“That’s pumpkin seeds, frozen banana and peanut butter! We’re going to make smoothies and ice creams” announces a rather excited anika smiling all around. Her enthusiam is rather contagious!
When letsstalkfood walked into the kitchens at FRENCH TOAST, ten of the tiniest cooking enthusiasts you ever did see were busy chopping up a variety of vegetables in the best julienne style they could and wetting up rice paper to make some fresh veg rice paper rolls. There was a mise en place station lined with colourful bowls filled with vegetables and herbs.
When KIDCHEN founders SANAA and JALAJA gave root to their project, little did they expect the kind of response and encouragement they would receive! Kidchen, a Bangalore based venture was brought about to inculcate a sense of culinary adventure amongst children. A variety of activities organized by Sanaa and Jalaja help children discover ingredients, flavours, much needed kitchen skills and the best of all, love for good food. “Helping kids develop a healthy attitude towards food is quite important to us” shares Jalaja.
The goodies on the menu were VEGETABLE RICE PAPER ROLLS, BANANA ICE CREAM and a healthy version of a FREAK SHAKE! Quite a handful for these little ones you might think but my god did they do a stunning job! Under constant supervision from the founders, the children, chopped up the vegetables (some even jumping up and down to name them all), wetted the rice paper rolls and quickly made lovely looking veg rolls. I asked a little Anitha for a bite of her perfectly made roll and she had this to say “I’m saving this for my mama!” How sweet!
Kidchen goes beyond cooking. It teaches children to create real meals with honest flavours. Children get to understand how different foods tastes, develop their science, math and motor skills; but most important of all, they learn how to work together, giving each other space and helping each other out. “At Kidchen, we encourage children to be curious about where their food comes from. Instead of restricting them, they have an opportunity to measure, chop, knead, whip, roll, count, grate, mix, follow instructions and lick their fingers” says Sanaa. Everything that I saw first hand!
Children are generally termed as being fussy eaters. This is probably because food has not been introduced to them in a delightful manner. Most children are made to sit in front of a plate of food and forced to finish every last crumb. This method might earn an empty plate but it also brings about a disinterest in understanding what makes good food and snaps the door shut on any culinary journey the child might go on. Kidchen aims at bringing children into a one on one mode with food and giving them control over their meals. Today the average amount of junk food children consume is alarming and Kidchen, with their workshops aims to create a dent in the growing trend. Cleverly incorporating vegetables and other healthy food items into forms they love, say spinach chips or carrot hummus is the kind of way this venture wants to go.
After the rice paper rolls were done, the children with utmost pride, cleared their work station themselves; mopping up any spilt water, throwing refuse into the bin provided and preparing themselves for the next dish. Sanaa lines up a few dishes on the work station and proceeds to tell the children about what NUT BUTTERSare. There were peanut, sunflower seed, cashew nut butters and the children were allowed to taste them all to determine what nut butter they liked the best (My favourite was the cashew!).
Soon, the children chopped up bananas (using plastic knives) and guided by Jalaja, each of them had a go at the food processor. After the bananas were mashed up, they quickly placed them in the blast chiller to ready their banana ice cream! Then in wee bowls, more chopped banana was added and each child selected their favourite nut butter to mix in. Milk was poured in and the contents blitzed to mark the beginnings of the freak shake!
The anticipation around me was absolutely palpable! While some of the tots filled their glasses with the shake, the others rushed to get their ice creams out of the chiller. How they jumped for joy when they discovered that it had achieved the perfect consistency! Sanaa and Jalaja then showed the kids how to decorate their glasses. The children skilfully lined their glasses with nut butter, sticking on delicious bites of caramel popcorn and pretty pink desiccated coconut. The delight on their faces was simply adorable!
There was such a sense of accomplishment and thrill that I unknowingly became part and parcel of the happy banter! Many of the kids saved their precious ice creams, shakes and rolls to share with their moms and dads and this gesture was simply wonderful. I think more than cooking skills or acquiring a love for food, children also learn the beautiful art of sharing.
The moment the parents walked in, the children ran to them holding up their prettily decorated glasses. How proud both parents and children were. I was so glad to have been part of that deliciously precious moment! I had the opportunity to speak to a couple of mothers while they enjoyed the treats their little ones had made for them. When asked about what they thought of the concept behind Kidchen “Absolutely! I think it is brilliant! Let them know what food is all about!” said one mum as she happily downed the freak shake. And when asked about how the ice cream and shake tasted “Healthy and very nice! I wouldn’t mind giving these to my children often!”
Sanaa and Jalaja, what a fantastic initiative! As mother to a two year old who shows an inclination towards cooking, I can’t wait for the next Kidchen workshop in Cochin!
Sanaa is a writer, passionate cook and is mama to a gorgeous little one. Free time always finds her cuddling under a blanket with a bottle of homemade peanut butter!
Jalaja is a writer and biker who loves to explore places and its wealth of people, music, culture, cuisine and experiences. She is currently learning to play a trumpet!
Follow Kidchen on: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kidchenbangalore/
For enquiries on their next classes and workshops call: 9916660328, 9986663214