On my son’s fourth birthday, he has gifted a toy oven. He then asked for a set of toy vegetables. Next, he got a set of tiny wooden pots and pans. He spent many joyful hours pretending to run a kitchen and serving us plastic watermelon and pasta pieces carefully placed on plastic plates. 

Then one day, around the time he was close to turning six years old, he entered the real kitchen and shyly asked if he could help with the actual cooking. 

There’s a reason why cooking utensils are such a high selling item in the toy department. Kids love to cook. Or at least pretend to. The act of prepping ingredients so they can seamlessly blend together on a hot stove is nothing short of a magic trick for them. My kid’s eagerness to learn cooking was difficult to ignore. So slowly, we let him contribute to the kitchen. Over time, we figured out a few dishes that were easy enough for him to handle (with adult supervision). 

If your child is also keen to cook, there are a few recipes that can be easily prepared together. Your child learns a really valuable life skill, and you get an activity to bond over. Some of my favourite memories are watching my son’s face light up with unbridled joy and pride over a freshly cooked meal. 

Here are a few simple recipes that your child can cook with you. Just roll up your sleeves, blast on your favourite music playlist and have fun!

#1: Creamy pesto pasta 

Which kid doesn’t love pasta? And now, yours can even boast of cooking his own dish. This is a simple recipe which requires very little effort to make but will be a guaranteed hit among kids and adults alike. 

Creamy pesto pasta is easy to make and most loved by the kid

Source: https://tinyurl.com/yg8elwb7

Ingredients (serves two):

For the pesto sauce:

  • Walnuts – half-cup (original recipe requires pine nuts, but these are not commonly found in India)
  • Parmesan cheese (or any firm cheese) – 3/4th cup 
  • Basil leaves (you can also use spinach) – 1 cup 
  • Extra virgin olive oil (can use more if needed) – 1/2 cup 
  • Garlic – 2 – 3 cloves
  • Fresh cream – 1/4 cup
  • Milk  – 1/4 cup
  • Salt and pepper – as per taste 

For the pasta:

Packaged penne or spaghetti – as needed (one fistful per person)


  • Grate the cheese for the pesto
  • Add the cheese, basil leaves, garlic and walnuts in a blender and grind to a paste
  • Slowly add olive oil to this mix
  • Pour the fresh pesto into a bowl
  • Boil the dry pasta in salted water
  • Once cooked, empty into a bowl
  • Add the pesto sauce, milk and cream to the cooked pasta while it’s still hot
  • Stir till the pasta is well coated with the creamy pesto
  • Serve warm 

Cooking time: 20 minutes

What your child can do:

  • Help grate the cheese
  • Grind the pesto and add the cream 
  • Mix the pasta with the pesto sauce

#2: Vietnamese rice paper rolls with peanut sauce

These rolls are as delicious as they are easy to make. The rice paper is tricky to work with the first time and takes practice to get right. But even when clumsily rolled, they are still tasty. You can set up the ingredients in a production line, and stuff and roll the rice paper together with your kid. The veggies listed below are just a suggestion, you can swap them for other fillings or even add vermicelli noodles if you like.

Ingredients (serves two):

For the rolls:

  • Real Thai rice paper rolls – 3-4 sheets (per person)
  • Julienned carrots – 1/2 cup
  • Shredded cabbage – 1/2 cup
  • Beans sprouts – 1/2 cup
  • Mint leaves – handful (optional)
  • Roasted sesame seeds – 1/4 cup 
  • Peeled and deveined prawns – 10 – 12 (per person) 
  • Honey – 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Lime juice – 1 tablespoon
  • Oil (for pan-frying the prawns)
  • Salt and pepper – as per taste

For the peanut sauce:

  • Smooth, unsweetened peanut butter – 4 tablespoons 
  • Coconut milk – 1 tablespoon 
  • Chilli flakes/red chilli powder – 1-2 pinches 
  • Honey – 1 tablespoon
  • Low sodium soy sauce – 2 teaspoons (optional)
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Lime juice – 1 tablespoon 


To make the peanut sauce:

  • Mix all the ingredients of the peanut sauce
  • Keep stirring till the sauce is smooth
  • Microwave for 30 seconds in case the peanut butter is too thick; Or else add water till you reach the right consistency

To make the rolls:

