Namita from Indian Spicebox lets you know how you can really get your kids to eat their vegetables, with power-packed veggies and truly delicious recipes
As moms we’re forever struggling to get our kids to eat their vegetables… and whether yours love their greens or can’t stand those beans, it’s always a good idea to try something new and mix things up every once in a while. Here are three power-packed veggies for you that are popular with Indian moms and luckily for us, easily available here in Singapore!
1. Fenugreek (Methi)
This gorgeous green leafy vegetable can be easily found at Mustafa (in the veg section – enter through gate number 6 on Syed Alwi Road and head upstairs to level 2) and is a great source of iron and calcium like many other green leafy vegetables. Fenugreek also promotes digestive health and helps with constipation. Try cooking with a little at first, as its slightly bitter taste might put off little ones if overpowering in a dish.
Fenugreek pulao is a favorite of my 4-year-old and is simply 1-2 cups finely chopped fenugreek leaves (no stems) sautéed in ghee and 1 clove finely chopped garlic, to which we add ½ tsp each of turmeric and salt, then 1 cup of basmati rice and 2.5 cups of water. Boil uncovered for 10 minutes and then cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Best served along with a curry or yogurt and/or daal (lentils). Fenugreek leaves can also be added to any curry or daal recipe or even into the dough of a roti recipe to make methi roti or methi paratha.
Dried fenugreek leaves (known as a Kasoori methi) is a popular spice used in North Indian cooking…we love a generous sprinkle of it on our butter chicken!
Okay, so the geographic origin of okra (or lady’s finger) is apparently disputed but it is an extremely popular vegetable in India and moms love cooking it for their kids!
If a slimy green vegetable comes to mind and you’re sure your kids will instantly reject this, then you’re doing it all wrong! Okra needs to be kept dry (don’t wash, but rather wipe with a damp paper towel), sliced thinly and cooked with a number of spices such as cumin, turmeric and most importantly, ‘amchur’ or dry mango powder, which draws out the gooeyness. You can even pop cooked okra into the oven to crisp it up further.
Cooked crisp, okra almost feels like a crunchy snack for little ones. While you do get fresh okra at most grocery stores in Singapore, the freshest ones (and best value for money) are at the vegetable shops at Buffalo Road or at Mustafa’s vegetable section. Okra is high in fiber and contains substantial amounts of potassium, calcium, vitamin c and antioxidants. Okra is said to be great for constipation and a slew of medicinal benefits are listed here.
This unusual looking (a very long, green stick that will poke way out of your shopping bag and potentially bother you!) vegetable is extremely popular in southern Indian cooking and often added to stews and curries. Most commonly found in Sambhar, a lentil and veg soup that is a popular accompaniment to dishes such as dosa, idli, uttapam that can be found at a number of south Indian restaurants in little India such as Murugan, MTR and Madras Woodlands.
Extremely high in Vitamin A, calcium, iron and Vitamin C, Drumstick is a powerhouse of nutrients and kids often find it fun to eat as you have to slurp (or spoon) out the insides of the stick (you can’t eat the outer stem). Think of it as a vegetarian version of bone marrow!
Drumsticks are very popular in Kerala cuisine and you could try making a non-spicy stew that pairs well with steamed basmati rice. My friend Prakash Nayak, who is head chef at the stunning luxe Ayurvedic resort Niraamaya in Kerala, is a culinary genius and has generously shared his kid-friendly Drumstick stew recipe with us:
Recipe for Drumstick Stew
25 ml Coconut oil
3 Green cardamom pods
1 Cinnamon stick
12 Black peppercorns
5 Shallots, finely sliced
2 tbsp Ginger sliced
2 tbsp Garlic sliced
12 Curry leaves
60 ml Coconut milk
100 g Drumstick, cut into 3 inch pieces
100 ml Coconut cream
Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottom pan then add the all spices.
Next add shallots, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and stir over a slow flame till the shallots soften.
Then, add the drumstick pieces followed by coconut milk, and season with salt.
Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until the drumstick is fully cooked.
Finally, add the coconut cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with steamed basmati rice.
We wish you well nourished little veggie lovers, mamas!