Most of the time our son eats exactly the same as us for dinner, or at least a couple of the components of it, and always has done. It probably helped he started eating solids in winter so we kept a steady supply of roast vegetables for him if what we were having didn’t quite work, but those occasions have become less frequent.
Now and again, though, we have a hankering for a spicy curry (like a Goan fish curry or Thai red curry) and we haven’t quite got him on to those yet (although he does like non-spicy curries as I expect will be shared at some point). On these occasions I break from the norm and give him something different. That said, I hate the thought of spending much time preparing a separate meal but I still want him to have something tasty and good for him. I also prefer that it isn’t so different from our meal as he does like the idea of having the same plus I don’t want him thinking he can opt out of what he is offered too much. Since in many cases when it might happen, it’s a meal where I’m making rice for us anyway, a great quick and easy side dish of rice with vegetables and coconut milk is my default toddler version.
The exact contents vary depending on what I have, but usually it’s basmati rice, carrot, zucchini/courgette and a little spinach if I have some, but I have swapped in pumpkin, arugula/rocket and finely chopped broccoli. To both add flavor and give a better consistently I add a little coconut milk but if I don’t have any open or am not putting some in our dish, I always have creamed coconut in the house so use a little of that plus a little water. The coconut helps save the vegetables clumping too much and makes it easier to eat as it sticks together a bit, as well as giving it a great taste. I prefer to add a little at the end rather than cooking the rice in coconut milk as I know would be more traditional, as I think the consistency is better once the vegetables are added and you get the nice creaminess without it being too sticky. Plus you end up using a lot less coconut milk so it’s better for you (not that it’s bad but it is a little fatty).
Rice with vegetables is something he has eaten since before he was a year old and it remains a favorite. It is also good as a quick lunch using leftover rice and works well even out and about as the coconut and vegetables help it hold together to not go everywhere too much.
Anyway enough of how good it is as a toddler food, it’s also good for grown ups. You could add a bit of leftover chicken or beef to bulk it out a bit, or possibly some chick peas for a vegetarian version. It makes a great side dish as well – it would work well alongside an Asian curry, especially Thai/Malaysian style cuisine. Here’s the recipe, which is intended as an approx toddler portion but obviously scale up or down according.
Rice with vegetables and coconut milk
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 carrot
- 1/2 zucchini courgette, or less if larger
- 1 handful spinach (only if you have)
- 1/3 cup cooked rice suggest basmati, or a little less
- 2 tbsp coconut milk approx, or a little less
- Warm a little oil in a small frying pan over a medium-low heat.
- Meanwhile, grate the carrot and zucchini/courgette with fine side of the grater, then add to the pan.
- Heat for a couple minutes, stirring regularly, so that vegetables soften.
- Finely cut spinach and add to the pan, if using.
- Add rice to pan, stir so that vegetables are well mixed through the rice and the rice is heated through, just a couple minutes.
- Add coconut milk and stir through. The rice mixture should be slightly moist rather than swimming in the coconut milk.