Reviewed by Kathryn Carr
“Delicious, healthy recipes that spice up the weaning process and beyond.”
For the past few weeks, I’ve been spicing up our mealtimes with recipes from the ‘Easy Indian Super Meals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family’ recipe book. With a two-year-old to feed, I’m always on the lookout for fresh dishes that are healthy, tasty and easy enough for me to prepare and cook given that I’ve a toddler and a four-month old to juggle with the ingredients I choose and the pans I use.
Having weaned once and preparing to repeat the process soon, my aim is to find more adventurous baby meals. As a fan of spices, I’m keen to learn how to introduce these into little one’s diet. The ‘super meals’ referred to in the book’s title, point to the potential health benefits of the recipes, which include carefully selected foods, super foods and super spices.
The book begins with approximately thirty pages dedicated to explaining the health benefits of spices as well as a guide as to how and when to use them when weaning. The recipes are grouped by meal type – veggie, fish, meat, sweet and so on, with each one labelled with a guideline stage/age at which it can be made for the younger members of the family, as well as how long it takes to make. The cooking instructions are clear and easy to follow too.
Recipes recommended from the age of seven months include sweet potato, apple and dhal curry, fish pie with coriander and a mint yoghurt raita. I made these as little snacks for our toddler and I can’t wait to make them again when we’re weaning our youngest. “I love curry Mum” and “Mmmm, yoghurt” are just a couple of reviews from our impressed two-year old.
The next grouping of recipes is for those aged ten months plus. My sweet-toothed toddler thoroughly enjoyed the mango and banana lassi (a yoghurt based drink) and the apple and pear jardo (a sweet rice dish). Recipes up to this stage are written to be made in ‘servings’ appropriate for the suggested age. They also tell you if the individual portions can be frozen. I found making the full batch and labelling them for future use was a great timesaver and it meant I always had a supply of homemade, healthy, tasty meals to hand in the freezer. The fruity lamb tagine, garam Yorkshire hotpot and spaghetti bolognese were all given the thumbs up by my daughter, who quite often will turn her nose up at new dishes. I found getting her to help spoon in the spices and telling her little facts about them (as detailed on the recipe pages) encouraged her to tuck in.
The three aforementioned recipes (as do many others throughout the book) very literally support the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ The inclusion of the word ‘Indian’ in its title had me naively believe we’d be eating nothing but curry and rice for the foreseeable future. I’ve learnt that Indian cookery is more about the simple yet different ingredients that come together to create mouth-watering meals. Many of the recipes offer a unique take on traditional dishes; family favourites with added inspiration from the aromatic tastes of Indian home-cooking. This book offers lots of variety and oodles of flavour that will encourage the whole family to try a healthy range of tastes, textures and ingredients.
My plan with our two-year-old has been to get her eating the same meal as us. We’ve had varying degrees of success and I was intrigued as to whether this book could help. I knew we’d need to compromise but I wasn’t sure where to start. This book turned out to be an ideal starting point. Most of the recipes for ages 1-3 plus are written to serve a family of four, so since embarking on our Indian adventure, we’ve tucked into a cardamom chicken curry, Indian cottage pie and an Indo-Moroccan lamb stew. Yummy!
Whilst some of the dishes aren’t as spicy as our pre-child selves may have previously gone, that’s not to say they’re not full of spice and life. They’re in no way bland or boring, just pretty tasty.
In addition to the delicious recipes, there’s plenty of general weaning tips to help you understand when’s the best time to introduce certain tastes and textures. There’s even meal plans, suggested food group dietary requirements and a spice starter kit list of essentials.
Put together by Zainab Jagot Ahmed with all the recipes tried, tested and approved by her own daughter Aaliyah and her friends, this mum has successfully created delightful dishes that include vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. It’s an insightful and alternative look at weaning for parents who live to eat and want their little ones to eat to live a healthy lifestyle.
RRP: £14.99 (Hardcover) / £9.99 (Kindle edition)
Available to buy from Amazon here.