Thursday 27 March 2014

FIRST VEGGIES (For Babies 6months +)

Congratulations Mums and Dads!! Your little angel is half way to one... Yay!!This indeed is a very exciting time for parents (and overwhelming at the same time!), as it is an important milestone for your baby. Till this time your little one has been feeding either on breast milk or formula, and now it’s time for your baby to explore something new i.e. solids or food in simple English. So go Mum, get ready with some special bowls (cups are good)and spoons , oh and don’t forget to have some bibs (long ones)and keep some warm face washers hand. It is going to be outrageously messy! With time the sleepless nights are just going to get a little better, and your little angel will be a lot more effective communicator.
When your baby reaches 6 months the iron store that the baby is born with,(key for baby’s overall development),starts to diminish and needs to be replenished from other sources apart from breast milk or formula. Diet has a serious impact on the baby’s brain, immunity and they need the best food to be able to hearing, tasting, talking and doing all other normal activities well in life.
Here are some important nutrients that your baby will need:
Proteins: Available in meat, cheese, egg, pulses (lentils and beans)and grains
Carbohydrate: wholemeal breads, oats, brown rice and potatoes

Fat: Babies under 2 years need certain amount of fat to support their rapidly growing bodies. It plays an important role in their brain development. Fat is present in meat, cheese, egg, wholemilk, and yoghurt. Animal Food tend to contain saturated fat and is more likely to cause high cholesterol and heart diseases. Vegetables (Avocados) and fish contain unsaturated fats and oil, and they have more kilojules as saturated fat but are good for us.
Iron: The first iron rich food that should be introduced to your baby is iron fortified rice cereals. Red Meat and spinach has the highest iron store.
Calcium: Available in dairy, leafy vegetables, tofu.

Potassium: found in vegetables, fruit , grains. Bananas and rockmelons are high in potassium
Vitamins available in green leafy veggies, fruits, milk , cheese, egg etc. Spinach, cauliflower , lettuce, broccoli, are very high in Vitamin K which is essential for normal blood clotting.

Zinc: Available in brown rice, leafy greens, cucumber, carrots to name a few.

Is you baby ready yet ?
  • Your bay might show the following signs if he/she is ready for more than just milk.
  • Your baby might start to show a keen interest what you and everyone else are putting in their mouth.
  • Your baby must be chewing everything in sight specially hands or toys although that could be signs of teething too
  • They might just start demanding feeds more frequently and might wake up hungry at night.
  • Good head and neck control
  • To be able to sit upright.(with some support)

Getting Ready
When you know its time for your baby to start on solids you might want to get organised a bit. It just makes life a bit easy.
Blender: Although we may call them “solids” the consistency of your baby’s first food needs to be mushy rather runny, more that of a thick shake or smoothies. You may choose to mash food with a fork or may be pass it through a sieve, a blender  or a  hand blender will sure make your life much easier. Your baby is still learning to swallow and she will be taking food using her lips and not tongue. Blending will also help to prevent gagging. A flattish small spoon without sharp edges is recommended. Too big your baby is going to gag, too deep they will not be able to get anything off it!

First Veggies (why root vegetables??)
Root Vegetables are the best first food for your little ones. They are naturally sweet and from my extensive research on google I have found that orange fleshy vegetables like pumpkin, carrot and sweet potatoes are very rich in calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, protein iron and Vitamin C. They are very low in calorie and high in fibre too. These veggies are unlikely to cause allergies in infants and blend to a very smoother consistency. 
Start with carrot, pumpkin, sweet potatoes followed by broccolis, potatoes, parsnips, corns and  green peas.
Don’t rush it. Try one food at a time consistently atleast for 10 times. That way you will know what your baby likes and adverse reactions if any. Your baby’s digestive system is still developing so any harsh food is an absolute “no no”. Once your baby is used to rice cereals mix veggies in them. If you do not want to use blender try grating cooked vegetables. Get creative, mix it up. Try combination of veggies and fruits . Don't forget it is all new experience for your little one. When you put the first mouthful your baby will most likely screw up their face, food will be in and spat back  and they may look at you with an expression on their face that may say something like:“ what do you think you are doing and what was that”!! Stay amused. Stressing is not a solution.. trust me..its all part of the game ! and it 's only going to get better. Feed them before they get too hungry and tired, morning is the best time after they have had their normal milk feed. If they refuse to be fed try again later.
1/2 cup carrot peeled and diced
1/2 cup pumpkin peeled and diced

Water to steam or cook.

