There was much anticipation in cooking our Indian menu. After browsing cookbooks and recipes, the boys and I agreed that Indian and Pakistani cuisine shared so much in common that we could cook them in one go. It had to be for the weekend, and perhaps we could even invite guests to sample our cuisine. The dishes had to be child friendly since we decided to invite 2 girls, Martina (3) and Sofia (5) to help with some easy dishes and then sample their concoctions. The boys were excited and they told me they wanted to make sure they pick dishes that are not too spicy for the girls. So we settled on Murgh Tikka (Grilled Chicken), Badami Gosht (Spiced Lamb with Saffron and Almonds), Sabzi Bhaji (Fried Mixed Vegetables), Dhal (Lentils), Falooda (Sweet milk with coloured jellies) and Kheer (Rice Pudding) for dessert. We were going all out to show respect to such a splendid cuisine.
Pouring in a lotta luv
The boys eagerly measure ingredients for Naan
With the ambitious menu, we needed to do some prep work. The chicken was marinated overnight, and the Dhal was soaking in some water early Sunday morning. Since we´ve never made Naan before, we decided to proof the dough early Sunday morning to make sure it goes well. We didn´t have the right flour, but decided to make it anyway. The boys were excited. Tristan measured the flour and Inigo prepped the active ingredients. It was interesting to see Inigo volunteer for the time consuming task of working the dough into a pliable form, without being asked, he began working it like a pro.
Need to figure out my own kneading style!
While Tristan started frying the spices for the Badami Gosht, Inigo kept his focus on his Naan dough. Kitchen Stadium was humming with the sizzling pans, boiling water and heating oven. Beautiful music and hardworking boys —nothing better on a Sunday morning! Out of the blue Tristan started announcing á la Iron Chef countdown: “Fifteen minutes… left before we need to leave for Kung-Fu.”
Focused and determined to get his dough fluffy and Naan-ready.
Getting his groove on
“Let me mix in the lamb before we leave for Kung-Fu mommy,” suggested Tristan. “This way, it has more time to become tender and absorb the flavours my spices.” Spoken like a true Indian wallah. His eyes were still stinging from the onions in the pan, but he forged on and continued mixing his curry spices. This step is crucial in getting a deep curry flavour. He apparently was listening to my coaching.
Bruising the cardamoms for his spice mixture
Teary-eyed curry cook fights back the emotions
After a short Kung-Fu break, the boys were back in the kitchen rolling out the Naan for the first taste test. It was fluffy and good but missing that Indian flavour. We gotta get some of the chickpea flour for more authenticity next time. But the boys were deliriously making tiny balls, rolling them out just to the right thickness and popping them into the oven. They were so pleased to have learned to make their fave Naan bread.
Smooth sailing in Naan baking
“Oh, it smells so good mommy!” Tristan exclaimed as he mixed his Badami Gosht. ”I can´t wait to eat Indian and Pakistani tonight!” Meanwhile, Inigo started cutting the veggies for the Sabzi Bhaji: cauliflower, green beans and carrots. He started dicing the beans and cutting the carrots in circles, I didn´t correct him. I could not interfere in his newfound independence and confidence in the kitchen. He knew what he was doing.
Large and in-charge: loving the chopping board.
Deciding on how to tackle this cauliflower...hmm...
So, after patiently figuring out how to peel off the cauliflower leaves, Inigo set himself on figuring out the best way to break down the entire cauliflower. Tristan, started toasting the mustard seeds in ghee, adding in the turmeric and chili powder for Inigo´s veggie dish. After much mulling about he simply said, “Mommy, you need to hold it and I will just cut this in the middle.” Good decision.
Inigo and Tristan host their first Master class, with Sofia jumping in and Martina, the eternal skeptic observing the pack
With all the pots simmering, the boys started prepping their dough for Sofia and Martina, extra rolling pins were taken out and Tristan rolled a special small ball for Martina to work on. The girls arrived and the party started. It was fairly easy, Sophie jumped in and was rolling out perfect Naan dough after a few practice runs. Inigo, on the other hand was struggling to keep Martina focused on the task. He sees it is not always easy being the teacher. Good stuff.
Martina still skeptical about Inigo´s demonstration; while Sofia and Tristan are rolling in sync
After all the rolling, the kids were ready to eat! Inigo started ladling out his Dhal, and we slowly began filling the table with all the Indian and Pakistani dishes. The girls were perfect guests, Sofia turned to Tristan declaring: “This meat tastes good!” With that critique, the boys were brimming with pride looking forward to their next adventure.
Martina musters up the courage to sample the Falooda
Inigo proud of his Dhal
Murgh Tikka, Dhal and Naan
Tristan and Sofia enjoying their Passage to India
Mini chefs enjoy the fruits of their labour: Skål!