Toddler Approved Indian Food

We have very diverse tastes in our household. During the week you'll find X and I cooking anything from traditional Chinese food and organ meat to Greek spanokorizo paired with vegan hot wings. We encourage Merle to also eat a wide range of food so we expose her to as many flavors as possible. X and I love Indian food, but it's one cuisine that we delayed introducing to Merle because it's usually too spicy for her. When we go to our favorite Indian restaurant, New Dehli, she eats her weight in their flavorful basmati rice (she LOVES it), but doesn't eat much else. 

This weekend I made a mildly spiced Indian dish with Merle in mind and she eat a full plate without help! It was somewhere between a makhni and a masala sauce and was flavorful without the spicy hot factor. Paired with my version of New Dehli's rice and a bowl of peas, Merle was happy to chow on this dish two nights in a row. Whether you're making this for your kids, or for someone who has an aversion to spicy foods, this recipe is a winner. For those who need the heat, add a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin when adding the turmeric.

Toddler Approved Indian Inspired Paneer
Serves 4 generously

1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp ghee (or butter)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic and ginger paste
6 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp wet tamarind (or chopped dates)
14 oz paneer*, cubed (or precooked meat or tofu)
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 Tbsp Garam Masala curry powder

Over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of ghee and sauté the onion with a sprinkle of salt until softened. Add in the turmeric, coriander, garlic and ginger paste. Stir to combine and cook for one minute. This helps unlock the flavor of dried spices. Add the diced tomatoes followed by tamarind. Use a wooden spoon to break apart any large pieces. 

As soon as the tomato juices begin to bubble, reduce the heat, put a lid on it, and simmer until the tomato begins to fall apart (roughly five minutes). At this point the consistency becomes more like a sauce instead of discreet chunks of tomato. Stir in the cubed paneer (or meat or tofu), curry powder, and ground almonds. Cook until the paneer is heated through, approximately ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve hot with basmati rice and your favorite Indian sides (naan, partha, samosas, dal, etc). 

*Paneer is a fresh cheese, sometime referred to as solid cottage cheese. It has little flavor on its own, but easily absorbs the flavors of sauces it's cooked in while retaining its shape.

New Dehli Rice
Serves 6

1/2 Tbsp ghee (or butter)
1 tsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp raisins 
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
3 cups water

In a sauce pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Immediately cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for thirty minutes or until the grains are al dente (softened but still firm).

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