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Smoked Aubergine (Eggplant/ Baingan) Bharta (V) Recipe - YouTube

This super-quick video shows you all angles of what my smoked aubergine bharta curry recipe should look like when cooked.

Definitely one of the more interesting ways to cook an aubergine! Cooked on an open flame on top of the stove, this aubergine bharta has a unique smokey taste. Packed with nutrients, aubergines are a great source of fibre, B vitamins and potassium - excellent for heart health, making this vegetarian (and vegan) curry a great meal for the family.

I’ve cooked aubergine bharta for my little one in the past as a baby-led weaning finger food which she absolutely loved - the recipe is in my Easy Indian Super Meals weaning and family cookbook, so I wouldn’t recommend this recipe for small babies. But now she’s older - year 3 (already!), I want to keep introducing new flavours to the family. So this smokey flavour I guess you could say was another new taste I offered my little one, or should I say older one!

This curry makes a lovely accompaniment to my Lamb, Saag and Aloo Curry. If you want to keep it vegetarian, serve alongside my Tandoori Potato Curry, Matter Paneer or Humble Dhal - Vegetarian and Vegan.

Serves a family of 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main meal
Total prep and cooking time: 25 mins

Ingredients
  • 1 large aubergine/ eggplant

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • ½ tsp ajwain seeds - lightly crushed

  • 1 onion - finely chopped

  • 2 green chillies - sliced down the middle

  • 1 tbsp minced garlic

  • 1 tbsp minced ginger

  • 2 tomatoes - chopped

  • 1½ tsp ground coriander

  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric

  • Salt to taste

  • Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • Handful of fresh coriander for garnish

Method

Pop the aubergine on top of the stove, sitting directly on the stove top burner. Switch on the cooker to medium/ high heat - the flames will go directly onto the aubergine and begin to char the skin. Turn the aubergine at regular intervals using tongs until the skin begins to blacken and look a little crispy. Once charred all over, remove from the stove and allow to cool.

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan and add the ajwain seeds, onion and whole green chillies. Saute until the onion is golden then add the garlic and ginger. Cook off the garlic and ginger for a few minutes and add the tomato, ground coriander, turmeric, salt and chilli powder. Turn to low heat and continue to saute until the tomato is mushed and a masala has formed. Switch off when cooked.

Peel the aubergine once cooled - the skin should come off easily. If there are any smoked bits stuck to the flesh, pick it off with a knife or pop the aubergine under the tap (that’s what I do - doesn’t affect the flavour)! Chop up the juicy the flesh and add it to the masala sauce in the saucepan, add the lemon juice and stir to combine well. Cook together for an extra 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh coriander and serve with either roti, pitta bread or naan, and a dollop of plain yogurt. Alternatively serve alongside one of my above mentioned curries.


Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks  The Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook: Easy recipes & meal plans to wean happy, healthy, adventurous eaters By Zainab Jagot Ahmed Easy Indian Super Meals for babies, toddlers and the family: new and updated edition By Zainab Jagot Ahmed   
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As a British Asian mum, I had certain goals when it came to weaning my baby girl:

1. Top-notch nutrition
2. Yummy flavours
3. Culinary heritage
4. Variety of meals

Readily-available baby food recipes covered my first goal - #1 nutrition. But they lacked in #2 flavour, and more specifically, #3 my culinary heritage. Honestly speaking, my little one would mainly be eating a South Asian based diet - so why wean her with tastes and flavours that were entirely different to our palate at home? Boggles the mind!

That said, I LOVE different cuisines - Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Turkish… the list goes on and on, but prepared with my own little South Asian cooking twists. So all of these cuisines made an appearance in my baby’s weaning journey to keep her palate broad, and to fulfil my second and fourth weaning goals - #2 flavours and #4 variety.

Weaning goal #1 goes without saying - nutrition was the most important to give my baby girl the best start in life. So all of the recipes I’ve created are nutritionally balanced and delicious!

