If there was ever a doubt that cooking is more than just a means of providing sustenance, the evidence lies in my mother’s hands. She is an excellent cook, who filled our childhood with delicious and mouth watering memories of homemade cakes in her special sand cooker, paneer, snacks and munchies,
colorful fruit trifle with all the freshly available seasonal fruit, jams & jellies of pineapple, grape, mango, and (gasp!) papaya too! She was an innovative, resourceful and smart cook, who always used locally available fresh ingredients and created unique and healthy recipes of them.
My mother got this particular cereal recipe from one of her best friends more than 30 years ago, and she passed it on to so many new parents in and outside our family and every one of them gave her their thanks and said it helped their picky and skinny baby put on a little bit of weight and grow more healthy. My heartfelt thanks to my mother and to the main source of the recipe, Mrs. JY!
Here, I wanted to provide a little more scientific proof of the “healthiest” part of the ingredients and did some research and yes, this is hands down the HEALTHIEST, MOST NUTRITIOUS and the BEST food for a baby, using just 8 ingredients! Say bye-bye to commercial baby cereal. So here’s how you make it:
1. Millet or Millet Flour- 200gm
2. Whole Wheat or Whole Wheat Flour-200gm
3. ParBoiled Rice/ White Rice (not Basmati – use Sona Masoori) – 200gm
4. Barley or Barley Flour – 100gm
5. Sabudana (Tapioca Sago) – 100gm
6. Peanuts – 100gm
7. Cashews -8 pieces
8. Almonds -8 pieces
How to Prepare the Powder:
- Wash all the ingredients [except cashews and almonds] and dry them in the sun for a day or two.
- Take each ingredient [including the Cashews & Almonds] and dry roast it on a very low flame in a shallow pan, while mixing it constantly.
- When it starts giving out a nice aromatic flavor, you can remove it from the pan and keep aside to cool.
- After they cool down, mix them together and grind them into a fine powder.
- Store this mixture powder in an airtight box and use as needed.
How to Prepare the Cereal:
- Take 1/4 cup of water and add 1 Tablespoon of the mixture into it. Mix well so that there are no lumps in the “soup”.
- Add a dash of salt or sugar if you prefer.
- Now bring this “soup” to boil on a very low flame. It just takes 4-6 minutes for the mixture to be ready.
- The most important step to remember is to keep stirring constantly to avoid forming lumps (kind of like preparing custard!)
- You can prepare it in whatever consistency you need – some babies like it runny and soupy, while others like it chewy! Add more water if you want it soupy or boil a little longer if you want it chewy.
- Switch off the stove, let it cool and feed the baby!
Important Points to Note:
- You do not necessarily need ALL the ingredients mentioned here. you could start off a small batch with whatever is readily available and improvise for the next batch.
- You can also add roasted and powdered lentils for an extra dose of protein and folate (brain food!)
- If possible, use whole grains for your recipe, as they have more nutrients and fibre and are less processed.
- If you are using flour, you can still dry roast it lightly in a pan (without oil).
- When you roast the ingredients, it increases the shelf life of the mixture and makes sure you don’t get a ‘musty’ smell after a few weeks.
- You should store it in an airtight container, in a cool dry place but preferably in the refrigerator if your home is warm.
- Technically, this mixture has a shelf-life of almost 6 months to a year, but it is advisable to use it within a month or two while they are still fresh.