Today I am gonna tell you the story of a happy little tummy….
When lil’ Nia turned six months, we introduced her to solid foods. Just like all other American born babies and also as instructed by the pediatrician, she started with the Gerber Rice Cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula. She was just thrilled with her new food that tasted and felt so different on her inexperienced palate, that hadn’t seen anything outside the world of milk! Seeing her excitement for solid foods, we quickly purchased some jars of first vegetables like carrots, peas and green beans and some first fruits like apples, pears and bananas. Although my babygirl seemed to be enjoying it all, I was not quite happy giving her all that commercial food. I decided to dive into the world of babyfood and cook some for real!
(The babyfood recipes posted here are for babies 6-12 months of age. Please note that some ingredients may not be suitable for your baby. Use your discretion to substitute ingredients in the babyfood recipes below)
Baby’s First Khichadi
(Ground Rice and Lentils for baby)
The soft, mushy, not-so-spicy khichadi is the first solid food given to most babies in India. I followed the traditional recipe and cooked this babyfood for the first time using rice, moong daal, salt, jeera and pure ghee in lotsa water. This delicious baby concoction was then puréed in the blender and served warm to a hungry little tummy, who took it all in, the very first time! Guess what, the serving size was a teenie tiny table spoon 😛
It was a very good start, but after all that, was she going to have just a couple of tbsp khichadi ?! It didn’t seem to be the most efficient way to cook babyfood! With a little more reseach and some chit-chatting with new desi mommies around that time, I devised a perfect recipe!
Sharing some sweet memories of Nia enjoying the lip-smacking good khichadi…..
Before we jump on to making khichadi for the baby, here’s some prep work to be done ahead of time……
1 cup basmati or any white rice like sona masoori, surti kolam or paraboiled rice (used for making idlis, dosas, etc)
1 cup moong daal (yellow moong daal without skin)
1 cup split masoor daal (orange masoor daal without skin)I liked to use 2:1 proportions of daal: rice to up the health factor and make it more nutritious.
Combine the rice and the daals and wash thoroughly. Spread the washed mixture on a flat surface like a paper towel lined cookie sheet or a large kitchen cloth and leave it for upto 48 hours to dry.
Alternatively, you can air dry overnight (about 8 hours) and then lightly roast it in the oven for 2-3 hours at minimum setting or microwave high for 1-2 mins stirring in between, till it is completely dry.
Grind the dried daal-rice mixture to fine powder for younger babies (6-8 months) or coarse for older babies (8-10 months). For babies more that 10 months old, try grinding half of the mixture coarsely and add it to the remaining half of the unground mixture. Store it in an airtight jar.§ A tip from my mom: Toor daal is a little difficult for the baby’s sensitive digestive system. Also, other types of daals, especially the ones with skin like whole or split moong daal or masoor daal or urad daal might not be easy for the baby to swallow. So it is better to introduce these at a later stage, around the age of 10-12 months.
To make about 4 tbsp khichadi (this will be more than enough for 2 meals in a day for ages 6-8 months)
1 tbsp rice-daal powder (gradually increase the quantity as your baby starts taking in more)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable du jour (chopped spinach, peas, corn or tiny chunks of potatoes, carrots, green beans, etc that are ok for the baby)
1 pinch jeera (cumin seeds)
1 pinch garam masala (Yes! I wanted my daughter to get used to our desi spices right from the beginning and now, at 18 months, she can handle spicy food very well. Most times, I don’t have to cook seperate food for her)
fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped (do not use this in the first few weeks of introducing this baby food)
1/2 small garlic clove, minced (again, do not use this in the first few weeks of introducing this baby food)
1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
Combine all the ingredients above and cook covered in a small stainless steel vessel placed inside a pressure cooker. Cover the lid of the pressure cooker and bring the it to a full pressure, letting it whistle for 3 times, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 mins.
Alternatively, you can cook the khichadi stove top over medium heat by combining all the ingredients in a small pot till everything is cooked and most of the water is absorbed.
After the pressure cooker cools down, remove the vessel and mash the cooked daal-rice khichadi to mash the vegetables, if added, and also to make sure there are no lumps in the khichadi.
Garnish with a few drops of ghee and serve at a warm-cool temperature.A special thanks to Anuya & Mitali for sharing with me their tips on khichadi making.
L→R: Anuya with Ved & Mitali with Arav
Baby’s First Palak Soup
(Puréed Spinach Soup for baby)
Baby’s soups are the easiest to make! I accidently created this recipe for palak (spinach) soup for Nia one day while I was making Palak Paneer for dinner. I had boiled a bunch of spinach leaves along with a potato for the main gravy of the dish when I realized I could use a little bit of the purée and turn it into a hearty soup for the baby. The benefits of spinach are well known to everyone. A leafy green vegetable, spinach with its delicate texture and a jade green color provides more nutrients than any other food.
It turned out to be a great idea and Nia loved the palak soup!
To make 1 cup of palak soup for the baby (refrigerate left over for upto 2 days)
2-3 handfuls of spinach leaves (substitute spinach with green peas, green beans, tomato, pumpkin, butternut squash, etc. that suits your baby)
1 baby or new potato (this is the thickening agent, especially good with spinach, peas, tomato or green beans)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1-2 black pepper corns
1 small bay leaf
1/2 small garlic clove, mashed
Wash the spinach leaves and give them a rough chop. Place in a small pressure cooker stainless steel vessel or in a small pot along with water, just enough to cover all the leaves well. Wash and peel the potato. Quarter it and drop it in along with the spinach leaves.
Add cumin seeds, garlic clove, peppercorns and bay leaf. Season with salt and bring to boil. Let it simmer to cook the spinach and potato, for about 10 mins and then allow it to cool.
Once the spinach and the potato have cooled down, discard the garlic clove, bay leaf and the pepper corns (You should easily find them floating around in the container). Strain the cooked spinach and potato, reserving all the water that was used for cooking them. Purée the spinach and potato in a blender, adding the reserved water to make it a thick soup like consistency.
Pour it into a tiny little bowl and feed it a warm-cool temperature with a baby-friendly spoon.
So, this was the story of a happy little tummy! Now, who wants to try some babyfood?……… I know two people who will jump right at it! Right Chuns & Fats?! 😉