I absolutely love cooking. And mostly, I cook instinctively. No recipe tastes the same when I make it the second time, because the ingredients in my kitchen change too. I learnt cooking mainly by watching – both my grandmothers and my mother. I only started to cook when I lived alone, and I realised how much cookbooks are like story books. The stories of food matter, and whilst a recipe may be just a recipe, it’s that little nugget of a memory of taste, a sunny summer spent eating fruits, the secret ingredient for a perfect rasam recipe, the magic twist to a shrikhand….

But when I had my first child, I had no food lexicon to revert to. I remember my first attempt at making baby food – I roasted and ground 4 types of lentils (Daal), Ragi and Rice, Dates, Elaichi – and made something my son ate with due hesitation. My mother watched me bemused, my grandmother sent tips of wisdom on the phone – please use only Moong Daal, children should not eat 4 daals at 6 months. Also sprout the Ragi. And we had such a fun conversation, thank god for grandmother’s. So many Slurrp Farm recipes have been inspired by both Meghana and mine. 

For the first time, I was responsible for someone else’s nutrition and it was my brain going into overdrive. A whole new food journey was embarked upon. I learnt about nutrition and I thought about making cereals and snacks at home. Along the way I missed having one book or place I could trust for recipes that I identified with. Indian, yet modern. As my second child came, I relaxed. She eats everything and without hesitation. With the sheet joy that second children who are not riddled with the anxiety of their parents.

I wanted to share some recipe books that I have loved for both my children, now aged 6 years old and 18 months old. We are the stage where we have a home chef who wants to cook and a little one who needs baby food. I’d love to know what works in your house.

Annabel Karmel

Annabel Karmel has written over 40 books on food for babies, kids and families. You can choose the one relevant to your life stage. I bought the complete Baby and Toddler Meal planner. It gives you great advice on what fruits and vegetables are appropriate at what age, and little handy tips. Along with a store house of amazing recipes 

Finger foods for babies and toddlers

We did baby led weaning with both my children. I love this book because it has very few recipes (less confusion!) and really good suggestions. It has a section on planning food for travelling, which I felt had really useful tips. And I really enjoyed all the neat ideas on how to get my kids to feed themselves 🙂

A Taste of India

This is not a kids cookbook. It is nonetheless my all time FAVOURITE cookbook in the world, and I am a serial cookbook collector. The reason is that it has stories and recipes from every state in India! It’s such a treasure trove. And now that my elder child is 6, I enjoy telling him about the states of India, by the difference in ingredients, spices and tastes. It’s a lovely book for teaching budding cooks and getting you to remember food from the different kitchens you may have eaten in.

Ella’s Kitchen 

A super favourite for older kids. They can read it and follow the instructions on their own. The recipes are healthy, and have fun suggestions for decorating twists that older children enjoy a lot

A  few more cook books we recommend are listed here!

Happy cooking!