Weaning goal #3 culinary heritage, is where this post comes into play. I created tons of nutritionally balanced baby-led weaning curries, to help my baby’s palate get used to the flavours I would regularly feed her when she was ready for the big table. And seeing as I get tons of questions from parents about baby-led weaning curries, I thought I’d pop the best ones into a post for you.

So here are my 21 delicious baby-led weaning curries - easy to prepare and nutritionally balanced. Perfect to introduce after first-tastes have been accepted, with some suitable for slightly older babies and toddlers. Keep it flexible - let baby stick her fingers in the curry sauce and lick her fingers, pick up tender pieces of meat, fish or vegetables and enjoy munching them on her own. You can even offer a spoon - whatever your little one is comfortable with. Just be sure to supervise your baby at all times to keep self-feeding safe.

Enjoy!

1. Mixed Veggies in Coconut Milk - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegan-friendly

Suitable from 7+ months, this delicious creamy curry is full of hidden veggies - parsnips, cauliflower, green beans and sweetcorn. Diary-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly, this curry is has a low allergy risk, and will help broaden a little palate. The creamy taste comes from the unique taste of the coconut - no cow's milk in sight. The coconut milk is also a source of lauric acid - known for its immune-boosting abilities. Try the recipe here - Mixed Veggies in Coconut Milk.

2. Sweet Potato, Apple and Dhal Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegan-friendly

Dhal (lentils) are a staple in many South Asian homes and are highly recommended for those following a strict vegetarian diet. The lentils provide a valuable source of protein that babies need for healthy growth, so vegan and vegetarian babies don't miss important nutrients from the protein-rich food group. Suitable for babies 7+ months.

This recipe is from my Easy Indian Super Meals weaning and family cookbook.

3. Veggie Korma  - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegan-friendly 

I love this korma! This baby food recipe was my daughter's first korma and quickly became a regular on our weekly meal planner. It’s simple, nutritious and another yummy recipe with the subtle naturally sweet taste of the exotic coconut. Coconuts are extremely nutritious - fibre-rich and a good source of vitamins C and E, B vitamins, iron and calcium. Try the recipe here - Veggie Korma

4. Zingy Pineapple Chicken - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

A fruity curry for baby - the key pineapple and coconut ingredients provide the delicious flavours of the Caribbean! Cooking with the chicken thigh meat (darker meat) in this meal means there will be higher levels of iron for baby to absorb. The coriander in this meal aids digestion and cognitive function. It's super-delish and another regular on the weekly meal plan. Suitable for babies 7+ months.

This recipe is from my Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook.

5. Lamb, Saag, Aloo Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

A hearty family meal rich in vitamin A (for a healthy immune system, skin and eyes); vitamin K (for healthy nervous system and strong bones), it's also anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and rich in iron. A real go-to comfort meal with oodles of taste and flavour! Try the recipe here - Lamb, Saag, Aloo Curry

6. Thai Chicken Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

A taste of yummy Thai cuisine for baby. The green beans in this curry are an excellent source of vitamin K, thought to play a role in building strong bones and assisting in blood clotting to heal wounds. Exactly what your little one will need when running around. Try the recipe here - Thai Chicken Curry

7. Sweet Fish and Fruit Curry - Gluten-free

A creamy, super-quick fish curry with just the right amount of sweetness and spice to tickle little taste buds without overwhelming them. This curry is protein-rich and packed with fruity superfood goodness from the apple, pear and banana. These fruits are rich in antioxidants and high in fibre, keeping little bowels healthy by preventing constipation. Suitable for babies 7+ months.

This recipe is from my Easy Indian Super Meals weaning and family cookbook.

