Monday, May 30, 2016

Cook With Kids: Mango Parfait

One of the reasons I love summers is because we get a variety of mangoes in abundance during this season. Come summer and mango would be mentioned in our conversation frequently at home. That bag of season's first mangoes that my mother would get from the neighbourhood fruit and vegetable market was so treasured by my siblings and I.

Whenever heading to the market, mom would always ask to check if there are enough mangoes at home or not and so many times when mom would get 2-3 kgs of mangoes, my father would also come home with the same amount at night. :-) Mangoes would never go out of stock at our home during summer.

Mangoes would be the reason we would love to rush home after school. As we would finish our lunch, mom would ask each one of us whether we want our mango full or to be sliced. My sister, brother and I would each get one whole mango to ourselves and we would hardly like to get it sliced. Eating the dussehri mango would mean biting off the black part on top of the mango to make a small opening and pressing with hands to suck the pulp out of this yummy fruit. We would never let a drop of the juice going down our hands or elbows to fall or go waste and would lick the juice starting from our fingers, hands, down to our elbows, giggling away.

I am of the kinds who do not like anyone tempering with their favourite fruit/recipes and I liked to eat my mango as it is, chilled from the fridge. No other flavoring or mixing for me, please. At most that I would let anyone play with my mango is to make a mango milkshake out of it or some mango ice-cream, made at home. I do not like the taste of store-bought mango ice cream and only enjoy eating a mango cream duet popsicle or an ice mango pop. But last year at my son's nursery when I had gone for a healthy cooking competition to mark Mother's Day, I tasted a mango parfait. I had no idea what a parfait meant, it was like a creamy layered dessert served in a glass, topped with chopped fruits. Tasting it was heavenly and I knew this is one thing I am going to try and learn and make it for my family in summers.

Now there are so many versions of parfait all over the internet that I end up getting confused whether to use yoghurt as a healthy alternate for cream in order to create layers. Many parfaits have a layer of oats and smoothies. Since I had recently made a bowl of fruit custard, I was brimming with ideas to serve the custard (see the above picture) to my family in a new way.


I made this mango parfait by layering it with a slice of chocolate cake (that I made in a mug in the microwave, see the recipe here), mango fruit custard (Click for the recipe), mango chunks and pulp and pomegranate seeds.

Then I let Little M arrange one of the glass jars by first showing him how to do it and then asking him to repeat the steps one by one. He absolutely loved doing it. You can also involve your kids in arranging the parfait jars with their own choice of ingredients. Just keep everything ready in advance. Chop the fruits, slice chocolate cake and prepare the custard and let your little ones make their own beautiful custard and fruit jars. You will be surprised by their imaginations and ideas as they create their own masterpieces. Why involve kids in the kitchen, you may wonder! Well, see the number of benefits I listed out here!

This is a super simple recipe that I highly recommend everyone to try out. The simplicity of this recipe amazes me and we can do so many variations in creating the layers. For example, you can completely omit the cake and use crushed or broken Marie/digestive biscuits. You may even create a layer using chocolate syrup or chocolate ice cream or use some other fruits such as grapes, apples. One may also garnish with dry fruits and nuts instead of pomegranate. Since this recipe is so versatile I did not feel the need to list out the exact measurements of the ingredients and the steps or method.

Ever since we made it together, my little one keeps on asking me to make it again! Plus, this is another recipe which is no-cook and totally fuss-free and the arranging of the parfait can be done by involving kids too! Now I have a quick dessert recipe for days I and my family are craving for something sweet. This one is surely going to be a saver to please unexpected guests or an impromptu dinner get-together.

Hope you enjoyed reading this sweet recipe as much as I enjoyed making it!

Have you tried making a parfait? What are favourite ingredients to us in a parfait?

Tell me all, I'd love to read what you all think!

Thanks for reading! :-)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fruit Custard

Fruit custard is one of my favourite summer desserts for the simple reason because it one of the desserts which is served chilled in the scorching summer and also because it is loaded with fresh fruit chunks.

I love vanilla essence, the flavour and fragrance of vanilla makes me go weak in the knees. Vanilla flavoured ice cream is my preference over chocolate ice cream any day. My love for vanilla is not limited to food. Though my kitchen is always stocked with either vanilla powder or essence, our home's living room shelf is always lined with vanilla scented candles. Let me also confess here that I am forever scouting supermarket aisles for Vanilla-scented body scrubs and lotions. Now you know why this girl can never ever say no to custard!

I am sharing here a simple recipe for making fruit custard which is served chilled in many homes in India during summers.

My mother has been making custard ever since I was small and I promised myself every time I ate my mom's fruit custard that this is one recipe I need to perfect.

