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leena shares three recipes

by Leena D. Saini

Thailand/Malaysia/Southern India
Makes about 1 cup

This is a fast and flavorful curry. The saffron lends a lovely fragrance and ochre color but can be omitted if you don’t have it. For a heartier curry, add ½ cup cooked diced potatoes.

½ cup coconut milk
1 ½ cups no-sodium chicken broth or water
Pinch ground turmeric
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch Spanish saffron threads, optional
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
½ cup diced cooked chicken, optional

Make: In a 1-quart saucepan, place coconut milk, chicken broth, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron (if using). Bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Add vegetables and cooked chicken (if using) and lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until vegetables are cooked and flavors have come together. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Serve: For babies younger than 9 months, puree in a mini food processor. Leaves as is for babies over 9 months old. Serve warm with fragrant white or brown jasmine or basmati rice.


Dominican Republic
Makes about 3 cups

Habichuelas con dulce (pronounced “ah-bee-chweh-lahs cawn dool-seh”) traditionally is served in many Dominican households during Lent and also as a food for babies. This baby-friendly version uses a bit less milk and sugar than the original; the sweet potatoes and raisins lend natural sweetness. And it’s packed with nutrition—protein and fiber from the beans and vitamin A and beta-carotene from the sweet potato.

1 cup dried kidney beans
2 tablespoons unsulphured raisins
½ cup peeled and diced sweet potatoes
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves

Prep: Pick over kidney beans for small stones and detritus and then rinse. Place in a bowl with a generous amount of water and soak overnight. The next morning, drain beans and discard liquid.

Make: In a 2-quart saucepan, place beans, 4 cups water, and raisins. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, adding water if the level over the beans drops to less than an inch, for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft. Toward the end of cooking time, mash beans with a wooden spoon or potato masher.

In a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring sweet potatoes and enough water to cover them to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and steam for about 7 to 10 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Drain and set aside. Transfer cooked beans and potatoes to a mini food processor and puree with a little water to achieve a thick, souplike consistency. Use a strainer to remove pieces of skins and other solids. Return strained mixture to pot and add coconut milk, cinnamon, and cloves. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, until mixture reduces a bit and is creamy.

Serve: Serve warm or at room temperature.



Makes about 4 cups

Yogurt is a traditional Afghani condiment and ingredient, often made fresh at home every few days. It’s used in kadu borani (pronounced “ka-doo bore-ah-nee”), a side dish made by frying pumpkin (kadu) with a sweet tomato sauce that is served topped with garlic-mint yogurt (borani). You can substitute any squash for the pumpkin, or use canned puree.

2 small sugar pumpkins (about 2 pounds)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Roma tomato, chopped
3 fresh mint leaves, chopped, or pinch dried mint
1-2 thin slices peeled fresh garlic
Pinch ground coriander
2 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt, for babies older than 8 months

Prep: Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove pumpkin stems. Cut pumpkins in half and use a spoon to scoop out seeds. Cut each pieces in half again and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until soft and fork-tender. Let cool and peel skin, which should come off easily. Puree pumpkin and a few teaspoons water in a mini food processor or blender.

Make: In a 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add tomatoes and sauté for about 5 minutes, until saucelike in consistency and beginning to turn dark red.

Serve: For babies younger than 8 months: Add pumpkin and mint to tomatoes and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Let mixture cool, then puree in a mini food processor. Serve at room temperature.

For babies 8 months and older: Add garlic and coriander to tomatoes. Sauté for 5 minutes, until mixture is reduced to a thick sauce. Add pumpkin puree and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Top with a dollop of yogurt and a pinch of mint. Serve warm.


Recipes excerpted from Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food by Leena Saini. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.


For more ways to spice up baby and toddler food, please visit me at www.masalababyfood.com or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/masalababyfood

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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