8. Coconut Chicken Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

This baby meal is bursting with immune-strengthening ingredients. Fresh lemon and broccoli provide vitamin C, and the coconut provides a source of anti-viral fats to help keep cold and flu viruses at bay. In addition, the chicken is an excellent source of ‘essential’ amino acids (protein), required for healthy growth and development. Try the recipe here - Coconut Chicken Curry

9. Tilapia with Mango and Lime Sauce - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

Garlic, coriander, lime and mango - beautiful fragrant flavours to tickle tiny taste buds without over whelming them. This fish meal is sweet, tangy and protein-rich, excellent for healthy growth and for broadening little palates. Try the recipe here - Tilapia with Mango and Lime Sauce 

10. Simple, Humble Dhal - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegan-friendly

Most-likely the most cost-effective curry known to man! This simple easy dhal is super-cheap, protein-rich, quick to cook - ready in less than 30 minutes, and rich in fibre and iron. Oh did I forget to mention it's also DELICIOUS! A perfect side dish to any family meal. Suitable for toddlers 12 months and up. Try the recipe here - The Humble Dhal - Vegetarian and Vegan

11. Classic Keema Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

A mouth-watering traditional curry perfect as a first meat dish for baby. An excellent mixture of essential amino acids for healthy growth, starch for energy and yummy bright green antioxidant peas. Cook this curry with any meat you like! Minced chicken, lamb or beef are all good – using different meats will alter the taste of this curry considerably. Suitable for babies from 10+ months.

This recipe is from my Easy Indian Super Meals weaning and family cookbook.

12. Chicken Karahi - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

The ULTIMATE family go-to meal. Flavoursome and super delicious, this is a must for your weekly meal planner. My little one would happily pick up the chicken cubes in this yummy curry eat them as a finger food making this a great baby-led weaning curry. Try the recipe here - Chicken Karahi

13. No-fuss Tandoori Fish Curry- Dairy-free, Gluten-free

Tandoori masala is a fabulous spice blend! It includes all of the key aromatic spices, and a few extras, so is super charged with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. The delicious masala also gives the fish and potatoes a unique taste. Try the recipe and watch the video here - No-fuss Tandoori Fish Curry

14. Curried Lentils with Squash - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegan-friendly

Rich in beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), this meal promotes healthy eyes, skin and immune system. The dried apricots in this curry are a source of iron, and lentils are a good source of protein and iron, so this is a great baby-led weaning curry for vegan and vegetarian babies from 10+ months.

This recipe is from my Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook.

15. Matter Paneer - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Vegetarian

A South Asian vegetarian classic, matter (peas) and paneer, a commonly used unsalted full-fat Indian cottage cheese. Once only available in specialist Indian grocers, is now readily available at most supermarkets. Paneer is protein-rich and an excellent source of calcium, essential for building strong teeth and bones. Try the recipe here - Matter Paneer

16. Big and Small Kofta Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

The name of this kofta (meatball) curry was inspired by one of my little ones favourite CBeebies TV shows. And for obvious reasons – big kofta are for adults and older children, smaller kofta are for toddlers. Perfect little balls or protein-rich goodness your little one can easily pick up and eat with his or her fingers.

This recipe is from my Easy Indian Super Meals weaning and family cookbook.

17. Sweet Red Pepper Chicken Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

A sweet bell pepper along with garlic, ginger, onions and brown sugar form the unique curry sauce for this meal. Bell peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and B vitamins - great for growing babies! Pop a piece of chicken in between little fingers and let the munching begin whilst the rest of the family enjoy the same meal. Try the recipe here - Sweet Red Pepper Chicken Curry

18. Chicken and Saag Pasanda - Gluten-free

Spinach (saag), a dark leafy green superfood, is great for healthy eyes and boosting immunity, and is a good source of iron and vitamin K – essential for bone health. When teamed with protein-rich chicken, it makes a fabulously nutritious curry. Suitable for babies 10+ months.

This recipe is from my Easy Indian Super Meals weaning and family cookbook.

19. Thai Lamb Masala Curry - Dairy-free, Gluten-free

Family meal full of flavour and suitable for..

