Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Introduction to Indian Cuisine for Babies

Cheryl Tallman

Indian cuisine seeks a balance of four tastes - sweet, sour, salty and bitter. This goal is based on a 5,000 year-old science that focuses a belief that eating balanced flavors encourages proper digestion and the release of positive, nurturing energy.
The food of India reflects the great variety of Indian life.  What Indian people eat depends on the crops raised locally in their area and the ethnic and religious traditions and their lifestyles. On crowded city streets, vendors peddle a selection of tasty on-the-go food such as samosas, a vegetable (or meat) stuffed pastry. Religious affiliations also dictate Indian diets. As a result, people in India eat far less meat than do other people around the world. This emphasis on meatless dining has led to a unique cuisine of vegetarian delights.
Common Spices used in Indian Cooking:
Curry Powder (Yellow)* 
Garam Masala* 
Note: Curry Powder and Garam Masala are both Spice blends.  They can be purchased in markets or homemade using a variety of spices.
Common Foods Used in Indian Cooking:
Chick Peas 
Leafy Greens 
Winter Squashes 
Chutneys (a sweet and sour condiment)

It's simple to add a "Taste of India" to your baby's food by making Indian-inspired sauces, freezing these sauces in single-serving cubes and adding them to your baby's pureed or mashed foods.
Coconut Curry Sauce Cubes

Yellow Curry Powder is often associated with Indian cooking.  It's a blend of spices, which vary by region, food, and cooking style.  Most Indian curry powders contain turmeric, coriander and cumin. At the market, choose a curry powder labeled "mild" for this recipe.

This recipe uses coconut milk which can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket.  Coconut milk sometimes separates into a thick layer of white coconut and a watery liquid. Shaking the can before opening can recombine it, but if that doesn't work, pour the contents of the can into a blender and whirl it, or pour it into a bowl and use a whisk to blend it together.

1 (13.5 oz) can Coconut Milk 
¼ cup Chicken Broth 
¼ cup Onion, chopped 
1 Garlic Clove, chopped 
1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste 
1-2 Tsp. Curry (mild) Powder 
¼ tsp. Cinnamon 
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
Place all contents in a blender and process to smooth texture. Pour into a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze until ready to use.  

Serving: Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and combine it with pureed or mashed beans, meats rice or vegetables.  When first introducing the sauce, try a small amount and work your way up to more. Here are some delicious combinations for awesome coconut curries:
Lentils, Carrots and Apples 
Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower and Beef 
Brown Rice, Spinach and Chicken

Apple Chutney Cubes

Chutney is a popular Indian Condiment that is made from fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar. It is commonly served with roasted meats or vegetables and curries.  It also makes a great snack with cream cheese and crackers.   

3 large Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and chopped 
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Golden Raisins 
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar 
1/2 cup Brown Sugar 
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, chopped 
1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Let cool. Pour into a blender or food processor and process to a smooth texture. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze until ready to use.  

Serving:  Remove a chutney cube from the freezer, defrost and combine it with pureed or mashed beans, meats rice or vegetables. At the beginning, try a small amount of chutney and work your way up to more. 

Here are some winning combinations for tasty chutney-infused dining:
Banana and Yogurt 
Pork, Butternut Squash and Brown Rice 
Roasted Cauliflower, White Potatoes and Black Beans 
Combine Apple Chutney with Vanilla Yogurt for great dipping sauce

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

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