It is one super simple, fuss-free dessert that will surely please guests and family alike after an afternoon brunch or lunch. Little M loves it even more when I throw in truck loads of chopped summer fruits such as sweet melon, mangoes and grapes.

Most of the times, the custard powder packaging mentions how to prepare custard and it is a good idea to take a look before proceeding. This is a basic custard recipe by my mom and now I too like to put it into use whenever I am making custard.

In this recipe I have used two fruits - mango and pomegranate, albeit I highly recommend as many adding fruits, that you or your children enjoy eating, to it.

The fruits that taste best in a custard apart from mango and pomegranate are - apples, pears (with the peels to lend it that crunch), and sweet melon, grapes. I prefer to not use orange or pineapple.

You may add chopped nuts and dry fruit, just like my mom. She never forgets to garnish her custard with loads of dry fruit and nuts, which I have not used in this recipe. She soaks the almonds overnight and peels them before chopping and adding to the custard. She also puts in chopped cashews and a handful of raisins.

Here is the recipe for making the fruit custard:

Prepping Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 10 min

Serves: 3


2.5 cups milk
4-5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp custard powder
1-2 cups chopped mango
1 pomegranate, seeded


1) In a heavy-bottomed pan. heat milk.
2) While milk becomes heated, take 3 tbsp warm milk and add 2 tbsp custard powder to it. Mix well and ensure there are no lumps. Keep aside.
3) Add sugar to pan of milk and stir until sugar dissolves. Turn off the gas. After 2-3 min when the milk has slightly cooled (but not cold) add in the custard and milk paste that you prepared in parts. Keep on stirring to ensure there are no lumps and turn on the gas and keep on stirring the milk on low flame.
4) After a few minutes of stirring you'll notice the milk has thickened a little. Now turn of the gas and transfer to a glass/steel bowl and let it cool. After it has come to room temperature, put the bowl of custard in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
5) Meanwhile, chop 3-4 mangoes (not too close too the seed) into cubes and remove the seeds of pomegranate. Cover chopped fruits with a cling film or a lid and put into the fridge.
6) Remember to add the fruits to the custard just before you serve. Serve chilled.

How did you find this recipe?

How do you like to eat or make your custard? Which fruits do you most commonly use?

Tell me all, I'd love to read what you think!

Thanks for reading! :-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Five Recipes To Cook With Kids

We are on the brink of being in the hot month of June. In the UAE this month spells heat and humid outdoors. It is the time when our neighbourhood park gets just a handful of visitors, even in the evening. It is when most of us like to stay indoors in the comfort of our air-conditioned heavens at home or in the big malls. Why not spend some quality time indoors with our kids by involving them in some simple cooking in the kitchen? I have got for you a list of Five Recipes To Cook With Kids. These are really basic recipes that I love making with my son - Little M who is four years old and has just begun his kindergarten. Read on and see how Little M helps me whip up yummy food and then enjoys eating what he made with me without any fuss. If you want to know why I ask to involve kids in the kitchen, check out the benefits of cooking with kids that I have mentioned in this post! Have you seen our mini Bread Pizzas that Little M and I made together without an oven and in less than 15 minutes?

Get kids in the kitchen and start rolling these simple recipes that I listed out for you!

1) Pancakes

Not just Little M but I too get all excited at the mention of pancakes and we love whipping these super easy delights that ca be made in under 15 minutes.

Easy to pack for school this is my go to recipe when I am in a rush or not in a mood to cook an elaborate meal with chopping and other strenuous tasks. See how Little M helps in mixing in the flour to prepare the batter, of course we have many spills! I also like to hand him the food cutters to give the pancakes his choice of shape. Pancakes are the easiest of the recipes that you can cook with your kids and make memories in the kitchen.

2) Bombay Sandwich

These sandwiches or toasts are a perfect way to feed vegetables to our little ones. I use boiled beetroots, potatoes and freshly sliced cucumber, tomatoes and onions in this one.

I keep the veggies ready and then Little M puts together his own sandwich by buttering the bread and then smearing some pudina chutney/mint dip (See here a simple recipe to make pudina chutney at home) on it and finally lining the veggies onto the bread before I put it into a toaster to make it a little crunchy! Again a perfect dabba snack we carry these on our picnics and I also pack it into the lunch boxes for Little M and his dad.

3) Guacomole

Super healthy to bits, Guacamole is Mexican dip which is made by either mashing or chopping avocado and then mixing in finely chopped onions, tomatoes. 

This snack/starter is easy to prepare and kids love it when its topped upon crispy nachos. I hand Little M a plastic knife to roughly chop the avocados and then mix it with chopped veggies which I keep ready beforehand. See how we devoured this dip by topping it on slightly warmed kuboos bread and some monaco biscuits.

4) Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Summers call for loads of smoothies, juices and milkshakes made healthy at home with fresh ingredients. These are super hydrating, nutritious and a quick snack option too when our kids comes home hungry after hours of play at the park.

Little M loves smoothies and milkshakes specially the ones that have his favourite fruits like mango, strawberry, pomegranate. He absolutely loved sticking thinly sliced strawberries on the glass walls and I also hand him the hand blender (under my close supervision) to blend together the banana and strawberries.

5) Banana Milkshake

Isn't a must for our growing toddlers and kindergartners who need loads of goodness hiding in this mug full? Packed with calcium and good for helping those tiny bones to grow strong, banana milkshake has been an old favourite with Little M and I.

Whenever I ask him if he would like a glass of banana milkshake, he knows that he will not only get to drink it but also lend his hand in making it. I like to hand him the hand blender under my watchful eye and also let him sprinkle some cinnamon powder or cocoa onto it!

Hope you have fun making these super simple recipes with your kids! I'd back with lots more simple yet healthy recipes to make with kids! Let's keep rolling in the kitchen with our little ones! :-)

What recipes do you like to involve your kids into? Please share with me I'd love to read what you think!

Thanks for reading! :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cook With Kids: Bread Pizza

This is the first recipe I am sharing that can be made easily with kids. Bread Pizzas are so versatile that you can make them interesting in so many ways. Layer them with different vegetables and loads of cheese and it becomes kids favourite instantly.

Ideal to pack for kids lunchboxes, I often send it to Little M's school. Plus its easy, quick and loaded with the goodness of veggies and cheese. What more can a mom ask for? :-)

Involve kids in making these beautiful bread pizzas on weekends and set a happy tone to a dull evening. I have already listed here the benefits of cooking with kids in the last blog post. Have you seen it?

These stove-top bread pizzas are so easy that I didn't feel the need to list out the method step by step. However I will still try to explain the process in detail.

Preparing Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 5-7 min


Bread slices
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 cup blanched and chopped baby carrot, baby corn, sweet corn
1/2 cup of finely chopped onion, tomatoes
Cheese strips

See how Little M helped me make this super snack.

I asked Little M to slather tomato ketchup and olive oil on the brown bread slices and then arrange veggies that I had blanched and chopped beforehand.

His favourite part was topping his bread pizza with oodles of cheese. :-)

These bread pizzas can be made on the tawa (griddle).  After Little M finished decorating the pizza, I handed him a plate and ketchup squeezer and told him to make a ketchup smiley (a good way to work on those fine motor skills too).

Meanwhile, I heated the tawa and then put two of these colourful pizzas on top and then covered the tawa by turning a large bottomed bowl upside down on it.

I have seen my mother use this method and now I use it to roast beetroots or make stove top pizzas. Just wait for 5-6 min for the cheese to melt and your bread pizza is ready.

Note: Try and not leave the pizza bread on the heat for a long time as it can make the bread too hard. Keeping it for 5-6 min helps make the bread crispy and soft from top.

Do you like getting kids in the kitchen? What are your favourite recipes to whip up with the kids?

Tell me all. I'd love to read your thoughts.

Thanks for reading! :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cook With Kids

We have just been back from a breathtaking experience holidaying in Georgia. I have so many stories from our trip to share with you all, along with countless pictures. But first I would like to share with you all some recipes to cook/prepare with your children, especially the little ones. With this post I will begin sharing the benefits of cooking with kids with all mothers out there.

We often shun away kids from the kitchen thinking what can they do to help us. Mostly we think of all the spills and mess that might break out when they do something. Surely, it will stretch your cooking time by 10-15 minutes when you let your child help in with the tasks you do with such ease, finesse and perfection every day. But once you allow kids in the kitchen you will surprised at how better you connect with them and how out of the box kids think.

As Little M entered big school, he would often tag along with me in the kitchen whenever I am cooking, asking and sometimes pestering me to let him help. Every time he would come asking if I he can help me, I would be horrified to imagine huge spills and mess mountains in my little kitchen and tell him to go play with his toys with that thought.

Reluctant at first, I gradually handed him simple tasks to take care of such as handing me the vegetables/fruits from the fridge, washing the veggies, buttering the breadwhipping up milk shake using a hand blender (under my supervision). Let me tell you these tasks might all sound very easy to an adult but for a child to be able to do these tasks is a different ball game altogether. It fills them and you both, with pride and a sense of achievement.  Through this series I look forward to share with you all the simple recipes Little M (4 years) and I whip up together in the kitchen.  