1.Steaming your vegetables is the best  as it helps to lock in the nutrients. You may use a vegetable steamer and steam in microwave for about 5-6 mins and then blend to a smooth puree adding some left over water from the steamer.
2. Alternatively, In a saucepan take enough water and add the carrot and pumpkin. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender. Blend them with the left over stock in the saucepan to get a smooth puree.
3.Pressure cooking for atleast 3-4 whistles will do the job as well. You may then blend the vegetables using the left over stock in the pan to a smooth puree.
These  veggies can also be blended using breast milk or formula. Best is to steam them and blend using formula or breastmilk whatever your baby takes.

Other Great Combos:
Pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli
Pumpkin, carrot and apple
Pumpkin, carrot and parsnip.
Green Beans and sweet potatoes
Pumpkin and Potatoes
Carrot and green peas and apricot
Potato, carrot, cauliflower
Avocado and Pumpkin and Sultanas
Broccoli and Potato or Pumpkin
Some Do’s and Dont’s
Do’s : Do give your child meat, fish, cheese, yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fruit juices rice cereals, grains, pulses, legumes
Don’t : give your child salt, sugar,tea, honey, sugary drinks such as store bought juices, sweet and salty biscuits, chocolates. lollies ,nuts  and the like. It is okay to use cows milk in your baby's food however cows milk is also not recommended as a drink until 12 months.
Sugar is not good for your baby’s teeth and they might develope a sweet tooth once they grow up. Salt is harsh on their tiny liver and kidney which is still growing. Adding salt to your babies diet can lead to serious illnesses including high blood pressure and kidney failure. It is important they enjoy the natural flavours of fruits and vegetables. Honey causes serious illness in some babies too called botulism. Hence it is not recommended until the first year.

Ingredients :
1 teaspoon( a knob ) of unsalted butter or olive oil.
1 cup finely diced vegetables (any combination of onion, carrots, celery potatoes, pumpkin, green peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes)
a small stick of cinnamon.(discard before blending)
11/2 cup chicken stock.(depends on consistency)or just water if you prefer.
( I have used pumpkin, carrot and green peas)
In a pan heat butter and add all the veggies and sauté them for 5 mins. Cover with water or stock and bring to boil. Simmer gently for 15-20 mins until the vegetables have cooked through. Check with a fork.
Turn off heat and blend into a smooth puree or fork mash it.
For a more meaty meal add chicken or beef in the soup. You may blend to a smooth texture or else flake it into thin strings with your hands before serving at about (8 months +) for a combination of texture. Remember your baby can chew even with her gums.

As your baby grows and gets used to variety  try a few variation:

Adding pasta or rice to soups adds body. Add them into soup before the chicken stock or water and cook until done
Use your instincts and watch your baby closely. Try different taste and texture depending on what your baby likes. When your baby has good hand control you may even offer lil bread fingers or steamed vegetable fingers to explore. But never ever take your eyes off them while they are eating in order to avoid choking.

BANANA CUSTARD( 7 months +)

1/2 cup cows milk (full cream) ( or formula)
1 small or 1/2 large ripe banana mashed
a few drops of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 tsp custard powder (use only eggless) / or cornflour

In a saucepan prepare custard using milk, custard powder and cinnamon powder (follow packet instruction)
Once custard is ready, cool custard
Mash the banana with some lemon juice and stir into the custard and serve immediately. Remember to check temperature before serving.

Being a first time mum and managing your baby without much help and support of your immediate family ( like myself) is not only hard it can get quite challenging and stressful at certain moments. But if you look at the positive aspect you are the boss. It feels so nice to share all that I have learnt and experienced over the last three years, and thought might be useful and handy to other mums as well. It is fun to do things differently. My message to all mums out there, be kind to yourself and be proud of yourself. Use your own instinct and do whatever makes you and your baby happy. Always remember, it is only you who knows your baby the best. And most of all enjoy your bubs.. they grow up freaking fast!
And now that you have made it till the end of this post take a  deep breath. I am taking mine, Lol. I hope I have been able to cover all those important aspects that you need to know before your baby is ready to start on solids for the first time. It is just handy to have all useful tips and ideas compiled under one roof to make life easy and simple. If you need any clarification regarding anything related to this post or share any thing in particular that might benefit other mums please feel free to leave a comment here or a message on facebook. I hope to add some more  baby and toddler  friendly recipes in the coming weeks.

