A few days ago, I logged into my emails and was met by this request from a long time reader:
My son is turning 6 in a couple of weeks and all he wants for his birthday this year is to have a sleepover with 3 of his best friends. While I’ve already planned a trip to his favourite fast food joint with his friends for lunch on his special day, I’m so confused on what to cook for them for dinner. My son is quite adventurous when it comes to food and will generally eat pretty much whatever I offer him. I’m not quite sure about the others though. I’ve spoken to their moms and was promised that neither of them are fussy eaters, but I’m still a bit nervous about cooking for growing boys. I know that I can never go wrong with pizzas or burgers, but honestly, I’d like to serve them something more wholesome and healthy. Also, Indian flavours will be of high priority since two of them are not too fond of continental food. Please HELP!
Thanks in advance,
Well Shilpa, what can I say… I hear ya!
Since the last few months, we’ve had quite a few playdates at home for Baby Dear. It works splendidly for us since we get to entertain our friends and the kids get to create havoc (or play, as they like to believe) in the comforts of our home. Cooking for these kind of get-togethers started out as being a challenge for me, but I’ve learned to get quite creative with my menus. To begin with, I never wanted to have separate menus for the adults and kids; unless of course, I had planned something extra spicy. Baby Dear has always eaten the same food we do, sometimes, if needed, adapted to suit his taste and liking. When cooking for young kids, here’s one thing I like to keep in mind always: Anything and everything, even nuggets and burgers, can be made healthy for kids to enjoy. I make these Tandoori Chicken Pops in the form of nuggets and they’re always enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
Pasta is usually a hands down winner with kids and can easily be customized to suit anyone’s palate. I love to add a variety of veggies and forms of protein to up the nutritional value of the meal. You can easily experiment with different flavours and cooking styles and come up with a recipe that your friends and family will enjoy. I recently served this Indian-style Spaghetti at a recent casual dinner I hosted. It went superbly well alongside a large mixed salad, some crusty cheesy garlic bread and a whole lot of wine. For your son’s dinner though, I’d advice skipping the wine altogether!
Here’s what I suggest you serve your tiny guests and the special birthday boy for dinner:
Tandoori Chicken Pops (made in the form of bite-sized nuggets)
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Indian-style Spaghetti (recipe follows)
Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake (a birthday calls for cake every day of the week!)
I’m sure your son and his friends will enjoy this recipe. Its packed with protein and veggies, and if you use high fiber whole grain pasta, then its as healthy as can be. Here’s wishing your little man a very happy birthday!
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 25 min | Serves: 4
2 tbsp light cooking oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 large tomato, finely chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
500 gms ground meat (I used chicken)
2 cups frozen mixed veggies, thawed
1 pack whole grain spaghetti (cooked according to package instructions, drained and set aside)
Heat oil in a large wok and sauté onions and garlic till lightly browned and fragrant. Add in spices and tomato paste, and fry for a few seconds.
Add in the chopped tomato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes to combine well. Stir in ground meat, and let it cook covered for a few minutes till it cooks through.
Add in veggies and mix well. If the sauce is too dry, you can add in a bit of water to thin it down. Now toss in the spaghetti, and stir-fry to combine well with the sauce.
NOTE: For a gluten-free version, simply opt for gluten-free pasta instead.