He cannot contain his excitement whenever I ask him to come in the kitchen to help me. His giggles and happy dance that he keeps putting up in the middle of the process is my most cherished reward. Little M has now started to crack eggs and though he is not mastered the art of egg cracking without spills, he is getting better with each attempt.

Here are some of the advantages (in order to encourage all parents) for inviting their kids in the kitchen:

  • Perfect bonding time.
  • Make fond memories for your children to look back at.
  • Learning by doing.
  • Sense of achievement, builds self-confidence that they helped put together a meal or they contributed in the family work.
  • Learn the importance of cooking fresh and healthy food.
  • More likely to eat what they helped cook or put together.
  • Allows them to take their own decisions. For example, choosing and deciding if they want carrots or cucumber for the salad or both.
  • Learning to cook is a life skill that kids will benefit from for the rest of their lives.
  • Kids are less likely to sit in front of TV or ask for Ipad if they are happily engaged in the kitchen with you.

I guess these reasons were more than enough to convince me to let Little M into the kitchen often. However, I would advise to keep a few things in mind always when cooking with kids, especially the little ones:

  • Start with basic recipes, especially with smaller children. Such as a sandwich, fruit salad, milkshakes or smoothies.
  • Don't allow kids near the burner. I haven't yet allowed Little M to step near the gas or do something on it.
  • Don't hand them knives and other sharp equipment they might get hurt with. Even if they want to do some chopping hand them a plastic knife and give soft foods to work with. For example, avocado, banana or tomato.

  • If in case you're handing them hand blender or a toaster or a mixer, NEVER leave their side and keep a close watch.

I would urge all parents to let kids in the kitchen and begin making memories along with some delicious food.

Stay tuned for some simple recipe ideas to start cooking with kids!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Daal Palak

There are some dishes we all used to run away from as kids. We would hold fights, make faces, put up arguments and when none of it works we would literally beg mom in order to escape eating those "healthy" dishes. Do you have some such dishes coming to your mind? The recipe for the dish that I am sharing here today is one such recipe I used to shrug seeing in front of me most of my childhood and teenage life. Daal Palak!!

Strange enough, but it is the same dish I can't wait to lick off my plate once I am done cooking it. Yes it is funny that the same dish my mother used to make and as a child/teen I would be hell bent on not eating, that I now yearn for and find perfect to eat with hot and fluffy phulkas or chapatti for lunch. Do you also find yourself in the same spot as I do? :-)

Another gem of a dish from North Indian cuisine, Daal Palak is a powerhouse of nutrients such as iron, fibre, protein and vitamins. The green colour of this curry/gravy is proof enough to show how healthy and nutritious this dish is! Many people do not like spinach especially children but if you cook spinach with moong daal or yellow lentils and masoor daal or pink lentils, it will be a creamy green sauce/curry that everyone will want to lick their fingers off! You can adjust the chili if making for children!

I have learnt this recipe from my mother and over the years have developed a knack of putting it together without much effort on the table in under 30 minutes. This recipe is healthy and easy to make and requires very little ingredients. It has the subtle rich aroma of ghee or clarified butter, tiny bits of soft onions and a pungent flavour of garlic and creamy texture of the lentils and spinach.

Prepping Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 20 min
Difficulty Level: Easy


Spinach leaves, 1 bunch, washed
Moong Daal, 2 tbsp, washed
Masoor Daal, 2 tbsp, washed
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Onion, 1, finely chopped
Tomato, 1, grind to paste
4-5 green chilies
4 tbsp ghee
1 cup water
turmeric powder 1 tsp
red chili powder 1 tsp
salt, to taste


1) Start by washing spinach leaves in a colander. And wash the daal too.

2) In a pressure cooker put the washed spinach leaves, daal, 1-2 green chilies (whole), 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1 cup water along with some salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Put the lid on and pressure cook until it whistles. Turn off the gas and let the steam escape.

3) Meanwhile, in a wok put ghee and add chopped garlic and let it sizzle until the raw smell disappears.

4) Now put in the chopped onions.

5) Until the onions brown, grind 1-2 tomatoes and 2 green chilies with a blender.

6) Once the onions seem brown add in the tomato-green chili paste. Saute until you see oil releasing from the sides of this mixture.

7) Open the lid of the pressure cooker and using a blender grind the spinach, daal, garlic and green chili. You will get a dark green paste.


8) When you see oil has separated from the tadka add in the turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. Mix.

9) Now add in the dark green paste to the tadka. Mix well. Add in half a cup water of you find the daal palak too thick. Boil it.

Serve with a dollop of butter along with fresh chapatti or parathas!

How do you incorporate spinach in your diet?

Tell me all the tips and tricks you use to hide it in the kids meals to make sure they are eating this healthy green leafy vegetable! I'd love to read and be enlightened.

Thanks for reading! :-)