Christmas recipes : more joy for kids

Christmas and kids are kind of inseparable! Be it the Christmas tree with gifts around it or the tinsel on the tree and around the house, or be it the cookies, cakes and sweets stacked up on the table, it is the perfect happy time for kids! Along with cookies, gingerbreadmen, even candy canes are used to beautify Christmas trees. These candy canes were first produced in Germany during the later part of 17th century. They were white straight sticks bent in to look like a shepherd’s staff and were distributed to children during the holy worship before and advent of Christmas. After year 1900, the candy canes came in striped formats with red and white colours and flavours of peppermint or wintergreen. Some people also hold the view that the J-shape was used from the initial of Jesus and red and white symbolised blood and purity.
As sweet things are doing the rounds in every household how does one serve something that is filling for the kids. Getting hold of Christmas Recipes becomes all the more challenging. It should not only be fun but have to fulfill the importance of a balanced diet as well. Adults have to satisfy the perplex taste buds of kids while keeping them attractive so that the kids consume it without any fuss.
Make some visually attractive snack mixes keeping in mind the festive mood. It could be caramel popcorn with nuts, or coated chocolates, or coated peanuts etc. Have a cupcake party where kids can decorate their own! Make Christmas cookies in unique shapes and write their names on it. Go for finger foods, baked, grilled or fried. Savoury things are welcome along with the sweet so many things! Chicken fingers, wraps and rolls with sprouts, vegetables, paneer, cheese, egg can be enjoyed. Sandwiches the all time saviours can be made more exciting too by using different breads, different fillings. Try using large cookie cutters to give innovative looks.
As the ideas keep flowing, stop a while and try out some tasty bits like Tricolour Sandwiches, Paneer Frankies, Macaroni Mazaa….


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What’s healthy in today’s definition

We were at Landmark in Phoenix Mills on Friday for the launch of the new book Fun Foods for Fussy Kids. There was a question answer session and though it is difficult to narrate all that happened, let me tell you in a condensed form. The talk naturally veered toward what is healthy for kids. I have to redefine it as ‘what is healthy for kids today!’ Sure the lure of fatty foods like pavbhaji, pizzas, brownies with ice cream, cola floats, burgers and chips, fried chicken is very much present. If we deny the kids at home, they have means to go and eat out!! So the idea of the book is to give the kids what they want but stick to the basic fundamentals of healthy cooking. Yes, there are fried foods but foods fried in a known source of oil at home are not as bad as allowing them to eat (or even eating along with them) fried foods at fast food outlets. I have always stated that it is better to look underweight but be well nourished in your daily meals. Children who are over weight (height weight ratio according to age is a good parameter to calculate) are more likely to be less active than children who look thin and evoke pitiable glances from the other indulgent mothers. But let me tell you, sports people prefer to be on the thinner side…it gives them speed on their feet. Let alone kids, let us look at adults too. You can be fat and fit but then ‘fat’ is a definition that varies from country to country depending on the BMIs.
My point here is, let us feed our children the basic, the good ghar ka khaana. We ourselves have to deny ourselves the pleasures of fast foods. We ourselves have to set exemplary examples. I am proud to say that our daughters eat healthy meals at home and we also allow them to eat out with friends. We have to be alert and strike the right balance. The time is NOW.
In case you are wanting to look up some good recipes, let me share a few with you.
Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor

Jeet Gaye !

The cricket fever has caught up with Khana Khazana: we have our own team called Khana Khazana Spice Routers that will be playing the preliminary matches with other teams (a tournament being organised by Blue Sky).
Today we had one match and Alyona, Rajeev (COO) and myself had been there to cheer the team.
We played against the IOSians (IOS Relocations International). Some great instances of bowling and batting by my champion boys. As the match picked up, we all had goose bumps and our hearts were beating fast.. really fast.
We batted first and scored 50 runs in 6 overs. Then came the opponent team and it was war, we bowled them all out and we won the match by 22 runs today.
Indeed ! a splendid and wonderful afternoon spent with my proud team.
Tomorrow, there is yet another battle of cricket against a strong team and I am going to be there to cheer my Spice Routers. They have been practicing sincerely and I am sure we all are going to enjoy good cricket.
Let’s go for it boys !
http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/ has some lovely easy recipes for Mother’s Day that can be prepared by budding chefs. But in the worst scenario mothers can make this delightful kiddie stuff and bring joy and happiness to their young ones! You choose…also towing in line are some excellent Chinese stir-fries, noodles and rice recipes that will cheer up the daily menu to a great extent!

As is my endeavour always to give you some good ideas for the weekend, here goes:

Add the spark of fun, eating a light lunch

Here in Singapore with my assignment of Singapore airlines, whom I represent in panel for food in this part of the world, but have a little time to take up where I had left the blog the other day. They say all work and no play makes you dull. So to brighten up the ‘work’ atmosphere and to lighten up the work load we did something crazy the other day! Called the bhel wala in office and had a chaat party! Instant bhel, with no mess, to your liking, guaranteed fresh! And so filling too…. I am sure my team will remember this for a long time. Work continues on the photo shoot of the book for fussy kids and each composition is kid friendly.