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**Sponsored Post**

Today feels like a paella day. The weather this summer has been simply marvellous! Best summer ever! I always cook my paellas with basmati rice. I love the texture of basmati, I find it really easy to cook and the fluffy texture is simply divine. I must admit, I'm far from brand loyal when it comes to rice. I always choose the rice on special offer in a bag big enough to last me a good few months. So when I was approached by Uncle Ben's to cook up a recipe using their Classic Basmati Rice (ready in just 2 minutes), I jumped at the chance having never tried Uncle Ben's rice before. Speedy healthy, nutritious family meals is what I'm keen on, so if I can save some time swapping out the traditionally cooked basmati rice, for 2 minute basmati rice, I'm up for giving it a go.

This one-pot mushroom and courgette paella recipe is adapted from my Garden Vegetable Paella family recipe in my Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook simply because I had to amend the cooking method based on using 2 minute rice. I've also added a few extras to make this recipe even more delicious, and MY GOODNESS it really is! My little one and the hubby were wolfing this down and after a full plate each, both went in for a second round. The delicious moreish flavour, combined with the usual chit-chatting at the dinner table made this a truly wonderful meal.

We love our mealtimes. Dinner time is family time. A time to eat delicious food, and spend time together - it really does bring us closer as a family. As this meal was such a hit, I will be adding this to my weekly meal plan.

Do give this recipe a go and leave a comment letting me know if you'll be adding it to your weekly meal plan too.

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, packed full of flavour and British garden vegetables, this meal is great for energy, protein, fibre and for filling up your hungry brood.

Serves a family of 4
Total prep and cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 x red birds eye chillies or green finger chillies
  • Large pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped, (plus extra for garnish)
  • 2 x vegetable stock cubes
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 250g mushrooms – washed, diced
  • 200g courgette – trimmed, washed, finely diced
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 2x 250g pouches of Uncle Bens's Classic Basmati Rice (ready in 2 minutes)
  • 1 fresh lime
Method

Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan (ideally non-stick), or a deep cast-iron pot. Toss in the garlic, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, birds eye chillies, saffron, turmeric and the parsley - sauté for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until a paste/ masala is formed. Then crumble in the stock cubes (I used Oxo because they are crumblier than others), add a splash of water, black pepper and salt to taste. Saute for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, courgette, peas, and stir well to coat the vegetable in the masala. Sauté for 6-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but still have a bite to them.

Press the Uncle Ben's pouches with your fingers to separate the rice, then tear off the top and add both pouches to the pot and stir to combine with the vegetables and spices. Add 4 tablespoons of boiled water (according to packet instructions), give the rice another quick stir, cover and simmer on low heat for 3 minutes. Once cooked, cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from both halves onto the paella, then stir gently. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the paella to garnish and serve.

 

**This post was sponsored by Uncle Ben's. However the recipe is my own, and this really is a super-easy, mouth-watering meal your family with love!**

Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks  The Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook: Easy recipes & meal plans to wean happy, healthy, adventurous eaters By Zainab Jagot Ahmed Easy Indian Super Meals for babies, toddlers and the family: new and updated edition By Zainab Jagot Ahmed   
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Due to popular demand I'm adding this healthy, low fat delicious fakeaway recipe to my blog. Complete with a homemade spice mix, this super-easy, quick Turkish Chicken Shish recipe is suitable for the whole family. Great for a lazy dinner, this family meal can be prepped in no time at all. Simply marinate cubes of chicken in yogurt and a few spices, let them work their magic, and grill for a few minutes until tender and juicy - in the kitchen, or on the BBQ. 

The chicken shish cubes, bell peppers, potato wedges and salad are all perfect for baby-led weaning. So a family meal and baby-led weaning meal recipe rolled into one!

