A new academic year is about to start and so is my new life as a foodblogger. I make it sound more dramatic than it actually is, I know, but in the last couple of months I feel we’ve had a bit of a battle going on with kiddies and food – call it terrible twos, call it whingy toddler syndrome, no matter how you call it, it’s just bloody frustrating.
Imagine you are a two-year-old. Sitting at the table is boring and so is eating most of the time. Looking at helicopters, airplanes, leaves and little insects crawling up the window are life-or-death-matters, not sitting down at the table for digger’s sake. And because you look too busy doing other things, the starving parents think you are not going to notice and end up eating what’s on your plate. How could they not see that you were starving? It’s definitely time to have a tantrum! Or if you’re lucky, the neighbour’s carer turns up with the best pancakes on earth and you can now stop screaming and stuff yourself while you watch your parents suffering because they have eaten too much and don’t feel like eating pancakes (this is NOT fiction).
So, as far my new life as a foodblogger is concerned, not much is going to change really. I think I can say that I used the last year to train the whole family’s palate to eat food with flavour but not overly sweet and salty – and I can say it worked! I used to drink my coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar and now I reduced to one. My kiddies will avoid food that is overly sweet and it’s amazing how for them often less is more. In the last period I could avoid cooking dinner quite a few times and it’s been a real pleasure seeing them eating cherry tomatoes like popcorn, other raw vegetables and whatever fresh produce we would put in front of them.
All in all my mission stays the same, create yummy food that is little people friendly that is not overly sweet or salty, food that is tasty but at the same time nutritious and healthy but without racking my brain. Are they going to eat it? And what’s going to happen if they don’t eat it? Nothing, life goes on. Therefore number 1 priority is to make food that pleases myself! Which is hard enough, I have to say. I could change my blog name into “Fine Dining for Hungry Parents” (because let’s be honest, that’s what it’s really about!) but I’ll keep it simply to just “Fine Dining”. And I’m not talking about 3 Michelin Stars food, I am talking about food that I can cook at home and that makes me go wow, I wanna eat this because I wanna eat this (guess who I might be quoting here :)). I wanna cook food that I secretly want to be rejected so that I can eat more of it (I’ve already decided I am buying a gym membership in October…).
For celebrating this whole new selfish me in the kitchen I decided to go for an amazing Indian lunch. I recently watched Gary Mehigan’s Far Flung and I found the tiffin box (Indian lunch boxes) episode so amazing that now I want a tiffin box (I want a tiffin box because I want a tiffin box). So I got myself a book called Bombay Lunchbox by Carolyn Caldicott. It is such a pretty book with great photos and yummy easy recipes. I picked three I had most of the ingredients for and it turned out that they all go super well together! My little people avoided the chutney as it was too spicy for them, but the raita fixes it. You can eat this amazing trio with basmati rice or naan!
350 gr dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked in boiling water for about 30 minutes
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cm piece ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried red chilli
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 medium potato, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 cinnamon stick
250 gr coconut milk
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Fresh mint for serving
Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based pan. Once hot add the mustard seeds and as they start to pop add the onion, garlic, chili and cook until soft. Stir in the ground coriander, cumin and turmeric, fry for a few seconds, then add the diced potato and carrots and cook until they start going brown.
Add the chickpeas, tomato purée and cinnamon stick and stir in enough water to create a thick sauce. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the veggies are soft. Add the coconut milk, garam masala and salt to taste. Simmer until most liquid has reduced.
Serve with some fresh coriander or mint.
Fresh Mint and Cucumber Raita
250 gr full fat yoghurt
150 gr cucumber, peeled, deseeded and grated
1 cm piece ginger root, peeled and grated
a small handful of mint leaves
1/4 tsp roasted ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the fridge until serving time!
Instant Tomato Chutney
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
6 ripe medium-sized tomatoes, diced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp honey
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot, when hot add the seeds. When they start to pop add the garlic and chili and cook for about a minute (depending on how hot your oil is, even less than that potentially or you might burn the garlic!). Add the tomatoes, honey, pepper and salt to taste. Put a lid on the pot and cook over medium -low heat until the tomatoes break down and your chutney is nice and thick. Put it in a glass jar , refrigerate it and consume it within a few days.