Thursday, 6 August, 2020, 12:57 PM
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 My Genius Lunch Box

Uma Raghuraman

Published : Saturday, 25 July, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 203
Reviewed by Chitra Deepa Anantharam

Upma cups, puran poli cupcakes, adai sliders, muffin idli and more such familiar yet creative, easy-to-make snacks for children are listed in Uma Raghuraman's cook book launched this week...

 My Genius Lunch Box

 My Genius Lunch Box

“The world is still in lockdown mode; I wonder when our children will be able to go back to school. Am sure they miss all the fun and frolic of the school environment, which is why I suggest that parents still pack different types of healthy snacks and lunch even when the children attend online classes," says Uma Raghuraman, a food blogger and author who is better known as Masterchefmom.
Tiffin boxes at home, apart from making online learning more interesting, can also help children understand that nutritious food can be tasty. Moreover this is a good time for parents to train their children to eat all types of fruits, vegetables and pulses, says Uma over phone from Gurugram. "When I grew up in Chennai, the lunch box was such an important part of my school days, and continued well into my college years. I never shied away from carrying a wire koodai (wire basket) which had a two-tier stainless steel tiffin box and a huge waterbottle. But the current generation prefers to tuck a slim lunchbox into their bag, and therefore even the lunch we pack has to suit that box," she adds. "What is sad is that lunch hour in school is no longer that special time, when kids used to sit in circles and share their food and enjoy. The kids these days prefer to munch something quickly and get out to play. So parents invariably end up packing roti or paratha or some finger food."
Uma was a novice at cooking when she got married 24 years ago. She gradually learnt the nuances of cooking from her mother-in-law and also from her mother. "My greatest inspiration is my husband, who is a big time foodie and would go to any extent to explore good food across different cuisines. Those were the days when we did not have the Internet or social media, so I learnt new recipes from magazines and aunts. Another great source was the neighbours in the apartment; we all used to get together and learn a new dish and even bake. I was looking for novel ideas to pack tasty and nutritious lunch for my son and daughter, and that is how my interest in cookery grew," Uma says.
Favourites then and now
It was the aesthetics of her food photography, especially, that fetched her followers on social media. "I launched my blog in 2014 and started posting on Instagram after a year. Right from 2014 I have been posting many lunch box recipes which were a big hit. I started experimenting and developing finger food and snacks which are high on nutritional value, and at the same time preferred by the kids, and also easy to prepare." Uma used to give a continental twist to the South Indian idli and dosa, by steaming idlis in muffin trays, making layered idli sandwiches and stuffed dosas. In a few years, her lunch box recipes touched 100: that is when a publishing company approached her with the idea of publishing them as a book.
"It was during 2011-2014, while I was working as a teacher in kindergarten, that I began to closely observe eating patterns and preferences of kids, and I even used to observe what they bring and if they eat it or discard. This further motivated me to research more on lunch box ideas," says Uma, who has been posting simple, minimum-ingredient recipes during the lockdown period. Her recipes focus on doable, simple lunch box recipes and top on the list are adai sliders, puran poli cup cakes, mango motak pie, kulcha pizza, pull-apart buns, pakoda waffle and upma cups to name a few.

Courtesy: THE HINDU

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