Makes 6 large kebabs or 7 smaller / Serves a family of 4
Total preparation time - 10 mins/ 1 hour for marinating
Cooking time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts - cut into large cubes, fat-trimmed
  • 2 bell peppers - red and yellow - washed, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 red onion - peeled, halved, cut into quarters  

Spice Mix Marinade:

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 whole lemon - juiced, no seeds
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt (normal, reduced-fat or fat-free)

Equipment: Wooden kebab skewers - soaked in water for 30 mins

Method

Place all the marinade items into a bowl and stir well to make a creamy paste. Then pop the chicken cubes into the marinade and stir - I prefer to use my hands to mix it all together, the chicken gets better coverage. Make sure all the chicken pieces are well covered and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour, or as long as possible.

10 mins before you are ready to begin cooking, pre-heat the grill to medium heat, and begin assembling the shish kebabs. Take a pre-soaked wooden skewer, thread a piece of chicken, followed by a pepper, another piece of chicken, and a few slices of the onion. Keep going until the chicken, peppers and onion have been used up.

Place all kebabs on a grilling rack and brush with a little oil, or spray with low-calorie cooking spray and pop under the grill. Grill (or BBQ) for 20-25 mins until tender and juicy. You'll need to keep an eye on them, turning them over regularly. Once the chicken is well-cooked,  plate up and serve alongside a fresh side salad, and either soft fluffy rice - read my post Cooking basmati rice for babies, toddlers and the family for perfect soft rice every time, or potato wedges.

Finger Food - The Baby-led Weaning Part (12+ Months)

There are a few things you can do here to make this Turkish Chicken Shish kebab suitable for your baby. When combining the marinade ingredients, spoon out a little before you add salt and chilli powder and marinate a couple of chicken pieces separately.

When cooked, serve the chicken shish cubes as a finger food with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or for more flavour, my delicious Pear, Mint and Coriander Chutney

You can find more delicious weaning and family recipes in my cookbooks below. 

Enjoy x 

Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks  The Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook: Easy recipes & meal plans to wean happy, healthy, adventurous eaters By Zainab Jagot Ahmed Easy Indian Super Meals for babies, toddlers and the family: new and updated edition By Zainab Jagot Ahmed   
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Before your little one’s exciting flavour-led weaning adventure begins, there are a number of foods you should be aware of that will need to be avoided or introduced later as a precaution, as some can be harmful to healthy growth and development. 

Have a quick read of the 12 harmful foods and ingredients to avoid when weaning your baby, all of which are supported by nutritionists.  

1. Added Salt: Salt and high-salt foods (like stock-cube) should be avoided as it can damage a baby’s immature kidneys. Babies under 1 year old need less than 1g of salt per day, which they usually get from breast milk or formula.

2. Added Sugar: Babies are sweet enough! They don’t require any more sugar. Sugar can damage a baby’s growing teeth (even before the teeth have emerged) and lead to unnecessary and unhealthy weight gain. This does not apply to natural sugars from fruits, vegetables and in their usual milk. 

3. Honey: Occasionally honey contains a bacteria that can cause infant botulism – a rare but very serious illness. Avoid honey until after your baby’s first birthday, and even then, use it sparingly – it can contribute to tooth decay. 

4. Low-fat Foods: Fat is an important source of concentrated energy for babies and toddlers. Full-fat foods (e.g. milk, yogurt, cheese) are a must for baby until the age of two, after which you can think about introducing low-fat foods if baby is growing well. Be aware of higher sugar levels in low-fat products. 

5. Whole Nuts: (excludes Nut Butters) Whole nuts are a choking hazard so shouldn’t be offered to your little one until she is at least 5 years old. Peanuts and other nuts can, however, be introduced into a baby’s diet in either a crushed or ground form from the age of 6 months. Alternatively offer baby peanut butter or nut butters instead, as long as your little one is not allergic – note: some contain added salt and sugar. Be cautious: discuss the introduction of nuts into your baby’s diet with your GP or health visitor. If there’s a history of allergies, asthma, eczema, hayfever in your family, you may need to wait until later to be safe. 