The idea and inspiration of todays post is adapted from the book :"The Yummy Scrummy In Your Tummy Cookbook" by Sofie Toomey. For more advice on feeding your baby, your babies dietary needs and concerns please talk to your family health nurse or doctor.

Notes:Any excess puree can be frozen in  an airtight containers suitable for freezing baby food. Always allow the food to cool down before freezing and use within 24 hours. You may defrost and reheat in microwave when needed. Always discard any uneaten purees or food and never ever re-offer it to your baby the second time. The saliva mixed with the food gets contaminated with bacteria and your baby can be seriously ill if fed. I have never frozen baby foods and always preferred to make them fresh in small quatity. For more tips on food safety visit this page


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With deep care
EAT as you LIKE


Thursday 13 March 2014


When it comes to cooking for my little ones I am always on the look out for new ideas. Some thing different in terms of taste and texture. Offering variety to your child helps in developing healthy eating habits. So today's recipe is meat balls made with minced chicken and herbs cooked in delicious creamy raisin tomato and yoghurt gravy. Meat as we all know is an excellent source of protein and iron to satisfy your child's hunger and provide essential nutrients for their healthy growth and development. Eggs are another fabulous source of protein but it can be a cause of serious egg allergies in some children. The below recipe contains egg, so please be mindful of your child's dietary needs or issues if any. In addition to meat, fish and egg, veggies and fruits form a very essential part of your babies diet. Bear in mind that if your child is picky and not a greatest fan of veggies you are not alone. Having said this, there are means and ways of adding vegetables into your little ones diet.
Grating or blending veggies into meat balls, soups or sauces to add to pastas is a brilliant way to sneak and hide some extra goodness. Grated zucchini is barely visible! And so is carrot or broccoli. . The only side effect is your child will not learn to like vegetables. It is very important to remember that every kid may have to try a food ten times at least before they learn to accept it. So try to be consistent by offering variety in terms of taste, texture and striking a balance to do a bit of each, blending, grating and offering some veggies as a whole. This is my experience  that I have gathered and learnt over the last 3 years and it gives me soo much joy to be able to share it with you all today.

Okay, so now over to the recipe.

To make 20  medium meatballs you will need:

500 grams chicken minced
1 medium read onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed and finely chopped
1/2 zucchini or carrot grated
1 tablespoon sweet soya sauce
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
some lime juice
seasoning of white pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
2-3 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander or parsley or combination of both.
1/4 cup tasty cheddar or parmesan cheese works great, if you may. ( I did not add cheese this time)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Canola Oil

(For Adults you may spice it up with some chilli and black pepper!)

Step 1: In a bowl mix mince, garlic, onion, grated veggie, egg, breadcrumbs, sweet soya sauce, tomato paste, lime juice and breadcrumbs. Mix everything together and roll them into balls. In order to get perfect meat balls take some warm water in a bowl , wet your palms each time you roll the them. This will prevent the meat balls from sticking.
Once ready refrigerate, covered with a cling film for about 30 mins. 
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook meat balls turning 8-9 mins each side for approximately 20 mins or so or until browned. Transfer to a plate. If you are planning to serve the meat balls on their own here you have them ready.

