Every Ramadan, I set a theme in our house by which, my children can learn more about the Holy Month. In the past, we have done the A-Z of Akhlaaq series , the Prophets of Islam series and then last year, we did the Alhamdulillah for Series- Gratitude Journal together as a family. This year, I am paying extra emphasis to teaching children the different ways in which they can giving charity as well as show gratitude to what they already have.
I have a 10 year old son and two 3 and 5 year old daughters. Lucky for us, our summer break has just started and all of them are at home. I find it as a perfect opportunity to teach them more about our traditions and culture. We have a daily plan that involves a bit of learning -Quran, Dua and a book; praying together, some fun craft or activity and then some chores to keep the boredom at bay. Alhamdulillah, that my little girls are a bit bigger now because in the past, juggling two toddlers and Ramadan was very busy.
Every day, through this month, I have been inviting my children into the kitchen. I’m sure you will relate that our best memories of Ramadan are definitely the sitting down together to eat at iftaar. The family life, the discussions, the connections… there is so much to learn and appreciate together.
I grew up in a family where my father put special emphasis that we all help our mother set the table; so that she isn’t running about at iftaar exhausted and unable to utilize or enjoy the time for prayer. I feel, Alhamdulillah, blessed that my husband has the same belief. In the past years, even though we had little babies, he would place them in the high chairs and get the elder ones to help him with different activities like, peeling, plucking or arranging the fruits or just to run and fetch things. This year, we are taking it a step further because my 10 year old son loves to cook and my daughters enjoy helping him. We let them make a dish or two by themselves every day.
Ramadan is the perfect time to teach your children about your traditions and culture because seriously, they will not learn it by themselves. Cooking, our food, how we serve, our traditions, the way we treat others is something that needs to be taught. Cooking is a skill that your children will need to practice for the rest of their lives. While we were doing our A-Z of Akhlaaq series, we had numerous opportunities to talk about serving and feeding others as an act of charity. When we did the lesson about N for Neighbours, I let them make their own Iftar dish too. They felt pride in their dish and the fact that people had appreciated them and their efforts. This little confidence carried forward through the year.
Cooking or helping set the table, children learn about responsibility, charity, respect and of course to appreciate food. It is the best way to help picky eaters learn to try other foods too.
But… what can little children cook? I’m sharing some Iftar recipes below that even your littlest can make.
Please note that children should be supervised while in the kitchen. Make sure that you are using tools that are safe for their age. Make sure you are using ingredients that are safe for their allergies or any health conditions that they may have.
Ramadan Recipes that Even Kids can Make
- Juices and smoothies: This is the easiest and the most fun way for kids. My children love to press the ‘buzz’ button. I give them a bowl to put in all the fruits and other ingredients which I transfer to the mixie jug. I fix it up and make sure that it is locked in place and they only have to buzz it. My son is old enough now to carry it on by himself but I have to make sure the little girls aren’t around him. Here are a few types for you to try.
- Strawberry milk shake: Frozen strawberries+ milk+ sugar.
- Avocado shake: Very ripe avocado+ milk+ sugar
- Pinna Colada: Coconut+ Pineapple+ milk+ sugar
- Fresh Carrot and Orange juice
- Rooh Afza
- Rooh Afza Lassi – Butter milk +Rooh Afza
- Salads and no cook meals: Salads are another fun category for kids. Every since I taught my children to make salads, they love to experiment. Simple dips and sauces are another thing that your children can make independently. Try these below.
- Corn cucumber salad : diced Corn + diced Cucumber + a simple( olive oil + salt + lemon juice) dressing
- Classic Baleela or chickpea salad- We herein Saudi Arabia love our Baleela. It is the easiest chick pea salad ever! Previously pressure cooked Chickpeas or store bought boiled ones ( drained) + pickled cucumber or beets (diced very small)+ dressing ( hot chilli sauce + 1 tsp vinegar + salt).
- Arabian salad – diced cucumbers + spring greens+ diced capsicum + tomatoes + arabian dressing (olive oil + lemon juice+ coriander powder + salt)
- Guacamole and chips
- Humus and vegetables julienne
- Folding and wrapping: I will be honest: I hate folding and wrapping 20-30 samosa! But… kids love it!! So go ahead and teach them this (life skill?). Just give them the fillings that you have prepared.
- Spring rolls
- Puff pastries
- Cutting, peeling and plucking fruits. My kids love to do this. Their father started them on this. He would ask them to pluck the grapes off the stem or peel the bananas for the salad and now it is a competition. Ok, so they will eat some ( umm… most) of it but it is ok. The older ones usually listen and mind the younger ones.
- Fruit salad
- Fruit chat
- Dates : this is my son’s favourite recipe. He has like 20 versions of how dates should be served!
- Chocolate dipped dates: just melt chocolate, fill the dates with sum dry fruit paste and dip in the hot chocolate
- Dates and almonds: Blanche the almonds or boil to soften and remove skin. Cut the dates and insert the almond in place of the seed.
- Quick desserts: When I first started cooking with my kids, I started the Montessori way. At the age of 2.5 years, I taught them how to stir and pour. The best way to teach that was to let them make these quick desserts. I used store bought packets for these. If your children don’t have allergies then once in a while this is a good idea too.
- Jello – Prepare the hot water in advance and follow the instructions.
- Crème caramel- many brands have this quick instant version of crème caramel. You only have to add milk and stir.
- Muhallabia- if you live in the Middle East, I am sure you know about Muhallabia. It comes in an instant version. You just add milk, stir and then boil and pour. I let my kids do the mixing and stirring only.
- Bread pudding with crème caramel- this is the fun recipe where you just arrange the bread and add the crème caramel (mentioned above) till the slices are soaked. Place in the fridge till it sets and then decorate.
Aren’t these recipes above so much fun? These are just to give you an idea. I hope you will try them with your little ones. Do leave a comment below or hop on over to my Instagram or Facebook page to see what we are cooking in my kitchen. You can follow my blog JeddahMom and join our Kids in the Kitchen in Ramadan theme too.
Happy Ramadan! May the Almighty accept from you and me our prayers and our fasts!
Ayesha Siddiqua is a Indian Expat living in Saudi Arabia. She is a stay at home mom with three children. On her blog, Jeddah Mom (jeddahmom.com) she writes about raising young Muslims in a modern environment, her travel adventures and discovering the wonders of life in Saudi Arabia. She loves to crochet, craft and cook.