6. Runny Eggs: Undercooked eggs may cause food poisoning (salmonella) so no runny yolks for baby just yet. Eggs are safe from 6 months but the whole egg (yolk and white) should be cooked thoroughly (your baby can eat eggs with runny yolks from 1 year). Eggs are also an allergen in some infants so keep an eye on baby when introducing egg for the first time. 

7. Shellfish: Undercooked shellfish should never be offered to baby as it can cause food poisoning. Ideally wait until your little one is older (7–9 months old) before introducing it, well cooked, to baby. 

8. Shark, Swordfish, Marlin: These fish contain high levels of mercury which can affect a baby’s developing nervous system, so avoid them. Offer oily fish instead: tuna, salmon or mackerel.

9. Wheat and Gluten: should be avoided prior to the age of 6 months as they can potentially trigger an allergy. 

10. Cow’s Milk: Avoid cow’s milk as a main drink as it lacks the right balance of nutrients for infants under one. Continue with breast milk or formula until your little one’s first birthday –  the amount will decrease as she fills up on more solid food and you can move to 500–600ml per day. It is then safe to introduce cow’s milk as a main drink but it must be whole milk only.  Cow’s milk is suitable to use in cooking from 6 months. 

11. Tea and Coffee: Caffeine not only disrupts a baby’s sleep but also reduces iron absorption, which can be detrimental to a baby’s health and can potentially increase the risk of anaemia. Offer sips of water with meals instead. 

12. Squash, Flavoured Milk and Fizzy Drinks: These drinks aren’t necessary for baby. They contain added sugar, which can lead to both tooth decay and weight gain. Offer sips of water with meals instead.

Read my article Must-Know: Achieve a Balanced Diet for Your Baby for easy to follow nutritional information, and general details on what you should be offering to your little one during the weaning journey. If you already know, head over to my yummy recipes and give them a go instead.

Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks  The Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook: Easy recipes & meal plans to wean happy, healthy, adventurous eaters By Zainab Jagot Ahmed Easy Indian Super Meals for babies, toddlers and the family: new and updated edition By Zainab Jagot Ahmed   
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Herbs and spices are wonderful! As well as being 100% natural, there are loads of yummy and unique herbs and spices suitable for weaning. Available in fresh, ground or dried varieties, most are safe to use as long as your little one isn’t allergic to them. The key is to start with just a little and build up from there. 

Pinning down the flavours of herbs and spices can be tricky – there are many levels of depth (for example, cinnamon tastes sweet, but has woody and warm undertones), making just one herb or spice a culinary adventure for your baby. Without wanting to overwhelm tiny taste buds, I’ve created an easy to follow One-Week Feeding Plan for safe introduction and quick transition to herbs and spices. Ideal age to introduce baby to herbs and spices is between 6 and 7 months of age, after first tastes have been accepted and baby’s digestive system is further developed.

Before you head over to my feeding plan, take a peek at my 19 first taste herbs and spices for weaning your baby. These are ideal to begin with and I’ve divided them into sweet and savoury herbs and spices. Should you wish to create your very own flavour-bursting combinations for your baby, the below will help you choose yummy, complimentary flavours for your little one’s flavour-led weaning journey. 

First Sweet Herbs and Spices

As soon as basic tastes have been mastered, the eight sweet spices and herbs below are great to start with - sweet, woody, floral flavours really lift the taste of purees. Cinnamon, vanilla and basil always went down a treat with my little one: 

  1. Basil - peppery, sweet anise
  2. Cardamom - sweet
  3. Cinnamon - sweet, earthy, warm
  4. Cloves - sweet, earthy
  5. Nutmeg - nutty, sweet, warm
  6. Ginger - sweet, warm, woody
  7. Vanilla (not essence or extract) - sweet
  8. Saffron - floral
First Savoury Herbs and Spices