So as lunch time approaches my tip of the day for summer eating! Yes, I remember. And by now the rate of downing glasses of water would have increased for all of you as the heat increases. But the digestive juices of the stomach have their own clock and let you know that it is lunch time, water or no water!

I suggest for lunch break – a colourful display. Take your pick and make choices. It’s agonising to make decisions when there is a plateful of thin watermelon slices as also a crunchy sprouted moong salad in a big bowl with a dash of lemon and the garnish of green coriander leaves. Sure is picture perfect. What should you do? Fill half a stomach with this. At lunch, the health gods say, fill the stomach three-quarters. So in the rest, (mathematicians would have calculated that only one fourth is empty) I would take a taste of a crisp pudina parantha sans ghee but with a little bowl of fresh yogurt, or take a skim off the saffron and spinach casserole which would be a gala tale of white sauce enveloping pasta, spinach puree, zucchini, broccoli, beans, fully flavoured with summery tastes put to the test in the oven. For those who prefer the fashionable ‘salad’ lunch try the Crostini creation made up of toasted bread flavoured with olive oil and rosemary playing hide and seek with slivers of summer beauties like tomatoes, cucumbers, coloured capsicums and lettuce. My favourite antioxidant salad is this one. Food like this, crunchy and healthy does help to fight the post lunch heavy eye lids.

Navratris have started – no onions, no eggs and no non-veg for next 9 days. Fasting, though a distant possibility, may happen on Ashtami and then gorging on halwa, puri and hare chane…..

Last assignment of the evening was meeting with our restaurant partner of ‘Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana’ of Dubai who specially flew down to discuss further plans. I am there in the first week of April for an event. Have lots in mind to do there.

In case you want visuals and recipes, here goes: Fattoush, Moong moth ka anokha salad, Pasta in Creole Sauce.

Happy eating!

Sanjeev Kapoor

International Women’s Day – my best wishes.

As the year marches ahead, there are some days, some occasions, some festivals that bring colour, good food and also a time to retrospect. I do hope you have had a chance to read Alyona’s first ever article for the website. I can say, very humbly, that a lady who looks after herself, will also be fit to look after the whole family. Alyona is the backbone of my family and I wish her the best in everything she does. My mom, and my little women Rachita and Kriti, I wish the same for you too!
Entire country was watching and waiting to hear the passing of Women’s Reservation Bill in the parliament today, but as has been happening for the last 14 years, today also it met it’s normal opponents and not seen the light of the day. A golden opportunity lost again!
As we prepare to get some food shots done for the book on recipes for fussy kids, let me tell you that the enquiries on how to get the little ones to eat are mind boggling! I am sure this book will be met with open arms…kids love food that looks good and for me presentation is paramount! I always think of the plate as an empty canvas that needs a pictorial representation. Most chefs prefer the classic white or earth tones as these complement all colours of food. Only recently have I started playing with coloured crockery as vivid as turquoise to offset maybe, a rich orange moist prawn preparation. I have also served hot spicy rasam in shot glasses!
It is easy to go overboard in garnishing the food. But the first rule of ‘keep it simple’ helps here. Garnishes are best made with edible items. Recently, we had to garnish a pineapple mousse. It was pale yellow, nearly cream in colour. Cherries are run-of-the-mill so we decided to use caramel art. Well, the sugar syrup went a little ahead than we expected and as the lights were set, the mousse ready to melt, we spun the sugar into wisps of sugar threads. Took a bunch and put it on the mousse. A bit of creativity is very satisfying!
The more popular garnishes like lemon twist or slice, cucumber twist, carrot juliennes, carrot bundle, spring onion whisk, red chilli flower, tomato wings and roses, chocolate and sugar craft can help you create some wonderful looking plates. Play around with two to three colours, never more, for it should be easy on the eye. Sauces also play a key role in dressing up the plate. Sauce can be served around or under the food and if you desire to pour it on top, pipe in thin ribbon form ensuring that the food is not hidden under it.
Presentation is the key to a successful dish. Here are my favourites:

Till I write again,

Sanjeev Kapoor.

Always create magic in the kitchen

The Wonderchef event in Bangalore went off well yesterday. Flew down to Delhi in a couple of hours from Bangalore. Only going to pick up Mom from Delhi and then back in Mumbai by late evening Saturday.

We have been doing trials with some recipes that use wine in cooking for the new magazine. New vistas for our kitchen, for sure! And food and cooking is like a cauldron of excitement that has no bottom. In fact if I am ever asked to do a survey on cooking I would choose the topic of daily cooking being a daily chore. To state the obvious, cooking is a daily job so it may be a daily chore and why not? Not every person loves cooking (so what if the same person loves to eat!) and rustling up meal after meal with ingenuity does call for a lot of efforts and planning.

It is to be pointed out that not everybody enjoys new things at every meal…once in a while it is a refreshing idea to serve a new creation or a variation of the same old stuff. So if you are ready, the following pointers will help to make the daily cooking/chore a daily adventure.

