As any parent with young children will know, meal times can be a challenge; fussy eating, bad tempers or noses turned up at the unfamiliar. It can be all too easy to resort to the same safe and boring food. However, children deserve better than unhealthy frozen food or the same bland dinners.
While it would be easy to assume that often spicy Indian recipes might not be an obvious first choice when introducing a toddler to something new, children can surprise you with how adventurous they can really be. Plus, of course, there are some fantastic Indian recipes with fresh and exciting ingredients that your little ones are sure to love.
Sweet Corn Vadai
These delicious fritters are traditional snacks you’ll frequently find sold by street vendors across Hyderabad. Known as vadas or vadais, these deep-fried patties or doughnuts can be made with a wide variety of ingredients, including potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, onions and spinach. With partly ground sweetcorn, rice powder, finely chopped coriander and garlic mixed into a batter and formed into balls, they can then be fried or baked (for a healthier option) making delicious, bite-sized treats that taste great with chutney or ketchup.
Golpapdi is a wheat flour based dessert originating from Gujarat. Both crunchy and sweet it makes a great breakfast and is packed with energy-giving carbohydrates, calcium and iron. Looking a bit like peanut brittle, Golpapdi is made using ghee (clarified butter), wheat flour and powdered jaggery (unrefined sugar) and can have other ingredients, such as desiccated coconut and poppy seeds, added for extra flavour. Golpapdi can be made and stored for a while in an airtight container for future snacking.
Gajar ka Halwa
This exceedingly popular dessert is enjoyed across India by children and adults alike but particularly associated with the province of Punjab. Gajar ka Halwa is made by mixing grated carrots with water, milk, ghee and sugar that are stirred together until the milk has evaporated. You can also add almonds, pistachios or almonds according to taste. This dessert can be enjoyed hot or cold.
There have been recipes for Khichdi dating back to the 16th century and can be made with meat, fish or vegetables. As the combination of rice and lentils can be boiled until very soft, they are perfect for smaller children who are taking their first steps towards eating solids. A good khichdi recipe for children could include cracked wheat, rice, chopped tomato, spinach and cauliflower, which is mixed with heated ghee and spices like cumin and turmeric.
Popular in Southern Indian states such as Karnataka and Kerala, dosa is a crepe or pancake made from blended rice and a paste of fermented black lentils made into a batter. Although it can take a while to prepare the batter, it can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge. Like all pancakes, a dosa is extremely versatile and can be mixed or topped with many different sweet or savoury ingredients. You can also add vegetable puree to change the colour of the batter or form the pancakes into fun shapes.
Once you have introduced your children to the real tastes of India, you might find that they are keen to try more. Some of the top London brasseries offer authentic Indian street food delicacies, healthy Thalis and other delicious meals.