Savoury herbs and spices offer another layer of flavour that will be new and exciting. These eleven herbs and spices all offer peppery, earthy, citrusy and smoky undertones, and are a great contrast to sweet herbs and spices. Some great first savoury flavours to try include: 

  1. Black pepper - peppery, earthy
  2. Chives - mild oniony
  3. Coriander - earthy, peppery
  4. Cumin - smoky, earthy
  5. Dill - citrusy, bitter
  6. Garlic Powder - savoury, caramely
  7. Mint - cool, fresh
  8. Oregano - earthy, spicy undertones
  9. Parsley - bitter, lemony
  10. Rosemary - earthy, piny
  11. Turmeric - bitter, peppery

Avoid spices with heat - cayenne pepper and hot chilli powder for example, until baby is at least 3 years of age. 

Feeding your little one sweet and savoury herbs and spices regularly is a great way to expose tiny palates to a variety of different flavours in everyday vegetables, meat, fish and fruit. In my experience, this variety helped broaden little taste buds and stopped fussy eaters from developing.  

Take a look at some of my yummy recipes here.

Supermarket Spices Blends

We’ve all seen the growing number of spice blends on the supermarket shelves. Whilst these look great, and convenient for cooking a Madras curry or a Tandoori BBQ, these aren’t quite right for early stage weaning babies. Spice blends are best introduced after 10 months as they are usually a combination of at least five spices or more, which may overwhelm a 7-month-old’s taste buds. Always check the label on supermarket blends to avoid added salt.

Spice Advice

Spices are available in whole and ground varieties. When weaning baby, you can use ground spices, or buy spices whole and use a pestle and mortar to grind them into a powder as required. Ground spices are quick and easy, but loose their flavour after a few weeks once opened. Whole spices, whilst requiring a bit more effort, keep their flavour for longer. So the choice is yours really. I keep both in my spice tin and use whichever variety I feel like using on the day. 

All spices you buy must be produced by reputable brands and sealed with a clear expiry date on the packet. If you are unfamiliar with spice brands, buy them from well-known supermarkets only. Once the packet is opened, store the spices in a clean, dry, airtight container away from sunlight, to ensure spices remain fresh for your baby.

Weaning with herbs and spices, also known as Flavour-led Weaning, can have a number of benefits for your baby. Read my article Life-Enhancing Benefits of Weaning Your Baby with Unique Flavours: Flavour-led Weaning.

Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks  The Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook: Easy recipes & meal plans to wean happy, healthy, adventurous eaters By Zainab Jagot Ahmed Easy Indian Super Meals for babies, toddlers and the family: new and updated edition By Zainab Jagot Ahmed   
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Is your little one ready for new and exciting flavours? Before you and baby jump into the flavoursome world of weaning with herbs and spices, also known as flavour-led weaning, I’d recommend following my one-week feeding plan below as a guide to safe introduction.

Weaving herbs and spices into the weaning journey is exceptionally easy! But it’s always a good idea to tread on the side of caution. I did exactly that when weaning my little one to ensure she was safe and suffered no allergic reactions. Whilst unlikely, it may happen so my feeding plan can help you keep an eye out for allergies and identify the culprit that may cause it.

Baby-friendly herbs and spices are fabulous! They’re all natural and add much-needed flavour to meals without the use of salt and sugar. When cooked, meals smell simply delicious. This gorgeous aroma makes our senses go ‘goo-goo, gaa-gaa’ and meals taste super scrumptious! And in my experience, it was the same for my little one and her little friends – they couldn’t wait to dig in!

Sounds Great! How Do I Get Started?

If your little one’s weaning journey is well-underway, and first tastes have been accepted it’s time to make meals more interesting. Between 6 and 7 months you can start ‘flavour-led weaning’ by introducing baby-friendly herbs and spices to your little one’s daily feeding routine, to help the transition from basic tastes, to basic tastes with herbs and spices.

As your little one will most likely be consuming two meals a day, one of the meals you offer should be a puree from this feeding plan.

