Introducing kids to Indian food can be such an important part of their upbringing. Besides the numerous nutritional benefits of home-cooked, veggie-packed Indian meals, it also teaches them about their culture. This big list of 50+ Indian recipes that kids will enjoy will come in handy as you look for easy meal ideas that the whole family can enjoy.
It was very important for me that my kids experience Indian culture through food (along with the values, language and festivals). Everything from ingredients (lots of turmeric and chili powder!), to the method of eating (sometimes without cutlery), serves kids well to learn about their heritage.
My youngest is still one, so she has been eating a lot of wholesome vegetarian foods such as khichdi. She has also been enjoying all the food we eat regularly, just with a little less spice.
I believe in giving toddlers and preschoolers these same options. Just make sure the food is bite-sized, so they can pick or enjoy easily. Small pieces of paneer or chicken, and mildly-spiced curries work well. It may help to take a portion out for the kids separately, and then add heat in the tempering. I do this a lot with dals.
Most of the recipes I've included are healthy, one-pot recipes which are easy to make, and perfect to include in lunch boxes. Many of the vegetarian recipes I've included can be made vegan with simple ingredient switches. In other words, this post is bound to contain at least a few recipes that fits your schedule, kid's diet, and tastes!
Tips to get your kids to enjoy Indian Food
Involve kids in cooking
My older daughter loves to help me make roti (indian flatbread), and chop fruits & veggies with her Kid-Friendly Knife. When you include kids in the cooking process, they are much more inclined to eat the food, and even enjoy it!
Adjust the spice level for kids
Many times it happens that the kids don't eat Indian food as it is too spicy for them. For such cases, I suggest to skip or reduce green chili pepper and/or red chili powder used in any recipe.
I totally get that you don't want to be cooking separately for kids and adults in the house. Who has the time for that?? My simple trick in this case is to initially make a curry or dal less spicy. Take out a portion for kids and then add spice with the addition of red chili powder just by itself or along with tempering, especially in case of dals.
Note for the adults who love spicy food in the house: We have also been using the Chili Onion Crunch from Trader Joes on top of dal. Also don't forget the variety of Indian pickles that are a great way to add spice to your meal. Here is one of our homemade favorites - Ginger Chilli Pickle.
Let the kids feed themselves
I understand that many times Indian food can be hard to pick and eat for the kids. They don't always understand or want to scoop the curries or dals in the roti/paratha and khichdi/rice can be hard to eat for themselves initially.
Here is what I try to do for the little one, I scoop the curry or dip the roti in dal and then leave bites on her plate. So she gets the opportunity to feel and pick the food herself. If it is possible, then keep bites sized pieces of the paneer or veggies in her plate. eg. okra (bhindi), taro (arbi), beans. I love this suction plate that sticks to the table.
For rice, I do have to feed the one-year old with a spoon. She is already showing interest in using a spoon, so hopefully we can change that soon too.
Young kids want to explore food and are willing to try. But as they get older, they might not be as open to trying new things. At this time, it is the parents are their role models. Even if we don't like a veggie, if we are willing to take a few bites (maybe for the nutritional benefits), the kids might be willing to try too.
Below I am sharing lots of ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and sides.
Indian Breakfast Recipes for Kids
Dhokla is easy for kids to enjoy, as they can be cut into small bite size pieces. I skip the green chili in the dhokla batter and tempering when serving to kids.
Poha is another kid-friendly Indian breakfast- I am yet to share my recipe for it.
Indian Lunch/ Dinner Ideas for Kids (Vegetarian)
Khichidi's typically have a soft texture and mild flavors, making them perfect for young children to enjoy. Below is the basic moong dal khichdi, also called pongal in South India, and mixed vegetable khichdi with lots of added veggies. Kids love it along with dahi (yogurt).
The difference between dals and curries is that curries are often heavily spiced. However, you shouldn't let that stop you from introducing them to your kids; simply reduce the amount of chilis, garam masala, and any other spices you feel will deter your kids from enjoying it.
Paneer is favorite with almost every child, because of the bite-sized pieces and different preparations.
My older daughter enjoys the below frankie plain with just the paneer and chaat masala stuffed in the roll. She is not fond of adding onions and peppers yet.
This one is definitely a winner and popular with kids, because of its mild, creamy texture.
Kids love potatoes, so here are a variety of stir fry or curries with potatoes. Some combine various veggies with potatoes such as green beans, or spinach.
There are so many types of indian dals (lentils) to serve kids- all can be served with rice or roti.
A variety of curry recipes
I suggest to reduce the spice in the below Pav Bhaji recipe. Kids love the buttered pav, and dipping it in the bhaji!
Okra (Bhindi) is my older daughters favorite, and hence I have many different preparations for it.
The following recipes contain different types of beans. Beans are full of protein, and therefore very filling, making these dishes perfect for quick, healthy, kid-friendly meals. My daughter loves all of them, and often asks me to make them.
Pair the below black chickpeas with Poori and Sooji Halwa for a divine combination. My daughters fave for sure!
Here are couple of one-pot rice and grain recipes that your kids will enjoy. Adjust down the spice to their taste.
Indian Meal Ideas for Kids (Meat)
I have included mostly mild chicken curries that my daughter enjoys. She does get the craving to each chicken about once a week and asks me to make it!
Indian Side Dishes
The favorite indian side dishes are the classic flatbreads - roti and paratha. I have included the basic recipes below. I often add leftover dals or chopped spinach or fenugreek to the whole wheat dough to increase the nutrition of the roti/paratha.
Stuffed parathas such as Aloo Paratha or Paneer Paratha are often the most kid-friendly version of this side.
Below are simple rice side dishes I typically make along with a curry or dal.
Yogurt or Dahi is an absolute favorite for kids. Make it fresh at home, it is so much tastier and also cheaper.
Indian Snacks for Kids
I am so glad my daughter has come around to enjoying Vada Pav. She skips the chutneys, but enjoys eating the vada stuffed in buttered pav.
Friday dinners are often pizza in our house. You can vary the topping to your choice. This one is easy and kids enjoy the paneer topping.
You can stuff the below puffs with potato (reuse the potato stuffing from the Vada Pav) or paneer or mixed veggies.
We make the below taro fries as a side too. They are very much like French fries that kids love!
Sharing here a few international recipes that kids enjoy:
- Mexican Rice & Beans Casserole
- Couscous & Vegetable Pilaf
- Gnocchi in pesto sauce
- Penne in tomato cream sauce
- Lemon Parmesan Orzo
- Vegetable Lo Mein
- Carrot Soup with ginger
- Creamy Tomato Soup
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Chickpea Squash Fritters
I hope these recipes help you find some authentic meals that your kids will enjoy, and that they grow up loving their culture and the wonderful flavors of Indian food.