Monday, February 28, 2011

Paneer Pulao & other adventures in the kitchen

Friday night I was reading through Tarla Dalal's recipe book on Rice dishes & Chellu came to me to ask what I was reading. I told her my intention to cook something from the book and asked her what she would like to eat. She immediately chose Paneer pulao ( she loves paneer) from the choices offered. She then expressed her interest to cook with me and we proceeded.

The moment I said yes she turned into this excited, full of enthusiasm, fully-charged person! Its so obvious in kids- they never hide their emotions and its never hard to find out if a kid is interested in something or not. They show it too obviously!!!

I read the recipe for her & and for myself ..she asked for explanations of words like  " saute", " thaw", " steam", etc..We then started cooking the dish. She got out all the veggies , condiments & other stuff from the fridge, cut the tomatoes , onions & green chillies, washed the corn, thawed the paneer & took out the required rice . She put all the stuff into the cooker while it was getting cooked and just loved the aroma from the cooker. She kept saying " yummy, yummy"  just from smelling the stuff. Then afterwards helped me clean the platform and put all the stuff back in its place. Ofcourse needless to say the pulao turned out  very very yummy and we had a very satisfying dinner. Satisfied with the taste of the pulao and with the experience of making it. As for chellu she seemed very pleased withe herself and kept telling kunju that she was the one who made it. Kunju ofcourse seemed very impressed and kept saying "Mmmmmmm..." while eating..It really made me laugh!!!

Being in the kitchen is very very exciting for kids. Its a highly sensory experience for them and kids love anything that's sensory. They want to touch, feel. smell, taste, hear all the time and in a sense the kitchen provides  for all these sensory experiences.  Chellu knows a lot about food in general- the spices, the vegetables, ingredients of certain dishes etc..She loves playing the blindfold & smell/touch/ taste game with things from the kitchen. She will always guess most if not everything correctly. I guess its also about being involved in everything that goes about in the house. I read in a book called "Positive Discipline" that children get a big kick out of being given reponsibilites that adults also take up in the house. They don't want to be sidelined to " children" activities like clean-up your toys..They want to do what we do....Its basically about being involved, thus having a sense of belonging.

Today in the morning she said a big yes for chikoo milkshake and very very swiftly got out the chikoos , peeled them, cut them, helped me pour the milk, took out the elaichi and pounded it ..Her sister added the sugar and a yummy milkshake was soon ready!! Chellu then divided the milkshake into "equal" amounts for the three of us. As always the look on her face said it all....;)) Same thing for lunch. I said "Pav-bhaji" and the sisters immediately dragged their  stools to the kitchen to get into the action. Chellu pulled out all the vegetables and then cut the potatoes, cauliflower while kunju worked on the capsicum & some onions till her eyes started to water!!  Then for someone reason Chellu's stomach ache started again and she herself said she coudnn't continue...
I am always amazed at how adept the girls have become with cutting with a knife. In most households children are never allowed to handle the knife but in mine I've seen that actually they hardly cut themselves & if they do its very very minor- they themselves don;t react to it. They are capable of handling a knife and cutting beautifully! Initially I thought that its probably Chellu alone who has this skill but now Kunju does the same & Im starting to think if all children are capable of handling a knife very carefully...My belief was further ratified when I attended Jinan's workshop on how to learn from children..He had shown videos of rural children cutting, sawing, hammering etc with not a hint of fear or injuries...

When we include children in our cooking/kitchen it becomes a different ball game all together. Its no more about "Im cooking" & "Don't disturb me"  but lets all cook together. It certainly brings the family together ! I have started to love cooking with my kids ..just enhances the HSing experience and they learn a lot for sure. For starters their tactile skills are stenghtned like crazy, they learn about food/ veggies and the best part is the one on one conversations..Its like being with them /spending quality time with them, yet not doing a child-activity..And once we start allowing the kids into the kitchen so many new ideas prop up. Like one day, I had been to the local market & bought a lot of veggies ( to avoid running short of beggies since Shankar is in the US since Jan). We sat together and spent a good 45 mins just sorting them out. Since I had got a lot of beans type of stuff like french beans, ladies-fingers, gavaar, peas took them quite some effort to figure out what belongs where and do the sorting. Isn't this a valuable educational activity? Sorting out similar shaped, similar colored objects into different catogories? Then Chellu proceeded to count  all the bigger veggies..She asked me how many kilos I had bought of each vegetable and then by counting kinda saw how many tomatoes consititute a kilo..Then the sisters helped each other in collecting each category of vegetable and putting it into ziplock bags and loading the same into the fridge. The whole activity took us 1 and 15 mins or so..I bet they learned a LOT !! And I too got a huge chunk of work done....;))

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