Introducing pulses or dals to infants or toddlers ~ Tadka Dal!

I know mothers with infants and toddlers will surely retort to this dal every other day. When my daughter was 6 months old, Dad said it was time to introduce dal to her diet. Since she was the first baby at home, we were all very apprehensive on her intake and the food we give. Of course the feeling never changes. But with the twins, I was able to fall back on our experience. As Amma was cooking my daughter's lunch most of time, she created her own dal which my daughter used to love very much. We started introducing the dal water or the water in which the lentils are cooked, at about 6 months. Then slowly we introduced well mashed dals mixed with ghee and rice together. This was her lunch for many months. Then carrots, potatoes and beans were introduced slowly.

With infants, you should first introduce a little, see if they like it and then make it a part of their meals. You can give it as a mixed vegetable or as a single one at a time.The dal that Amma used to make for Konda, the same one that we latter gave to the twins, was the Tadka dal. Its a simplest way of cooking the toor dal and then seasoning it with few other ingredients. The resultant one is a perfect one to introduce a baby too. One just has to start with the basic one and improvise on it as the baby grows. I can still remember the way Konda's dal evolved!

Amma introduced every spice in a span of few months. It was a gradually improvement, which gives you time to understand your baby's taste and preference. First you start with just plain rice, well mashed with ghee and dal water. Pressure cook the Toor dal with lots of water. Just take the water alone and mix with rice. This can be given for a week or so, based on the baby's preference.

Till my kids were almost 18 months, this is how we did this dal.

Pressure cook 1 cup of Toor dal with 3 cups of water with a pinch of Turmeric and Asafetida.
Heat a tsp of oil in a kadai, add a pinch of mustard, then add few chopped onions. Once they sautéed well, add half chopped tomatoes.
Then add the cooked dal with 1 cup water. Bring to boil, add salt to taste.

You can add little of Cumin seeds and then slowly include 1/2 tsp chili powder as the baby grows.

Now my sons are 26 months and pretty much eat most of the dishes that we make at home. Still we fall back on this dal at times. They also carry a packed lunch box.

Tadka dal gets its name by the process of doing the Tadka, which means seasoned dal.

Tadka Dal

Toor dal - 1 cup
Water - 3 cups
Turmeric a pinch
Asafetida a pinch

For Seasoning

Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Onions - 1 small (very little)
Tomatoes - 1 small
Red Chili - 2 long
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Tamarind - 1 small piece.
Curry leaves - few

Method to prepare:

Pressure cook the dal till it is almost 90% cooked. Keep the dal aside and wash the cooker and heat with oil.

Splutter mustard, cumin seeds along with broken chilies, curry leaves. Sauté well. Then add the chopped onions, fry till its done. Then add the tomatoes. Cook for a minute.

Then add the cooked dal, enough water, along with salt and tamarind piece. Cover and pressure cooker for another 2 whistles or till the dal is well cooked.

Check to see if the dal is thin. When you serve the kids, remove the tamarind piece, chilies and mix with well mashed rice with ghee.

The way I normally do is, take the rice when its real hot, mash it with ghee. The aroma that comes out of this combo is awesome. Add the dal to the rice and mix well. The consistency should be thin, else the kids might have difficulty eating.

The above lunch box is what I sent my boys. I am planning to track and record what I send my kids so that it becomes easy for mothers with the same problem. Of course, this is a typical South Indian Lunch Box, but very suitable for any region!

It will be most interesting to know what you pack for your kid! Do share, I can have any many ideas as I can!

Sending this to Sunshinemon's FIC event, this month's being yellow!