Monday

Banana and Cinnamon - Peel a ripe banana and place half in a bowl along with a small pinch of ground cinnamon. Mix and mash together well with a fork to achieve a soft, lumpy consistency. Add your baby’s usual milk or cooled, boiled water to thin out the mash if necessary and serve. Alternatively, purée using a handheld blender or food processor if you are still offering your little one purées.

Tuesday

Apple and Ginger -  Wash, peel and core 2 sweet apples.  Cut into chunks and place in a pan along with 5 tablespoons of water and a ¼ teaspoon of minced ginger. Stir and simmer, covered, on low heat for 6-8 minutes until the apple is tender. Purée or mash as necessary. An alternative combination is apple and cinnamon.

Wednesday

Plum and Vanilla - Wash and cut 2 ripe plums in half and twist to pull apart. Peel the skin using a sharp knife and remove the stones. Roughly chop the flesh, leaving them in big chunks and add to a pan. Next cut the top off a fresh vanilla pod, slice in half lengthways, open half the length of the pod and scrape out the vanilla seeds with the tip of the knife. Pop the vanilla seeds into the pan along with 2 tablespoons of water, stir and simmer, covered, on low heat until the plums are tender (4–6 minutes). If the plums are already fairly ripe, simmer for a couple of minutes to infuse the vanilla with the flesh. Purée or mash as necessary. If the plums are too tart, add a little banana when serving. Alternatively, simmer the plums in pure apple juice.

Thursday

Butternut Squash and Cumin - Place 250g butternut squash (peeled, deseeded, cubed) into a pan with 5 tablespoons of water and a pinch of ground cumin and stir. Simmer, covered, on low heat until tender. Mash or purée in a food processor or using a handheld blender as necessary.

Friday

Cauliflower and Turmeric - Place quarter of a cauliflower (thoroughly washed, cut into small florets) in a pan with 5 tablespoons of water and add a pinch of ground turmeric and stir. Simmer, covered, on low heat for 8–10 minutes until tender. Purée or mash as required.

Saturday

Carrot and Coriander - Peel and trim the ends off 2 medium carrots. Roughly chop the carrots and place in a pan with 3 tablespoons of water and a small pinch of ground coriander and stir. Simmer, covered, on low heat until tender. Pop in a food processor and blend or mash as necessary. Achieve soft lumps in a food processor by using a pulse motion.

Sunday  

Peach and Nutmeg - Wash and skin 2 ripe peaches using the same method for plums (see Wednesday). Roughly chop the flesh, leaving it in big chunks and add to a pan. Next add a pinch of ground nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of water and stir. Simmer, covered, on low heat until the peaches are tender (4–6 minutes). If the peaches are already fairly ripe, simmer for just a couple of minutes to infuse the nutmeg with the flesh. Purée the peaches in a food processor or using a handheld blender. Alternative combinations to try are peach and ginger or peach and basil.

To be extra cautious, or if you have a known family history of allergies, I would recommend waiting 2–3 days after you introduce one spice to your little one’s diet before you introduce another. Up to 72 hours should be more than enough time for you to spot any allergic reactions baby might have to a certain spice. Allergic reactions to look out for: tummy upsets, skin rashes, swelling of the lips and face, runny and blocked noses, sneezing, itchy watery eyes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. If in doubt seek medical advice from your GP or health visitor.

Feeding plan complete? Head over to my yummy flavour-bursting stage 2 recipes: First flavour blends and texture (7-9 months)

Should you wish to create your own yummy flavour-led recipes, the following articles may be helpful:

Find 100’s more recipes, friendly advice and nutritional info in my award-winning weaning cookbooks  The Flavour-led Weaning Cookbook: Easy recipes & meal plans to wean happy, healthy, adventurous eaters By Zainab Jagot Ahmed Easy Indian Super Meals for babies, toddlers and the family: new and updated edition By Zainab Jagot Ahmed   
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