OK, so I guarantee that 905 of parents reading that title will be saying something like “curry? You have got to be joking, we are still trying to get them to eat pasta with anything but pesto” Well you would not be alone but bear with me here because it may well be worth it. Almara Miah of the Zari Indian Restaurant in Crawley actively works with kids to teach them how to cook and enjoy Curry and they even offer a kids Curry menu…that kids really eat!
There are a lot of reasons why curry as a broad church of food is a good thing for kids to get into. The first is their palette, basically the flavours they get exposed to at a young age do really have a knock-on effect on how they perceive food later in life. Being able to try new things and deal with unusual flavours is really important if they are going to grow up to have an enjoyable relationship with food and curry is a great resource of new and exciting flavours.
The second reason is, that despite the reputation for a being a drunken meal only one step up from a kebab I think we all know the Indian food can be packed full of veggies, protein and a list of healthy herbs and spices as long as your arm. Even just the presence of turmeric is worth getting kids eating it alone. But when you throw in things like garlic which has many health benefits, cinnamon, cumin as a brain booster and coriander as a natural anti biotic and you are really cooking!
Thirdly, we all love the idea of a family meal but finding something the grown-ups like as much as the kids can be quite hard. Curry may well be the answer, homemade or as a takeaway treat. Imagine a table with lots of breads, chutneys, different kinds of rice and curries all laid out for everyone to dip into and try out…it has to be better than parents working through another plate of spag’ bol’ no matter how well it’s made.
So there you go, three really good reasons to get kids into curry.
But How Can I get them to Eat It?
Well, first of all, it should go without saying that avoiding spicy curries is pretty important. Hit a kid with a vindaloo once and they won’t touch curry again for many years. But Indian food isn’t always about being hot, in fact, it is very much a British thing to make them so hot all the time. There are loads of exciting flavours that don’t involve any heat at all. The problem is, kids are afraid that it might be spicy and that really puts them off. So, engage them during the cooking and show them there is no chilli in it as a key step forward.
First of all, use turmeric, it is super mild and mixed with some cream, chicken or Quorn chunks with some peas and rice it can make a simple and tasty first dish. Next, try moving onto to some ground coriander powder in there too. You can cook some chicken or veg with tomato puree and some mild curry powder to make a basic mild curry but try adding some fruit into the mix. The kids will love the sweet punch some chunks of pineapple will give things or even apple. Also, don’t forget the humble spud! Most kids love a potato and it is a great staple in curry mixed with some chickpea and a few spices.
Get Them to Cook
While you can try and serve these basic Indian dishes up for the kids you will find they are far keener to eat something if they have cooked it. There is a whole raft of simple easy cook curry ideas online that the kids can really help with. Mixing spices into a bowl of potatoes and yoghurt for example! Then plate it up with some Indian bread and sweet mango chutney and see how they get on…you may well be very surprised.
Do It When They are Really Hungry
One of the big issues with kids eating is that they are often not that hungry despite us telling them they should be. If you want to push their flavour limits do it when you know they are ravenous. Perhaps after a swim, or a big walk gets it on the table when they are clamouring for food and the hunger will outweigh any misgivings they have.
Not So Simple
OK so it sounds easy and it really may not be. But take it easy, don’t force it and make sure they don’t end up purposefully resenting all curry because they had to eat some one day. If they don’t like it, say well done and move on. Give it another go in a months’ time, kids change all the time and so do their tastes if we don’t put them under the spotlight too much.
When it comes to a family meal curry is perfect because you can make a kids’ dish the adults can have a spoonful of alongside an adult dish the kids can have fun dipping into and trying. You will be surprised how brave they can be with spice if it’s on their terms…seeing them run around laughing and drink water to cool down can be a lovely site. Good luck!
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