Spice is nice (except on your tongue – apparently)

After four years of vegie-smuggling, I think I now have a way to get almost any vegie into my kids. Obviously some dishes are more popular than others, but my kids also realize each night that what you get is what you get and if you’re hungry then you just have to eat, since having a whinge and complain isn’t going to get you anywhere.

So what I’m working on now is pushing the boundaries on the spice front. Mr Meat & Potatoes is no problem at all. I can already see him as a drunken young adult ordering a curry or kebab with chilli sauce. Miss Fruitarian, however, is another story. She just can’t handle anything too spicy on her tongue. This is a bummer, since you can’t really hide spice, can you? Something is either spicy or it isn’t.

Usually I just make dishes like the pho that I can just add heat or extra spice to after I’ve served out the kid’s portions, but I’m also on a mission to get her to suck it up and handle of bit more flavour and heat. My starting places are mild tandoori chicken dishes and coconut cream curries. But to be honest, I get to add such insipid amounts of curry paste that my best friend and I are never too awestruck by these culinary adventures.

I do like this chicken curry recipe though. It’s based on one in Bill Granger’s Everyday cookbook. I like his family cooking. Unlike the boring-as-hell Tania Ramsey books, which are full of smiling photos of… err…. Tania and the odd recipe that my kids would just NEVER eat, you get the feeling that Bill actually DOES cook for his kids and isn’t just cashing in on a safe market.

So it was a Bill’s recipe where I saw this slightly unexpected mix of Indian and Asian flavours that results in something mild enough for fussy kids but interesting enough for the grown ups (especially with some coriander over the top). And of course it doesn’t hurt to serve this with pappadums – another lure ingredient.

I’m on the lookout for recipes to move onto after this one – ones that push the boundaries just a little further. Make sure you let me know if you’ve got any you enjoy.

vegie smugglers chicken curry recipe

Passing on a love of curry comfort



Gentle chicken curry

1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
1–2 tsp cumin powder
1–2 tsp coriander powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
500g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, cubed
1 cup finely diced pumpkin (little 5mm cubes)
1 zucchini, finely diced (peeled first if you prefer)
400g can chopped tomatoes
¼ cup water
2 tsp brown sugar
Juice of ½ lime
Handful green beans, ends trimmed, sliced

To serve
Steamed rice
Cooked pappadums
Chopped coriander (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Fry the onion for 4–5 minutes until soft. Use a quantity of spice that will suit your family. Add the spices, garlic and ginger for a minute before adding the chicken. Stir and brown for 2 minutes then add the pumpkin and zucchini and continue stirring for another 3 minutes until the chicken is brown and the vegies are starting to soften.

Add the tomatoes and water. Cover and bring to a simmer, lower the heat and simmer away for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Add the sugar, lime juice and beans and stir through for a minute or so (I like my beans nice and crunchy). Serve with rice and pappadums. Sprinkle with coriander (if using).

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

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14 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Renee Mills said,

    i myself cant handle spicy foods either but recently had chicken korma and it was nearly as spicy as I predicted and I managed to eat it maybe try that.

  2. 2

    Laura said,

    Chow Mein Mince works in our house. AND it smuggles cabbage……..

  3. 3

    Antonia said,

    I agree with Laura’s chow mein advice. Mine also love san choy bow – I think the novelty of wrapping food up in lettuce leaves helps. I have also found a great range of curry pastes called “lushdelights”. They have some very mild flavours like tikka masala, butter chicken and korma. They are sold at the Noosa farmers markets, or online at http://www.lushdelights.com.au

    • 4

      wendyblume said,

      Will investigate those pastes. My kids happily eat all Asian flavours so long as there’s no chili but it’s the stronger Indian flavours that I’m urging them towards. Am making progress… Slowly.

  4. 5

    Jill said,

    Our kids quite happily eat curries – it’s good for them to learn that spicy doesn’t have to mean hot – just interesting tastes. We often top them with some yoghurt and toasted nuts, generally almond slivers or flaked almonds – helps balances out the flavours.

    • 6

      wendyblume said,

      Yoghurt is a good idea. That’s reminding me that my mum used to serve beef curries with a banana/yoghurt side dish and lots of peanuts and sultanas to sprinkle over. And fruit chutney of course! Funny – I’d totally forgotten.

      • 7

        becky mcclure said,

        My Grandma used to make the most amazing Malaysian curries (she lived there for years) and they came with a big platter in the middle of the table with pineapple, banana, peanuts, sultanas, ryita (yoghurt, mint, cucumber), hard boiled egg, mango chutney. the curry was hot, but even as a child i loved is as the freedom to top it with all these other things and make my own creation was too inviting! of course rice and poppadoms too! love the sound of this curry !

      • 8

        wendyblume said,

        gosh, i love love love the sound of such a convivial gathering! I don’t eat from a central platter with my kids enough. must do it more (although I find the mess they make so frustrating!!!)

  5. 9

    Darralyne said,

    My kids also have an aversion to anything spicy “Too ot Mummy”. Hubby and I are also getting a bit sick of bland food, so I took a risk one day and cooked one of my personal favourites, Pork Satay Noodles, from the Delicious “5 Nights a Week” cookbook. I reduce the amount of chilli, use satay sauce instead of satay paste (Fountain brand is good), and leave out the peanuts for the kids, and it is always a winner in our house.

    • 10

      wendyblume said,

      Yes, I can push the boundaries on stir fries without any fuss. I like the sound of the satay sauce – haven’t tried that one – sounds like a good quick, tasty one to have in the cupboard.

  6. 11

    jennyblume said,

    Butter chicken seems to be a popular kids’ dish, along with tandoori chicken. Perhaps it’s the bright pinky-red colour that draws them in?

  7. 12

    Anna said,

    Thanks Ms VS, we had this for dinner this evening and Miss Fussy ate it with only the smallest amount of coaxing and even better, Miss Fussy’s father commented on how yummy it was. That NEVER happens! Thank you 🙂

  8. 14

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