Ethiopian cuisine is full of flavor and fun with plenty of veggies, soft, bite-sized pieces and a hands-on approach which would encourage children to consume more vegetables. Meals are served on injera, a spongy flatbread made from the gluten-free whole grain, teff. Pieces of injera are helpful to scoop up thick vegetables or meat stews (called wats or wots). Ethiopian food is nutritious, healthy and a great platform to introduce children to new flavors and teach them about another part of the world at the same time.
Kids are immensely attracted to Ethiopian food as it requires to only use your hands. Though a tad messy sometimes, it is the perfect finger food. To learn more on child-friendly finger foods, have a look at the website www.firsteatright.com. To add to the already existing positives, onions, garlic, tomatoes and eggplants which are not typical kid-friendly veggies are usually cooked down making them almost untraceable.
You can ask your kids to come together to make a quick injera. Injera, which cooks up like a pancake, requires no real baking. The entire process is entertaining, educational and creates a memorable meal experience with the kids.
Injera has a slightly sour flavor and a different texture and your child may take a little time to get used to it. Dietitians/nutritionists recommend parents to let kids experiment with injera to pick up stews, sampling a few different dishes. For a totally different taste, make injera chips by baking leftover injera brushed with a little olive oil and sweet or savory seasonings.
But remember, some of the Ethiopian foods are really spicy, especially those with red pepper spice, berbere. Introduce these foods slowly to your kids, maybe one food at a time, as kids’ taste buds are quite sensitive. While eating at a restaurant, order dishes that have the menu labelled mild and choose them.
Try your hands on these kid-friendly dishes:
Starting from chicken doro wat to chunky tomato salad, Ethiopian food is the best way to introduce your child to a nutritious and fun-filled way of eating healthy foods at his/her fingertips.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.