“The days are long, but the years are short.”
~ Gretchen Rubin
I think the above quote sums up parenthood (motherhood, in my case) just about perfectly. The countless sleepless nights, never-ending tantrums, spilled food, the tears that seem to come suddenly out of the blue, the endless reasoning and chastising – all of it did seem overwhelming and interminable when I went through it with the bub as a toddler. However, there were also innumerable sloppy kisses, toothless grins, tight hugs, endless cuddling up, reading, visits to the park, baby talk, playing peek-a-boo, dressing up, pretend cooking and what not. These were the good parts, which kind of balanced out the overwhelming bits.
Looking back, I wonder at just how quickly time has passed – the bub is 4 already! I remember a lot of the moments, the memories, we created together, a few of the not-so-good times too. But, really, I wonder, should I have just hugged her, cuddled her, coddled her, a little more, focused a little less on the imperfections? How long will it be before the bub is no longer a small girl, and will no longer want to be held or hugged? 😦
Toddlerhood – the time when a child is between 1 and 3 years of age – is a precious phase. This is the time when kids are at their most notorious, driving their parents up the wall every so often – yet, this is when they are at their most vulnerable and adorable best. This is also when the time when they are exploring the world around them, food included. They are slowly learning to navigate the world, understand what they like and what they don’t and, as parents, it is our duty to help them do just that. In terms of food, toddlers should be exposed to a variety of finger foods – stuff they can easily hold in their little hands and eat on their own. This has a number of benefits, from improvement in gross and fine motor co-ordination and sensory integration to improved bonding with the parents and a deeper sense of ‘home’.
This week, the theme at Foodie Monday Blog Hop is just that – #ToddlerFingerFoods, as suggested by Poonam from Annapurna. For this theme, which is super close to my heart, I decided to prepare pretty Cocktail Idli Flowers, naturally coloured mini idlis arranged into flowers. I have added pureed beetroot, carrot and spinach to home-made batter, to create three different colours of idlis. This has always been a favourite with the bub and when I made it again for her last week, she happily gorged on them all over again.
Let’s now see how to go about making these coloured mini idlis, shall we?
Ingredients (makes about 70 mini idlis of each colour):
- 3 cups idli batter, separated
- Salt, to taste
- 10-12 large spinach (palak) leaves
- 1 medium-sized carrot
- 2 pinches of turmeric powder
- 1/4 of a medium-sized beetroot
- Fresh coriander, as needed
- Capsicum, cut into sticks, as needed
- Oil or ghee, as needed to grease idli plates
1. Take 1 cup of idli batter in three separate mixing bowls. Keep it tick, without adding any water to it.
2. Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly under running water. Ensure no mud or dirt remains on them.
3. Bring about 1 cup of water to a boil, and add in the spinach leaves. Blanch the spinach – let the leaves stay in the boiling water, on high flame, for 1 minute. Switch off gas, and transfer to a colander. Let all the water from the spinach drain away. Allow to cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, peel the carrot and beetroot. Cut them into large-ish pieces, separately.
5. Pressure cook the carrot and beetroot separately, with a little water, for 3 whistles. Use very little water. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
6. When the blanched spinach has completely cooled down, chop it finely. Grind it in a small mixer, with a little water. Add the spinach puree to the idli batter in one of the mixing bowls. Add salt to taste. Mix well. Keep aside.
7. Drain out the water from the cooked beetroot. Chop finely. Grind to a puree in a mixer, using very little water. Mix the beetroot puree to the idli batter in the second ball, along with salt to taste. Mix well. Keep aside.
8. Similarly, drain out the water from the cooked carrot. Chop it finely, and grind to a puree using a little water. Add the carrot puree to the idli batter in the third mixing bowl. Add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix well. Keep aside.
9. Grease mini idli plates with oil or ghee and keep ready.
10. Spoon a little idli batter into each cavity of the greased plate, one colour at a time. Steam for 12 minutes. Allow to cool down a bit and then remove the cooked idlis.
11. Arrange the idlis in the shape of flowers on a serving plate, warm or at room temperature. Decorate them with sticks of capsicum and fresh coriander. Serve immediately.
1. Don’t add any water to the idli batter. Keep it thick, since you will be adding pureed vegetables to it later.
2. You may add a little ginger and green chilly paste to the batter too. I haven’t.
3. While chopping the cooked veggies and pureeing them, make sure the colours don’t mix. Do the chopping and grinding one vegetable at a time, washing the knife and mixer thoroughly in between uses.
4. Since we are grinding very small quantities of veggies here, use the smallest jar of the mixer.
5. Add very little water while grinding the cooked veggies, otherwise the batter will become runny and the idlis will not turn out well.
6. You can serve these mini idlis with sambar, chutney or podi of your choice, but they don’t really need any accompaniment.
7. I have used a gas-based mini idli cooker to steam these colourful idlis. It is a time-consuming and laborious affair, indeed, to make them, but the end result is totally worth it. You may use ordinary idli plates with big cavities to steam the idlis instead, too.
8. Don’t steam the idlis for any more than 12 minutes. First, let the water in the idli cooker base come to a boil, then place the plates with the idlis on, and cook for exactly 12 minutes. More than this, and the idlis stand a chance of becoming hard.
9. You may add a couple of pinches of baking soda or Eno Fruit Salt (plain) to the batter, just before steaming. I haven’t.
10. Allow the steamed idlis to cool down slightly before removing them. Otherwise, they’ll be too sticky and might lose their shape.
11. 70 idlis of each colour might seem like a very large number, but I’m talking about very small, ‘baby’ idlis here. An adult can easily have 20 of these at a go, at the very least.
12. Any leftover mini idlis can be made into a stir-fry or upma the next day.
This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is #ToddlerFingerFoods.