oats. Keep stirring and cook until done. Add pinch of salt. You may add milk if you want to but I avoid adding milk to everything so baby can explore different tastes an flavours
  5. Ragi porridge – you can buy sprouted ragi flour or make it at home. Heat a cup of water, add spoonful of ragi flour and keep stirring. When done, it will appears shiny. Add pinch of salt or milk
  6. Banana – it is a wonderful first food. Pick a ripe one (with brown spots possibly), wash and peel. Mash it with your fingers and feed. If your baby has a cold, try to avoid banana in the night.
  7. Apple – peel and core apple. Steam or boil until tender and mash with spoon and just with your finger and feed
  8. Carrots – wash, peel and cut into circles. Pressure cook, mash, add pinch of salt and serve
  9. Sweet potato – wash, peel and cut into chunks. Pressure cook or steam until well done. Mash and add pinch of salt
  10. Potato – wash, steam or pressure cook and peel. Heat some ghee and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add turmeric powder and mashed potato. Add water and boil. I give it like a thick soup. I tried to make the preparation similar to how I would make for the rest of us, except ofcourse I will not mash it so much for us. Alternately, just mash boiled potato, add salt and serve
  11. Cauliflower – overcooking this veggie and all others belonging to its family (brussel sprouts, broccoli etc.) will make it absolutely unpalatable. I steam it for 15 minutes and then temper some mustard seeds, asafoeftida, turmeric powder and sauté the cauliflower for 5-10 minutes with little salt. Try to avoid as much of the stalk as possible. I then take small pieces, mash it by hand and feed. If your baby has gastric problems or is usually uncomfortable with gas, delay introduction of this until say 9-10 months. Use same procedure for broccoli
  12. Pumpkin/squash – whether it is pumpkin or squash like butternut, peel, cube and pressure cook or steam until very tender. Mash with fork or hand and feed
  13. Courgette/zucchini – I would wash and peel the courgette to start with. Then cube them and steam until tender. Mash with fork, season with salt and serve
  14. Kichdi – this is probably the first taste of proper meal for your baby. This is very nutritious and simple for you to make. Take couple of tablespoons each of mung dal and rice, rinse in water. Heat little ghee and add a few cumin seeds, couple of black peppercorns and if desired, a clove. Add turmeric powder and add the rice and dal when cumin seeds are golden and sauté for couple of minutes. Add about a cup of water and pressure cook for three whistles. Take out the peppercorns, cloves, add salt if desired and feed once cooled. You can add grated carrots or chopped tomato or grated squash while sautéing and cook it along.
  15. Idli/Dosa - make regular idlis, mash them with your hand. You could mix them with yogurt and serve. Alternately, you could make a sambar of some sort (so they get used to what you eat). I mix a spoon of cooked mung dal with some pureed tomatoes that have been cooked in little oil until it all comes together and tempered with mustard seeds. I also add cooked mashed vegetables like carrot or sweet potato to this. For dosa, I make them into small thick ones so they can hold with their hand and learn to eat on their own. To feed them, you can take small pieces, mash it in your fingers and feed.
  16. Pear and oats drop scones – you can call these scones or if you are too technical, call it mini pancake. I made this recipe to help my little girl have pear. Wash, peel and chop the pear into cubes and boil in little water until tender (if your baby is old enough to have the pear without cooking it, you can skip this step or grate it instead). Mash this and add 2 tablespoon ground oats and 2 tablespoon all purpose flour. You could add spices like cinnamon or cardamom if needed. Make this int a thick batter that would drop from a spoon. Drop spoonfuls on a non stick pan on medium heat and drizzle some ghee/butter. Cook both sides until done. Cool and serve. Makes a great finger food and filling snack or breakfast. 
  17. Apple Carrot Halwa – Wash, peel and grate both apple and carrot. Saute them in little ghee and add just enough water to allow them to cook. You could use a mixture of milk and water if you have introduced milk already. Note that the acids in apple with curdle the milk but that is ok. Mash well, add more ghee if needed and serve
  18. Courgette – grate courgette finely. Heat little bit of ghee, add few mustard seeds and once it splutters, add the courgette and pinch of salt. Saute until soft. Serve
  19. Couscous – I find it a very handy ingredient. I buy whole wheat couscous and it helps me offer varieties at meal time and not just make rice for every meal. I usually cook as per package instructions but tend to leave it longer in boiling water as I want it rather soft and not fluffy
  20. Pasta – I usually buy star shaped pasta that are quite small. They are surprisingly expensive but at this early stage of weaning, I do prefer to stick to small size pasta. Alternately, you can cook the regular pasta and cut them into smaller pieces. Ofcourse, I do cook them until very soft
  21. Veggie couscous – cook couscous as mentioned before. Chose the vegetable you would like to add and cook it as mentioned earlier. Heat little ghee, add cumin seeds and once it just begins to brown, add turmeric powder, the vegetables and couscous. Season and serve. As you progress with weaning, you could just grate veggies like carrot, sweet potato etc. and sauté them in ghee along with cumin seeds or even mustard seeds
  22. Onion tomato pasta – heat little ghee or oil and add chopped onions and couple of minutes later, add chopped tomato. I use half an onion and tomato for one baby portion. After it is well cooked, cool and grind to fine paste. Add this to cooked pasta, season. You could add herbs like basil, oregano etc. I also add turmeric powder while the onions are cooking.
  23. Pumpkin or squash pasta – sauté some onion in little oil or ghee and add few cubes of pumpkin. Add enough water to cook both. Once soft, cool and grind to paste. Add this to the cooked pasta, simmer, season and serve. Again, you could add herbs if desired
  24. Garlic Rasam – I normally keep rasam powder handy and mine usually contains black pepper and not much red chillies. Boil about three cloves of garlic, crushed in some water until it smells quite garlicky. Add tamarind paste, little bit of rasam powder, turmeric powder and asafoetida and salt. Allow to just come to a boil. You can temper some mustard seeds in some ghee and add after taking off the flame
  25. raspberries – wash well and chop into small pieces. I mix it with yogurt and serve. Alternately, you could blend it, strain and serve the puree.
  26. Blueberries – wash and just pop them between the fingers to get the pulp out. Discard the skin and feed the pulp. Alternately, make a puree and strain it.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Paneer Pulav

