It is one of those trying times when the kid refuses to eat almost anything offered to him, that you hit rock bottom as a frustrated mother! There are of course exceptions to their don’t-like-anything phase: Mac ‘n’ cheese! Seriously?? That orange sticky gooey ‘stuff‘? It was after one such tantrum that I hatched this evil (read ‘noble’) plan to cheat (not really) my kids with something that slips down their throats with minimal effort, yet get them to eat their veggies. (I know, they could thank me later!)
So I found my answer in semiya or vermicelli, a form of thin noodles used widely in Indian dishes like semiya upma (savory) and kheer (sweet porridge). This simplified version of the recipe worked for me. And I could see the mom-evil-laughter behind my matter-of-fact straight poker face! The pleasure of outwitting your kids by making them eat what you want them to: priceless!
Recipe Outline My standard simple recipe is driven by three factors:
1) Nutritious: enough fresh veggies per serving. My staple – broccoli, celery and carrots. Might add tofu at times for protein. Nuts added at times.
2) texture should be buttery and slimy
3) flavor should be just the right mix of salt-pepper-ghee. Neither too hot/spicy, nor bland.
That said, once the vermicelli is roasted in ghee, you could add any veggies you would like to experiment with, as long as the final product doesn’t lose the texture or taste suitable for kids.
3/4 cup vermicelli
1 cup broccoli cut in small florets
1 cup diced celery
1 cup peeled, grated carrot
1 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
-1/2 to 3/4 cup tofu. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp honey mustard, pinch of pepper.
-1/4 cup Crushed nuts- cashews and or almonds and or walnuts.
-Some shredded cheese (currently the Mexican Taco seasoning cheese is a household favorite).
-Some ghee before serving.
1. Cut vegetables, crush nuts, squeeze out water from the tofu, crumble and season. Set aside.
Put 1&1/4 cups of water to a boil in the microwave at step 5.
2. Add ghee to a thick bottom pan. Add some crushed pepper followed by vermicelli. Roast on a medium to low flame until the color changes to light brown. They could quickly burn, so be fully attentive and keep stirring.
3. Once brown, add nuts and roast for a minute.
4. Add all the veggies and roast another minute.
5. Add the boiling water, salt and cover. Reduce the heat to medium low and let it cook for 5 minutes for el dente.
(I would add a little more water and cook slightly longer when my younger one didn’t have many teeth. Would also powder the nuts then). If there’s still some water left, cook uncovered for a minute of so until it evaporates.
Vermicelli is ready.
6. Mix in the seasoned tofu to the pan now, if you’d like. (No need to ‘cook’ tofu, but you could mix in and cover to let it sit for a minute in the steaming vermicelli.)
7. Add some ghee and / or shredded cheese in the plate before serving.