I am pretty sure that mothers with school age kids across the globe constantly face the 'lunch box' conundrum. In an ideal world or in a food commercial, a mother lovingly packs a substantial, healthy meal for the kids and they return home with empty boxes and happy faces. In reality, the scenario would be quite the opposite. The kids sometimes come home with untouched boxes and sour faces, giving lame excuses. 'The most favorite food in the world' keeps on changing for every few days. The conundrum turns nightmarish especially when the kids are picky eaters and moms have to wreck their heads for creativity.
Probably all mothers agree with me when I say that packing a nutritious meal that appeals to kids' senses can get quite challenging sometimes. I have been packing my kids' lunch boxes for more than a decade now but it is still hard to please my younger one sometimes. These rotis are for kids like her who do not prefer carrying a side dish along with rotis or refuse to touch stuffed parathas. These colorful rotis are prepared with multi grain flour and vegetable puree to make them more nutritious and healthy. You can of course pack a side dish / yogurt / ketchup for kids if they prefer or add spices directly to the dough so that little ones can just roll them and eat. Three different kinds of vegetable based doughs are prepared. A small portion of each one is rolled into a log and then coiled tight to form a disc. It is rolled into a thin circle and toasted like regular rotis. These patterned colorful rotis are visually very much appealing to little ones and may not even realize that they are eating vegetables with the surprise thrown at them. Of course one need not go with my choice of vegetables and substitute them with their favorite vegetables.
Ingredients: (Yield about 7 large rotis or about a dozen small rotis)
3 cups multi grain flour (See the notes below)
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrot cubes
1/2 cup peeled and cubed beetroot
1/2 cup spinach puree
Milk / yogurt / water to grind the vegetables
Canola / vegetable oil
Extra wheat flour for dusting
(The quantities of spices can be changed or omitted according to one's choice).
* Add carrots to a blender and grind finely using as little liquid as possible. (I use milk / yogurt for grinding, to make the rotis more nutritious and keep them softer.)
* Similarly grind beetroot pieces separately and keep it aside.
* Blanch the spinach if using fresh leaves or thaw in the microwave for 4 -5 minutes if using frozen spinach. Grind it into a fine puree and keep it aside. If you don't prefer the strong flavor of ground spinach, just wash and chop the spinach leaves finely.
* To one part of the flour add carrot puree and about 1 tbsp of oil. Combine to form a firm, pliable dough. (If the dough appears to be sticky, add some extra flour and if the dough is too dry then add some extra liquid.)
* To the second part of the dough, add beetroot puree and a tbsp. of oil. Again form a firm dough and keep it aside.
* To the third part of the flour add the spinach puree / finely chopped spinach and a tbsp. of oil and prepare the dough.
* Keep the dough balls covered for minimum 30 minutes. I left it on my counter-top for about an hour.
* Pinch small lime sized balls from each colored dough.
1. Multi grain atta can be store bought or home made. For home made versions, try to keep the ratio of wheat to the other grains combined 5:1 or 4:1. If you are lucky enough to have a local flour mill, you can grind wheat kernels along with ragi, oats, barley, soya beans, maize and chana dal and store the flour in an airtight container.
After learning what is present in the store bought flour, I instead started to combine the flours I have at home just like this dosa flour. For today's version, I combined 2 & 1/2 cups of atta / wheat flour, 2 tbsp. each of besan / garbanzo flour, corn flour, finely ground oats, and 1 tbsp. each of ragi flour and soy flour.
2. If planning to make the rotis for lunch boxes, this dough can be prepared the previous night itself. Cover and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use in the morning. Just before making the rotis, thaw the dough in the microwave. Place the dough covered in the microwave and heat for about 30 to 60 seconds depending upon the quantity of dough you have. and then proceed with the recipe as usual.
3. Other vegetables can be substituted.
This is my contribution to Indusladies Recipe book with the theme "Kids Lunch Box".