I don’t describe myself as a good cook. I am average. But I can safely say that I am a cooking enthusiast. I enjoy cooking, what I don’t is to decide what to cook! Story of our lives! When V was born and it was time for us to wean him, my worries grew as I had little idea of what I can feed him with.
My mum came to my rescue and she hand-held me into introducing solids to my son. She etched out meals and we had a ball of a time experimenting with my little wonder who gobbled up everything we gave him! The parallel story that ran with our escapades, was that I hoped my son would grow up to proudly declare, “My Mom is the World’s Best Cook!” Years of experimenting and subjecting his father to my khaana, I have not been able to replace his taste for his mom’s cooking. Let’s accept it, I am not even close to it and my poor husband only says politely, “No baby! You are a good cook!” *sigh*
At least he is kind… But really, food is such a preoccupation for women who run the house and have babies to feed, that I am sure it is a cause of worry for many of you. And even though I have an excellent nanny-cum-cook at home, I do most of the menu setting that it often overwhelms me!
I still want to be the best cook for V (until he finds a better one in his wife)… and I have found just the book for it!
If you are like me, here is a delightful cookbook for you – a one-stop shop that decodes Indian cooking and packs SuperMeals for your baby and toddler.
The book brief on Amazon reads as:
Indian SuperMeals is a useful culinary guide for parents looking to ditch the bland baby food to move on to yummy, adventurous baby food. With the sole focus being Indian inspired cuisine, all recipes have been carefully adapted to suit babies and toddlers little taste buds without overwhelming them, producing some absolutely scrumptious meals without the use of salt, sugar or chillies.
Suitable for weaning babies from 7 months onwards, all recipes include detailed, thoroughly researched nutritional information validating why each meal is a ‘SuperMeal’, chock-full with nutritional value for babies and toddlers.
Indian SuperMeals serves two purposes, firstly to take the apprehension out of home-cooking by providing parents with wholesome recipes to steer them through each stage of their baby’s development, from soft lumps to self-feeding and even eating meals with the rest of the family.
Secondly, it serves as a handy guidebook providing parents with vital information about the benefits of ‘SuperSpices’, ‘SuperFoods’ and much more.
- Discover the idea behind ‘SuperMeals’ and why these meals are of value to babies and toddlers;
- Find out exactly what ‘SuperSpices’ are, and how introducing them into a baby’s diet can be beneficial to his or her health;
- Learn about ‘SuperFoods’ and the importance of a balanced diet;
- Suggestions for the best way store meals for convenience;
- Advice on foods to avoid, and other handy feeding tips;
- Information on how to get started including details of a recommended ‘Spice Starter Kit’.
By combining this practical knowledge with some Indian cuisine ‘know-how’, Zainab Jagot Ahmed has created over 60 truly delicious recipes for babies and toddlers. All providing baby with the vitamins and minerals he or she needs for the best start in life.
To understand the book, you need to know the backstory. Zainab Jagot Ahmed is a yummy mom to ‘one very cheeky, but cute little girl’, Aaliyah. Zainab’s story is much like mine. When she decided to wean her daughter at 6 months, she didn’t know where to begin. As a mother, she was not interested in buying bland and lumpy baby food and so, like most other desis she chose to home cook food for her daughter.
What began as a journey to let Aaliyah be in touch with her Indian roots and tastes, ended up being a frustrated attempt to find enough Indian recipes that suit babies. And that is when Zainab had her Eureka moment and she decided to write her own cookbook. I didn’t have my moment of epiphany yet!
Zainab just not decided to home cook delicious, nutritious meals, what she resolved to do is whip up SuperMeals for her daughter.
What are SuperMeals?
The Super of SuperMeals refers to the extra health benefits associated with these meals over and above normal meals, due to the inclusion of carefully selected foods, SuperFoods and SuperSpices. When fused together they produce scrumptious meals, chock-full of nutritional value for babies and toddlers.
Regular Foods + SuperFoods + SuperSpices = SuperMeals
If I pick up Zainab’s version of Banana and Cinnamon Roti Baaboro as an illustration, then:
Roti => Regular Foods (basic starchy food providing energy)
Banana => SuperFoods ( high energy food that provides potassium and healthy muscle growth)
Cinnamon => SuperSpice (provides immunity, facilitates digestion and brain function)
What I love about Zainab’s book is that she has meticulously researched and drawn up charts that educates the reader in the properties of foods and spices. As an Indian, spices are a staple ingredients. But traditional, matronly advice suggests that a baby must me served bland, pulpy food. While Zainab has left out salt, sugar and chilli, she has gone on to include the entire range of spices to her recipes, including black pepper, paprika and cloves. Zainab writes, “throw out the rulebook” and I cannot agree with her more!
Zainab’s book is for babies who are in the 2nd stage of feeding. The stage when babies are weaned and solids are included. By Stage 3, which is 10 months plus, babies develop a refined taste for meals. This is when meals are served chopped and not mashed. Stage 4, is for children between 1 and 3, they are ready for all spices and can enjoy family meals with minor changes.
Being a mother, Zainab has liberally picked from her own experiences. With her daughter who tested and tasted her culinary adventures, Zainab’s recipes will let you go through her journey all over again.
About The Recipes
Most of Zainab’s recipes are Indian. Having said that, she has also liberally used influences from world cuisine and added a desi tadka.
There are more than 60 recipes to choose from! So, you can easily plan a meal for an entire month without having to repeat a particular dish. Yes, there are some recipes that are for 7 month old babies, something that your two-year old is too grown up for. But I’d say that you can definitely keep it as a backup for those rainy days when your bub refuses to eat anything.
My personal favourite from Zainab’s treasure box is Fish Pie with Pepper and Coriander and here is a sneak peek into what it looks like.
2 small white potatoes – peeled, washed & cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
i onion – peeled & finely chopped
1/4 tsp minced garlic
Pinch of ground turmeric
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground coriander
Pinch of ground black pepper
100 gms of white fish fellet (skinless and boneless)
1 tsp unsalted butter – softened
3 tbsp of whole milk
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer (uncovered) on medium heat for 15 mins until tender.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, in a frying pan, heat the oil and add the onion. Stir fry on medium flame for 3-4 minutes until soft and golden. Then add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, black pepper and stir fry for another 30 secs – 1 min to lightly cook the spices and set aside.
Place the fish into a microwaveable dish and gently run the butter into it. Spoon over half of the milk and cover the dish with either a lid (leaving a small vent) or cling film and poach in the microwave on high of 90 seconds until the fish is flaky and cooked through. Check half way to ensure the fish is not being overcooked.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and place in a bowl. Spoon in the remaining 2 tbs of milk along with the buttery milk, the fish was cooked in and mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the spiced onion to the mash and flake in the dish, ensuring there are no sneaky bones left. Combine together for a creamy, luscious pie.
If non-vegetarian is not your palate, there are enough delightful veggie dishes to choose from. With delectable names such as Yummy Spiced Potato Pie, Baby’s Ratatouille, Quinoa Pilaf with Mixed Veggies, Indian Salmon Risotto with Parsnips and Brocolli, Banana and Blueberry Raita, Papaya Shrikhand, Lamb – Saag – Aloo Curry… there is something for every fussy eater.
My experience with V is that he loves to eat from our plate. He does not like mashed baby food. And you know what, neither do I!
Thanks to Zainab, I have a whole new recipes to put on his menu now! Finally, I can agree with Zainab and say:
Food from Mummy = Yummy food for me to eat!
Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook is available on Amazon. You can buy it here.
The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.