Like many Indian expatriates in the West, I try to figure out how I can make food both Indian and international, so that my little one will be willing to try a variety of foods when she crosses the ponds. It also has to fit in with what I can make at home without additional gadgets or too many ingredients that’ll only see the light of day when they enter baby’s food.
Several weeks ago, February 13 to be exact, R and I decided to go for a pre-Valentine’s dinner, baby in tow. We went to a cute little Turkish place that we’ve always walked past. Through the front window, one can see a lady sitting in front of a big convex pan, rolling and roasting things. Finally, we decided to check it out. We ordered a starter combo with hummus and others in it. M was eyeing our plates, but we hadn’t given her chickpeas by then, nor lemon. I made the executive decision that it’ll be a Valentine’s treat for her. She loved it so much that we ordered a full plate of it. And she loved it. I watched apprehensively to see how her system will handle the double whammy. No sign of indigestion (chickpeas) or rashes (citrus). Whew! What a relief! And, one more dish to add to her growing repertoire of foods. I had considered making hummus many times in the past but was somehow intimidated. But bubs liking it called for action.
I made it. It was so easy. And this morning, I was chatting with a family friend who was making lunch for her granddaughter. An Indian expat in the US. When I mentioned that M had hummus for dinner yesterday, she asked me how I made it. I told her how, then realized that there would be other clueless moms like me, trying to get their kids to eat healthy and get them accustomed to international cuisines while having no experience of cooking the same. Thus far, if I wanted hummus, I bought it.
This post is dedicated to such moms the world over. I don’t measure out what I put in dishes because I strongly believe that the more natural an ingredient is, the harder it is to have the same flavour across samples. I will write out an approximation however, and should be adjusted based on your/your baby’s preferences.
Chickpeas (dry) 1 cup
Cumin 2 tsp
Sesame seeds (optional) 1 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil (to smoothen the mixture)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
1. Soak chickpeas overnight. This can be stored for 2-3 days in the frig. before the next step.
2. Drain and cook with fresh water until soft. I use a Futura Pressure Cooker, and this translates to about 10 min after full steam. Drain and retain some of the water separately. Note from a friend: This can be stored in the frig. for up to a week, when stored in its own cooking water and some lemon juice squeezed in. She’s from Pakistan’s Punjab, and I bet she knows what she’s talking about. But I wouldn’t store it at both stages 1 and 2 for that long esp. when cooking for baby.
3. Grind cumin seeds.
4. Add sesame seeds and grind to a fine paste using extra virgin olive oil as the smoothening medium.
5. Add cooked chickpeas. Grind with extra virgin olive oil and cooking water until smooth and thin enough for baby to eat.
6. Squeeze lemon juice to taste.
Note: There is no salt or chili spice in this recipe because it is for a baby. I would add salt and cayenne pepper for myself. As also, roasted red peppers or roasted eggplant (or neither). I could add red peppers for M too, but I haven’t given it to her yet, so I shall wait until I have. My mum told me not to introduce eggplant yet because we have a family history of allergies to it. Nothing life threatening, so I eat it anyway, but why discomfit a baby’s system!