  • Marinate the prawns in honey, lime juice, salt and pepper for 15-30 minutes
  • Shallow fry the prawns till cooked
  • Once cooled, slice the prawn into two halves, to get two thin, equal parts (similar to the butterfly cut)
  • Keep the prawns aside
  • Fill a shallow bowl or plate with lukewarm water 
  • Take a sheet of dry rice paper and submerge for 15-20 seconds (any longer, and the paper will become very soggy)
  • Place the sheet on a plate or wooden board
  • Add a small number of veggies in a pile in the centre of the rice paper: carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts and one or two mint leaves
  • Place three pieces of prawn on top of the vegetables
  • You can now add one to two spoonfuls of the peanut sauce (or else use it as a dipping sauce after the rolls are made)
  • Fold the paper gently around the ingredients, till you get a fully enclosed roll (It’s okay if it’s not perfect, this technique takes time to master)
  • Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on the roll
  • Serve and enjoy

Cooking time: 30 minutes

What your child can do:

  • Prepare the peanut sauce
  • Wet the rice paper rolls while counting to 20
  • Pile up the veggies inside each roll
  • Fold the rice paper to make the rolls 

#3 Butter chicken 

An instant classic with children of all ages, this dish is what childhood memories are made of. This recipe doesn’t really contain much butter, but it is finger-licking delicious and very easy to cook with your child. 

Ingredients (serves four):

For the chicken marinade:

  • Boneless chicken pieces – 500 gm
  • Dahi – 1/2 cup
  • Haldi powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chilli Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Jeera powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tablespoon

For the gravy:

  • Ghee, butter or vegetable oil – 1 and a half tablespoons 
  • Fresh cream – 1 cup
  • Tomato puree – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt as needed
  • Chopped coriander as garnish


To make the chicken marinade:

  • Mix the ingredients listed for the marinade, massage it into the chicken pieces
  • Let the chicken marinate for 4 hours or even overnight if possible

To make the butter chicken gravy:

  • Heat ghee (or your choice of fat) in a pan 
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Mix in the tomato puree and cream and stir it well till the colour is a rich orange hue
  • Add sugar and salt, and keep stirring
  • Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes
  • Add coriander 
  • Serve hot with fluffy rice or naan

Cooking time: 30 minutes

What your child can do:

  • Mix the marinade ingredients 
  • Add cream, puree and sugar to the pan
  • Stir the gravy well 

#4 Stovetop Butter Garlic Popcorn

If you didn’t know already, microwave pop packets are filled with harmful chemicals. It’s better to buy popcorn kernels and cook them on your stove. It’s quick and easy, and not to mention a fun activity for your child. It’s also a perfect snack for when those 4-pm hunger pangs hit. 

A very quick and easy snack that you can make with your kids

Source: https://tinyurl.com/yzfz7eqb

Ingredients (serves two):

  • Popcorn seeds – 1/2 cup 
  • Coconut or olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Butter – 2-3 tablespoons
  • Crushed garlic – 3-4 cloves
  • Salt – As per taste


  • Heat the oil in a thick bottom pot 
  • Add two popcorn seeds, wait till they pop
  • Once popped, take the popcorn out and also lift the pan off the stove
  • Add the remaining seeds and gently shake the pot till every kernel is coated with oil
  • Place the pot back on the stove; cover with a lid that has an opening for steam to escape (or else place the lid in a way that there is a small gap)
  • Keep the flame on medium heat and wait for the popping to start
  • Meanwhile, heat the butter and crushed garlic on the stove; after a few minutes, strain the garlic and butter in a small bowl
  • Once the popping slows, take the pot off the stove and empty the popcorn into a bowl 
  • Pour the melted butter over the fresh popcorn while it’s still hot
  • Add salt and mix it in well
  • Serve immediately 

What your child can do:

  • Add the popcorn seeds into the pot
  • Strain the garlic butter
  • Pour the butter over the popcorn

#5 Mini pita pizzas

Pizzas are easy to cook tasty food your child will love

Source: https://tinyurl.com/yeygksty

Ingredients (serves two):

  • Whole wheat mini pita bread (round) – 3 pieces 
  • Tomato sauce – 3 tablespoons 
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese – 1/2 cup 
  • Olive oil – 1-2 tablespoons 
  • Dried oregano – to sprinkle on top  
  • Toppings like corn, mushroom, diced bell peppers, etc. – as per your liking


  • Apply a bit of olive oil on top of each piece of pita bread 
  • Then smear on the tomato sauce and a generous portion of cheese
  • Add toppings of your choice, and then lightly sprinkle oregano over them
  • Place the pizzas on a baking tray; bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 5 – 7 minutes till cheese melts into the pizza
  • Take out of the oven, and serve warm 

What your child can do:

  • Apply the tomato sauce and cheese
  • Add the toppings on the pizza
  • Set the oven timings


Cooking with your family is a fun-filled activity that will teach your offspring a few life lessons as well. Start out with easy recipes and you can slowly work towards more complicated dishes. Just don’t forget the valuable lesson of cleaning up the mess after cooking!