Paneer Pulav
Time and again I keep proving to myself that unless one puts their heart and soul into cooking, the dishes do not come even reasonably good. That does not mean you have to sweat yourself in the kitchen but just that if either your mind or your body is not there fully, then I find myself binning more food than we ate. Last couple of weeks have been very hard as my husband was down with quite a bad chest infection and I had limited help and it was all too overwhelming. Last week and now seems to be my turn to be ill. When you have two young children and live away from family, resting while ill is luxury really. In order to keep myself going I tried to make/bake new dishes but it just did not work. I kept saying to myself it is okay, I will eventually bounce back. Anyway, that's enough rant for tonight, here is a very simple but tasty rice recipe...

1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
About 100g of paneer, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup rice soaked and cooked so grains are fluffy
Salt to taste
Cooking oil and little butter/ghee
Whole spices – about 4 cloves, 1 piece cinnamon, 2-3 bay leaves, 2 star anise, 3-4 cardamom pods
Finely chopped coriander leaves for garnishing

Heat some oil and add the whole spices and allow them to puff up

Add the cumin seeds and once it turns golden brown, add the onions and fry until it turns soft

Add the vegetables and cook until done

Add salt, paneer and rice. You could fry the paneer to make them more chewy but I usually avoid that extra fat and effort

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with a spicy side dish or just raita

Friday, 4 January 2013

Soya Sooji Dosa

Soya Sooji Dosa
A jar of soya flour is lying in my counter as I have been forgetting to add it to the chapatti dough I normally prepare. I thought I should make an effort to use them and wondered if they will be a good ingredient in a rava dosa like dish. That is how, this recipe was put together. This can make a quick breakfast or a light and quick dinner. I chose to add methi because I like its flavours. You will see I rant less and less these days before getting into the recipe purely because of lack of time and sometimes energy but I will hopefully keep the recipes coming. Here is the recipe...
¼ cup soya flour
½ cup sooji
¼ cup rice flour
Handful of methi leaves/coriander or any other greens
Salt to taste
2 green chillies, finely chopped

Bring all ingredients together and add water to make a runny batter

Pour a ladleful on hot tava and add some oil

Once the lower side turns golden, flip side and briefly cook second side

Serve with spicy and tangy chutney

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Almond Poppy Seed Drink

Almond Poppy Seed drink
Personally, I do not attach much importance to new year. I fell time is a continuum and for our convenience we divided it into the way we follow today. It seems a bit philosophical, but that’s how I feel about it. Having said that, I am aware that many attach more importance to new year, especially the first day so I thought I will post a recipe on this day. I wanted to post a recipe I learned from my grandmother as I thought it would be a nice way to preserve it while we move forward in time. I did make some modifications to the recipe to make it suitable for us. This is the drink my grandmother would make when we have mouth ulcers. It is one of those recipes that serves as medicines for an otherwise annoying problem. It is quite tasty so you can have it once a week even if you do not have mouth ulcer. Poppy seeds are obtained from the opium plant but do not have the bad effects of the drug itself. On the other hand, it is said to help in nervous disorders and acts as pain killer. It also has essential fatty acids and I am guessing it is for these reasons that it gets used in this recipe. Here is the recipe...

10-12 almonds, soaked and skinned
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, soaked in hot water for about an hour
1 generous pinch of saffron
2 glasses of milk
Sugar to taste

Grind together the almonds, saffron and poppy seeds and once finely ground, add the milk. You could steep the saffron in some hot water/milk to extract the flavour better

Add the milk and required sugar.