Kids in the kitchen

Vacation time is fun time with the kids. While many mothers despair of the crazy hours that hang heavily on their hands while children make a merry mess of the home and all schedules, it doesn’t have to be like that. Children can learn a variety of things from the kitchen and can benefit hugely from the quality time you spend with them. The trick really is in your attitude. If you maintain a cool and in-control persona, kitchen time with kids can become both memorable and informative.

Prepare them

Tell the children that today’s salad or side dish will be produced by the children as a special surprise.  If you have a few post –its lying around the house stick them back to back and sneak a toothpick between them to create an impression of a name tag. Write the name of the dish on one side and the chef (name of child/children) on the other. Such small incentives can make a child brim with pride and feel enthusiastic about learning something new.

Presentation first

For children, it is always about the looks first. If they see you pull out a nice dish to serve the same old salad in, they feel prepared to go that extra distance in chopping and peeling. Unconsciously you are also teaching them the quantity of say lettuce they need to chop to fill this dish. They are learning how many carrots they need to peel to make a main dish of say carrot mutter ki sookhi subzi.

Sneak in a vegetable/fruit they have never tried before

Once they are in the fun zone, you can try and sneak in say a sweet potato or a musk melon to improve their food repertoire. They are twice as likely to accept a new dish if they have prepared it, than when somebody else cooks and serves.

How amazing did that feel? You not only got pint sized workers to peel half a dozen carrots and chop up cucumbers for dinner, but have also simultaneously taught and spent quality time with them!

Here are a few simple everyday items that kids can cook once they are familiar with the kitchen and its hazards.

1. Chappati tostadas

This is perfect when you’ve had guests for lunch and want to put your feet up for dinner. Ask the children to toast two left over chappatis and sandwich them with left over sabzi with grated cheese. Once cooled the toasted pizza like rotis can be cut into four and served with some left over mint chutney.

2. Cucumber and Carrot salad

This is perfect when you are expecting family friends over for a meal and are busy with the rest of the dishes. Once you have practised a few times, cuts and nicks with the knife can be minimized and children will benefit greatly by the wrist worst and precision required in cutting salads. Encourage them to garnish with lemon and coriander.

3. Tomato Rasam

Leave a cup of cooked toor/arhar dal and watch the kids make this simple item. The recipe is a simple one that requires a little tamarind pulp (one table spoon), salt, sugar, rasam powder, two or three chopped tomatoes, dal and water. Bring them to a boil and let simmer in a closed pot. Garnish with coriander and serve. Simple. Once you have them shown them a few times, they will breeze through the prep. Watch the children enjoy this age old recipe over all the Italian soups!

4. Bruschettas

Toast a few slices of bread and drizzle with chopped tomatoes, onion, basil and cheese. Simple enough, if you can help in the chopping of the onions. Children over 10 can safely prepare this dish for when their friends come over.

5. Zeera aloo

Plonk some ghee in a non stick pan and drop zeera and hing when it splutters. Then add boiled and cubed (previously by the mother) potatoes and salt toss them around a bit. Five minutes  later.. serve with showering praise from parents and family.

You child will blossom into a confident teenager knowing he/she can cook their favourite dishes by themselves. It will give them several notches of height when talking amongst their peer group too!