Monday 20 February 2012

Food that bites

Tijm stirs his sauce. ‘Curry,’ he says. ‘Jummy.’
‘Go on,’ I encourage him. ‘Not just the rice.’
He spoons a big spoonful into his mouth. For a while he chews happily, then his mouth turns into a skewed grimace. He spits out the curry.
‘Don’t spit it out!’ I say, annoyed. ‘Swallow it.’
He shakes his head. ‘But mama, it hurts my mouth.’
Linde licks her spoon. ‘Ouch. It bites my tongue.’
Tijm agrees, it bites.
Eve Jasmijn, who eats anything, looks flustered and shakes her head.
I taste some myself. I enjoy the fruit, the sweet, creamy coconut. Then it hits me, viciously the curry stings my tongue. Delicious. For me. I fell for it again, the jar of cayenne pepper. Just the tiniest whiff spices any food flaming hot. I make a mental note to push the jar to the back of the spice cabinet. Never, ever to use again for the kids. I rush to the kitchen to save the dish. From the fridge I get yoghurt and sweet mango chutney. I stir it in, generously. With small, sparing bites they try again. And eat piles of white rice.

But still, also for kids who don’t like it hot you can cook spicy food. Most will love aromatic spices like ginger, coriander, cumin and cinnamon, especially when made extra sweet with fruit. Just be careful with the chilli!

Easy & mild apricot chicken curry

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 large teaspoon each of dried coriander, ginger, cardamom, turmeric and cumin
3 cm of fresh grated ginger
300 g chicken, of quorn chicken pieces
1 aubergine
1 lime, juice and zest
handful of green beans
2 carrots
1 tin of tomatoes
200 ml coconut milk
1 tin apricots in juice

Chop and fry the onion and garlic and add the spices. Add the chicken and fry for a few more minutes. Add the carrot and beans, both in smallish pieces, and fry some more. Then add the tomatoes, coconut milk and lime zest. Let cook until the vegetables are cooked, around 15 minutes. Add some water when it gets too dry. Chop the aubergine in pieces of just over a cm an roast them in a dry frying pan. Add the juice of half a lemon and season well. Finally add the aubergine to the curry together with the apricot pieces. Add some apricot juice and lime juice to balance the sweetness and season to taste.

You can vary this recipe easily. For instance by using mango instead of apricot, or by using other vegetables, like squash or courgette. If you do like it hot, add a red chilli.
Serve with rice and a raita of cucumber, yoghurt fresh mint and coriander.


  1. That looks delicious! I will try it. My kids love sweet, Japanese-style curry (we used to live in Tokyo) and are also keen on foods that taste strongly of ginger and garlic. They are just like yours, though, in that they won't touch chilli or pepper...

  2. Oh, that japanese style curry sounds nice. I love japanese food (and the country, met my husband there!). Do you have a recipe?

  3. Looks good! We eat a fair amount of curry and the other half likes it incredibly spicy. I tone it down for me and the toddler but she likes it a lot hotter than I actually thought she would!