Any leftover vegetable like paneer bhurji, baingan bharta, aloo matar ki sabzi or even leftover pulao makes good fillings for stuffed tomatoes. Prepare an array of tomato cases, capsicum cases and onion cases and fill them up. Give toppings of breadcrumbs and grated cheese and let the tray bask under the grill for a while. A very sumptuous and colourful dinner dish is ready!

If your children are fussy about vegetables, why not pierce carrots, tomatoes, paneer cubes, onion chunks, capsicum cubes onto metal skewers and grill them. For more show of creativity make fancy shapes from the vegetables and then skewer them. Brush with salted butter before grilling. Season with salt and pepper or even chaat masala and serve on a bed of lightly flavoured rice. What looks good to eat will definitely find favour with the kids!

The repetitive combinations of dal chawal, roti sabzi, rajma chawal, idli sambar, dosa chutney, chicken curry and parantha, chole bhature can all do with reincarnations. Let us take dal chawal. Serve it by all means but after mixing it in a casserole dish and tempering with chopped onions and beaten yogurt. Garnish with chopped coriander. Roti sabzi can be altered by turning them into closed packets. Simply place some sabzi on one half of the roti. Fold over to make the round edges meet and present a semi circle. Seal the open ends with a little water and make indents with a fork all over. Lightly fry on the pan and serve with tomato ketchup. I am sure even the adults will find nothing amiss in this made up fare!

Making of Holi Quiz for mobile service providers was fun. Everyone in office participated. Lot of non sensical things, questions, debates….. but Indian festivals are like that full of fun and less of definitions.

There’s more in the pot for you! My three promises of getting something different on the table: Palak Lachcha Parantha , Chenna and Fruit Envelope, Penne and Vegetables in Makhni Sauce.

Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor

Wonderchef reaches Banglaore, Playing food-food with kids


If you reside in Bangalore then there is a chance of our meeting at the Wonderchef, a business venture of mine where our objective is to empower women and earn money in the process by selling kitchen gadgets and accessories through my recipe shows. To promote this activity and give a stimulus to my people working in Bangalore and neighbouring areas, I myself would be there to interact with you all at Grand Magrath Hotel, Magrath Road, Near Garuda Mall, Bangalore on 19th February, 2010 from 11 a.m. onwards. So if you are looking for an opportunity this well could be your chance to start your own enterprise.

Simplicity sometimes enthrals! Well, in all humility, it enthrals me at all times! Had this rice Amma our cook had made yesterday: Tossed long grain basmati with grated cabbage, grated carrot and thinly sliced capsicum with only salt and pepper. Lovely flavours and very fragrant. I have thanked her for this new recipe! This also is a reminder that our Vegetarian Rice Special Feature is on line on www.sanjeevkapoor.com

As the book on Fussy Kids is ready for the printing house I go back to your queries about ‘how should we make our kid eat vegetables’! In every home there would be one story or the other about how kids have an aversion to vegetables! One can well think of peas lined up on the side of the plate or better still finding their way onto the neighbour’s plate. One friend’s dad (in his early 60s) first fishes out the mushrooms from the baked casserole and back it goes into the dish. Then who can blame children!

One has to think smart and then act smart too. Says my friend who is a practising paediatrician, children who eat fruit may be provided with the same minerals and vitamins as vegetables.

Let me tell you that a bit of trickery can always get those vegetables onto the plate. A puree in the ketchup can often go undetected as also grated carrots in dark honey cakes. Often it is felt that the child is not eating enough. Little does it strike us that one child’s serving can be half of an average adult’s. As in most homes, there is one child at least that avoids a meal…for the simple reason that the snacking around the mealtime has ruined the appetite. Here a bit of discipline is required. A few children thrive on fried foods. With potato chips, french fries, burgers and other Indian fast foods like wadas and pav bhaji being favourites, the parent is often worried by the lack of intake of proper nutritious meals. A sensible thing would be to keep fruit handy, all cut up in plate, around the kitchen area if dinner is likely to be delayed. The hungry horde will reach out for the fruit and in the process avoid less healthier in-between snacks. If the general feeling is that fat intake is on the higher side then skimmed milk can be given instead of full cream milk. And, of course, there is this brigade that screws up every little nose at the sight of a glass of milk! Despair not for a slice of cheese or a cup of yogurt supplies the same amount of calcium. Then outsmart them…slip in milk in puddings, soups and cereals.

Another battle front is sweets and chocolates. Ban them and they will eat at the neighbours or friends at the sly. Hence allow a quota and then no more. Kids are copycats…if the elders refrain from sweets the kids will soon follow. In fact this holds true even for the meals and eating habits.

Our kitchen has dished up a lovely lunch for our guests today who are here to take the TV Channel work a little bit further: we are having Pimento and Herb Rice, Grilled Chicken with Two Mushroom Sauce, Vegetable Casserole, Assorted Breads and Fruit Trifle.

Would also like to share these “smartened” recipes that you can serve to your children: Sprout Bhelpuri, Baked Potato Wedges.


Till I write again

Sanjeev Kapoor.