Tiffins and Stories Of An Indian in American Schools.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Posted by Shah cooks

Recently I started paying more attention to my son's lunch box, not entirely out of passion, but out of neccessity. What began as a "OMG,what shall I give him today?" is slowly capturing his and my imagination and becoming simpler and more streamlined.

One of my biggest challenges is a strange one. My little one who eats all my spicy, rustic, traditional and non traditional food at home is shy when he goes to school. I have been gathering all the excuses he gives for bringing back an untouched tiffin. It was gooey, sticky, it didn't taste right, the others made fun of the smell (Indian spices),it was not spicy enough, it was too spicy,I forgot to pack the fork, it was cold (he likes it hot) and so on. My friend said these were similar to the main charater's experiences in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". The kids want to just blend in and not attract any attention. And if the kid is shy, then its peanut butter and jelly sandwich only. Blending in should not mean blanding in.

So now we made a list of possibilities and a list of no-nos. Rice with curry is out , but fried rice or pulav is ok. Sandwiches, two slices of bread with anything squished in between still rules the menu. Now you would think why doesn't he eat from the cafeteria. He doesn't want to and I didn't insist for now as the menu there was nothing great. Maybe later when I get busier, I will change my mind. Maybe as he grows older, he won't like mommy food anymore. So I am enjoying the attention for now.

This is what a typical lunch would look like now. Some store bought stuff, some home made. If I make cakes or snacks, that gets packed instead or else it back to his favourite junk(as he calls it). That’s a cream cheese and strawberry preserves(jam/jelly) untoasted sandwich, a pork free breakfast chicken links cut and spiced with pepper flakes, an orange(peeled), a yogurt box, couple of chocolate chip cookies, and water. Yep, he drinks water, doesn’t like juice and since is anyway loaded with sugar (36 gm-equals 7 tsps), its better. Milk is an ongoing battle which I shall tell you later.

Another popular lunch is Paratha..stuffed flatbread. Good for me as it takes care of veggies and carbs at one go and can be eaten cold. I remember paratha being my favourite lunch item too. This box has Potato-fenugreek leaves (Alu-Methi)paratha, cream cheese for dipping, A twisted cheese snack, chocolate milk, red globe grapes washed and dried and chocolate chip cookies. Believe me, the lunch box comes back clean.
Some essentials I now love:
Tiny ziplock snack bags, tiny containers, a divided lunch box, Foil, and good plastic wrap. All these fit neatly into an insulated lunch bag and prevents leakage.
I love the look of the laptop lunch box, with all its divided containers fitting in so well, but have yet to get one. One of these days.. Thats all for this week. Do leave a comment and let me know your suggestions and experiences.

This Post was written by Shaheen from Malabar Spices.


Shaheen -- I'd love to learn how to make the bread in the second photo. It sounds and looks beautiful. And I know just what you mean about children wanting to blend in. It's a tough one and you're approach sounds like it's working.

Anonymous said...
November 30, 2006 at 8:26:00 PM GMT+1  

Looks perfect! Hey, do you know if ranch or mayonnaise is avialable in small packs like that? I have been looking for it but couldn't find yet.

Maybe you would like to hear this as well. Today I made a wrap for my kid's lunchbox. I made the filling by sauteeing onion, garlic, and a little ground beef, and when it was browned, I added one small finely chopped and peeled eggplant, chopped green tomato(only the outer part), paprika, cumin, lemon juice, parsley, black pepper pdr....and cooked it all together for about 10 minutes. Sounds a little familiar? An adaptation of your stuffed eggplant recipe! I made a wrap for myself with the leftovers and it was awesome!

Anonymous said...
November 30, 2006 at 9:21:00 PM GMT+1  

Oh Shaheen, I feel so bad for your kid trying to fit in...its hard for most kids I know. But I also know a kid who ONLY eats spicy Indian and won't take anything in her lunchbox :).....it takes up all kinds to make the world, doesn't it?

Nabeela said...
November 30, 2006 at 10:21:00 PM GMT+1  

Can totally understand :-) I too pack parathas for my kids. I try not to pack too many things as my kids are slow eaters.

Krithika said...
December 1, 2006 at 1:35:00 AM GMT+1  

Lily, i will only know if it is working after some time. the paratha recipe is simple. will write it in detail and give u.

Rp, ur wrap sounds so good. i am going to try it now. teh ranch packets i haven't seen but let me know if u find it. it would be good with carrot sticks.
Nabeela, i guess kids have it hard in some ways and easy in soem ways here.

krithika, parathas are good. i pack an assortment as he has after care some days and to make sure soemthing gets eaten..

Anonymous said...
December 1, 2006 at 4:06:00 PM GMT+1  

Hi Shaheen,
I face the same problem.My daughter brings back her lunch untouched.Now I am trying to give finger foods.Today I have packed Idlis cut into squares and coated with egg kurma.Plus a V8 bottle juice. Hope She likes that way.

Anonymous said...
December 1, 2006 at 6:21:00 PM GMT+1  

ladies, i would have loved it if my mom had made me indian lunches. i was head-over-heels for my japanese friend's lunches, too... her mom always made things i'd never seen or tasted before. amazing.
but most kids are just scared of what they don't know... too bad, they're missing out!

Anonymous said...
December 9, 2006 at 11:46:00 PM GMT+1  

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