Because my youngest daughter Ally was born in Malaysia some of her first solid foods were curries! After telling the stories of her young childhood in Kuala Lumpur I felt the need to justify this strange (what some of our friends call a lapse in parenting skills) with some facts regarding spicy foods for babies.
Some pediatricians agree that from around four to 10 months of age, babies are remarkably open to new flavor sensations, and are able to enjoy a wide variety of interesting tastes. If you are able to offer something a little different, more likely than not, your baby will be game enough to give it a try.
Sheila and my daughter Ally in Kuala Lumpur
I found out by accident one day when I returned home early and found our Indian housekeeper Sheila feeding Ally curry potatoes. She was eating it like ice cream and with far more gusto than she was ever eating the jars of Gerber peas or carrots!
I am convinced that one of the best ways to encourage your child to have a wide and varied palate is to feed her or him a good range of interesting and flavorful fresh ingredients from a very young age. Now at 21 Ally is an adventurous eater for sure after traveling the globe we me and now she is also interested in becoming a chef.
Babies can eat curry, but don’t be tempted to share a vindaloo or your takeaway (however mild) with your baby. A fragrant and mild korma or pasanda (without nuts) is a good first choice. Either prepare it yourself or check the packet ingredients.
We moved to Thailand from Kuala Lumpur and her culinary experience expanded as she got a bit older. There is a wide range of herbs you can introduce your baby to, such as coriander, parsley, basil, dill, chives, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika. Steer clear of chilli; it is too strong to give to a baby.
Here is Sheila’s “baby” curry recipe.
Vegetable Coconut Curry
1tsp olive oil (Sheila of course used Ghee)
Half a small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
Pinch each of ground ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric
2 tsp. tomato purée
1 small potato, peeled and finely diced
1tbsp beans, such as lentils or butter beans
2 tsp. desiccated coconut
50 ml water
A dash of coconut milk
Sheila used a Wok I guess since Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of cultures the mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines made her cooking style unique. Heat the ghee in a small wok over a medium heat.
Lightly fry the onion and carrot until soft. Add the spices and the tomato purée and heat for three minutes, stirring continuously. Put half the mixture in a bowl and set to one side.
Add the potato, beans, coconut and water to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. She then gently mashed the potatoes and mixed in the vegetables, adding extra water if required.