Allow to cool , check temperature before serving. You may serve with their favourite dip or sauce.
These meat balls are great snacking option and  make excellent finger foods for your little bundle at about 8-9 months. I have pan fried them in this recipe as you can see, baking is great too.. specially for young babies. Simply preheat oven to about 180 degrees and slide in the meat balls nicely arranged on a grease proof baking sheet for about 15-20 mins or until they turn golden.
You do not need to add any extra salt or sugar in the recipe. The Meat balls get enough seasoning from the soya sauce and the tomato paste. The chicken stock used in the gravy  will have enough salt that is needed and the raisins are the natural sweeteners. Recently I have learnt (from a very knowledgeable source) that raisins act as cleansers and are excellent for kids. I have also read that raisins are rich and concentrated source of energy, vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium to name  a few.
To make Korma Curry you will need the following:
1-2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil/or any other cooking oil that you prefer
1 medium red onion grated.
1 teaspoon each of ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon each of coriander and cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup raisins/sultanas made to paste (use chicken stock to make paste)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes /canned.
1/2 cup chicken stock or water.
1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
coriander of parsley finely chopped to garnish
Step 1:In a large non-stick wok or pan heat oil and add the onion. Fry the onions till they change color .
Step 2: Add ginger, garlic paste. sauté for a few minutes   
Step 3: Add turmeric, coriander, and cumin powder. Again sauté for some more time and add the tomatoes. Keep sauting until the tomatoes change colour absorbs moisture.
Step 4: Add the raisin paste that you made. Cook for some more time add chicken stock. Remember the korma gravy is thick and not runny. Bring to boil and as the sauce start to thicken add the meat balls carefully, give it a gently stir. Simmer and cook with a lid on for about 7-8 mins or until the meat balls are cooked. 
Step5 :Remove lid and stir in the youghurt. Sprinkle garam masala powder and the herbs.
Your meat balls are ready to serve. Serve warm with Rice, Pilaf, or cooked Couscous.Couscous is cooked semolina that you can get in supermarkets, cook as per instruction on the packet. 


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With deep care


Wednesday 12 March 2014


Chicken Chaap is a mughlai inspired chicken dish where juiciest part of the chicken on bones (specially the legs and thighs) are marinated then charred and finally slow cooked in the aromatic spicy gravy. Poppy seed and Sattu (bengal gram flour, added by some restaurant) are one of many essential ingredients for Chicken Chaap. Poppy seed adds a beautiful silky texture to the dish and either sattu/or chana dal paste plays an important role in absorbing the excess moisture,  binding all the spices together, by helping the spices  to cling to the meat. The gravy for chicken chaap is never very thick, but light and thin formed from the fat released from the ghee (clarified butter) and the meat. Since I do not get good quality sattu here in Adelaide I have used a close substitute chana dal (split chick pea) made to paste. This dish can vary from mild to rich and spicy. This semi dry gravy is best enjoyed with Biriyani ( a flavourful dish of rice and meat) or any other indian bread variety such as nan, romali or tandoori roti, laccha paratha with some onion cucumber salad on the side to make it a complete meal. My first introduction to Mughlai cuisine was at Bedouin on nandy street around gariahat.Their speciality was the succulent chicken or egg-chicken roll, chaap and biriyani and if you are one of many to dine in the restaurant ,having made a reasonable order their complementary "jaljeera" drink was quite a hit! In no time this restaurant was soo popular that they opened up a few franchises around the area .

Rahmania, Sabir, Amenia was also good during those days.Then finally Shiraz, the legendary mughlai food joint opened it's doors. My first taste of authentic chicken chaap, a delectable moist chicken biriyani still lingers onto my taste buds! Yes, it was way back in early 2000 and during our courtship days that I had my first taste of  mughlai cuisine at The Shiraz Golden Restaurant in park circus, Kolkata. Courtesy my one and only..I know u guessed it, right!!:D
Both Bedouin and Shiraz were excellent in terms of their food quality. Even now when we visit our home town this authentic food joint is always on the cards for their exclusive mughlai dishes. Last time when we were in Kolkata we noticed that the old Shiraz Golden Restaurant has moved down across the road and a brand new Dawaat-e -Shiraz has come up on the ground floor of the Tulip Inn Hotel serving more or less the same quality food but just because it is more of a polished version of the old Shiraz, prices are a bit too high in my opinion. But the staff are no doubt very professional and helpful (unlike old shiraz) and thank fully there is a valet parking for the patrons which otherwise would have been a nightmare! Arsaalan in park circus (7 point crossing)  is another exclusive joint if you are after some mouth watering Awadhi or Mughlai cuisine. In addition to their Biriyani, chaap and rezala our personal favourite was Arsalan's special kebab wrapped with cheese and egg..they are truly to die for!


You must be thinking that the process of making chicken chaap at home  is quite a complicated one. Trust me, it is not. And neither you need any grand ingredients to create the authentic taste. The recipe is a quick fix one, you just need to get a bit organised first, score and marinate the chicken which is essential and most of all pocket friendly ingredients have been used in this recipe.  I personally find cooking chaap much more easier and less time taking  as compared to any other chicken dishes that needs more elaborate cooking. I usually marinate all ingredients well in advance, sauté and then slow cook on simmer for the melt in mouth result. As I am always pressed for time this recipe works very well for me and yet delivers authentic restaurant style flavours
To make Chicken Chaap all you will need :
4 chicken marylands (leg and thigh portion) or 1 whole chicken cut into 4 quarters.
1 cup natural thick yoghurt ( I used greek style). If you are using normal curd or natural yoghurt drain out the excess water by placing it in a cheese cloth or a sieve for couple of hours.) In that case approx. 11/3 cup of normal curd will yield around 1 cup or little more of hung curd - making sure the curd has still some moisture and not too dry.
2-3 cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 green cardamom pods
11/2 tablespoon coriander powder ( u may use freshly ground)
2-3 tablespoon of besan or gram flour, dry roasted 
1 tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
1/2 tablespoon Turmeric powder
2 tablespoon poppy seed(soaked in water and then made into paste) -( non-negotiable ingredient.)
1/4 teaspoon of mace powder
1/3 teaspoon of nutmeg powder
1 large onion roughly chopped
10-12 fresh garlic cloves or 2 tablespoon garlic paste
3/4 tablespoon ginger paste
little drops of keora water (2-3 tiny drops)
Ghee or clarified butter 2 tablespoon
White oil for cooking 2 tablespoon
11/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon oil for coating on the chicken
extra salt for seasoning
1 tablespoon of ground spices
(Roast 2-3 black peppercorns, 7-8 cardamom pods, , 5-6 cinnamon stick, 7-8 cloves - dry roast them and then grind them in a food processor or a mortal and pestle and store in an airtight container ) 
A good size thick bottomed skillet
kitchen tongs and spatula

Step 1 : Rinse your chicken pieces. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Score on the skin with a sharp knife. Now coat your chicken with 1 tablespoon oil and salt all over and every nook and corner of the bird. Cover and let it rest.
STEP 2: In a blender or food processor add chopped onion, garlic, ginger paste, mace powder, nutmeg, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, ground masala, roasted besan, poppy seed  and by adding little bit of  yoghurt at a time blend to a  smooth paste.
Step 3 : Pour the spice mixture onto the chicken and coat well along with very little drops of keora water . Cover with a cling film and set aside . Overnight is best or atleast 5-6 hours.
Step 4: In a thick bottom skillet heat 2 tablespoon ghee and 2 tablespoon cooking oil. You may choose to use ghee only and not use any oil at all. In that case add 3-4 tbsp ghee. The skillet should have enough room for 4 large legs of chicken.
Step 5 :Now add the whole garam masalas such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

Step 6: Shake off the excess marinade and lay the chicken pcs side by side. The flame should be medium-high. Once they start to change color (little golden brown) on one side you may flip it using a kitchen tong to brown the other side as well. Do not over cook it.. cook until they look a bit charred and golden brown on both sides. 
Step 7:Once the chicken pieces look a little golden make a well in between and pour in the remaining marinade. Keep sautéing with a spatula to fry the marinade mixture . It will soon change colour and release a lot of oil. Add the poppy seed or paste along with the sattu or chana dal paste. Keep turning the chicken atleast a couple of times. Use a spoon to smear the chicken pieces with the marinade mixture that is already cooking. This will keep the chicken moist and prevent from drying out. Once the spices start to separate completely from the oil, making sure that the chicken pieces are nicely smeared in the gravy, simmer and cover. Before that check seasoning and add more salt to taste. Cook for some more time. Let's say around 10 mins more.. Turn off heat and allow to rest.
Step 8: The gravy should be semi dry with the spices almost clinging onto the chicken pieces, leaving the excess fat floating in the skillet.  You may garnish with some ghee and  another tiny drop of keora water to finish it off.  Your Chaap is ready to be served with your favourite rice dish or bread.
This recipe will yield 4 generous servings. The gravy will be very mild in terms of spiciness. If you want more spicy and rich gravy you may adjust the amount of chilli and spices according to your taste. Ghee or clarified butter can be used solely to cook the dish. However I prefer to mix some oil to keep the calorie count low. I hope you enjoy some Chaap with your favourite bread or rice.
Have a blessed day!

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With deep care

EAT as you LIKE.

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