Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pasta with Falafel balls in tomato sauce

It is spring break week for the kids around here. Barring a couple of days the weather has been very favorable for outdoor play. But where have all the kids gone? This thought has been ringing in my head all week. The favorite pass time of riding bikes is no more a favorite pass time it seems. I bet if most parents are like me while appreciating having little ones and not so little ones saute, flip, peel and cut and help in the kitchen and around the house there comes a time when they would truly want them out of their hair and away from the TV and the video games. It used to be easy and just stepping out of the house opened up a whole host of possibilities. Not so easy anymore.

You have to pick up the phone, fix an appointment before the kids can go off to play. Pray to God that the parents(mom) of the kids yours want to play with are not weird or difficult. I have been lucky that most moms I deal with are reasonable. There are also some that I generally keep my peace for DDs's sakes. There are some I regret not having a good realtion with because DD misses playing with her friend.

For some reason going outside does not come naturally for kids of this generation. Unlike us who had nothing of interest inside the house, TV and other electronic gadgets can take hours of their time. Once nudged outside the captivation is complete they seem to spend hours doing stuff. Lucky for DD she has a friend in our neighborhood and they visit and call on each other at the drop of a hat. DD2 unfortunately does not have kids of her age to play with and tags along with DD and her friends. DD has another good friend who lives about a mile and quarter away translating to requires a parent to drop off and pick up. Sometimes they have to forego playing because the adults are busy. The kids are old enough now to take bike rides to each others house without a chaperon. The maiden bike journey was done over the spring break. It was decided the kids would leave the house around the same time, meetup and then ride down to one of the houses.

This reminds me, when I was DDs age, I offered to give a lift to my visiting friend on a bike. We were fine but for the small mishap where I almost got both of us under a bus. It was a different time and both our parents did not find the need to give us instructions about traffic, strangers and what not. Well anyway I could not be as irresponsible as my parents were can I ;) We had the usualy talk about traffic rules, not talking to strangers and screaming at the top of the lungs along with kicking and biting. For extra precaution they carried a cell phone(DH put his foot down on that). They made the trip and the pride and happiness was visible for everyone to see. It must be obvious from my talking about it, how this simple childhood activity has become a big deal.

I am relieved that I have one less chaperoning job on my hands. I only wish it was not this hard. When I was a kid I loved my parents and all but I also wanted my space away from their probing eyes and do things that would not be kosher in their eyes. As a parent I am going to give my 2 cents unasked if they are hanging out around me all the time. It is not healthy for them and neither for me.

Interacting with other human beings other than the household members is also essential for their growth as is communing with nature and the environs they live in. There is also sobering research that states that kids of this generation will hesitate to try anything new. There are raised risk averse to an extent even natural childhood curiosity is suppressed.

As a parent it is getting to me, being vigilant 24 hours and worrying about hidden dangers in every corner is only making going to make me paranoid. But it takes a big effort on my part to just chill and let them be.

The most happy memories from my childhood are those spent roaming around farms, fields and the river with little or no supervision. There are lot of games and play that would not have been permitted if adults were hanging around all the time. With a towel and a bucket of water we were by the creek fishing, left to my grandfather that would have been a firm no because the creek was of course a bit dirty. We knew which tree had the tastiest mangoes and which crop was sown during which season. We also helped ourselves to a swim in a well the owner of which did not want messing around in her well. I bet everyone remembers the first tiny pot of rice they cooked up on three stones with heat from burning twigs. I do and that was easily the tastiest morsel of rice ever cooked.

Having open land is a privilege and everyone does not have access to one but letting kids play in open spaces and let them explore and dig and build should be a conscious decision. In one generation we have made things so difficult for ourselves and the kids suffer for it.

On the other hand kids are more attuned to what is going on around them than any generation with the very same electronics that keeps them enslaved for hours. It was on DDs insistence that we observed the Earth Hour. Cooking by candle light was no easy feat. Appreciation of nature essential for the survival of the planet?

Now to the recipe,
I have always been fascinated by spaghetti and meatballs. Lot of people have mentioned that it is easily their childhood favorite. It looked and I bet tasted very good I had to avoid eating it because the meatballs were made of pork or beef the meats I do not eat. A friend once made meatballs with ground chicken and turkey and they were excellent. The ideas of spaghetti and meat balls with both carbs and protein sounds better than just spahagetti with tomato sauce. I had just the right ingredient on hand for such a sauce, the premade falafel balls the same ones that were used for the Quick Kofta. For the sauce I followed the marinara recipe which keeps getting better and better with every attempt.


Serves: 4

Falafel balls in tomato sauce
1. 2 Cans whole Tomatoes in juice
2. 1 Red Onion chopped fine
3. 5-6 garlic cloves chopped fine
4. 2-3 tsp chili powder
5. kosher salt to taste
6. 1/4 cup Red wine (I used merlot)
7. 3/4 tbsp canola oil (Use olive oil if preferred)
8. 8-10 readymade falafel balls

1. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the juice
2. Squeeze the drained tomatoes and set aside
3. In a wide pan add oil and when hot add the onions and saute on medium low heat till they start to turn brown
4. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds, do not let them brown.
5. Now add the tomato solids and let them saute till they start sticking to the bottom and turning brown
6. Now add the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes
7. Add the tomato juice and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
8. Preheat the falafel balls and add them along with the chili powder and salt. Let it simmer for a minute or two.
9. Add Coooked pasta and toss, let sit in the heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, mix and serve with paramesan cheese.


  1. what an amazing fusion this is... Excellent idea.

  2. Tushar has spring break but Trisha's University had it 2 weeks ago, so one will be out for 2 days and one will stay home until next week.
    I agree, kids don't talk to each other anymore face to face, not even on the phone. They text each other or chat online. I tell Trisha to call her friends and talk, she says nobody does that anymore!! They are losing their ability to articulate verbally although they discuss cure for cancer and Bio Ethics online using big scientific words! :D

    Trisha made all A's in the first semester at UNCG, getting a medal next Sunday at 3pm! Second semester is over in May 12th! :)

    You do get Turkey meatballs at the groceries, tried them. My kids usually like Italian meatballs.

    Falafel addition looks great, almost like Kofta curry but in Spaghetti, yummy.

    Red Chard is already growing furiously. It's been warm and rainy here, perfect!

  3. My folks were so protective it was a production for me to do anything independently - riding the cycle to school, visiting a friend and a few other things. When they bought me a moped, I took time to learn and use it, for which they would nag me, but once I wanted to use it, they got all protective again!!!

  4. Well, at least that's the way I remember it!

  5. Wow awesome fusion of recipe. Looks yum and vibrant.

  6. Yeah, It's just sad that kids don't get to experience what we got to. I know there's a Toronto wilderness club for kids above age 10 or so.. the name escapes me right now.. Maybe there's something like that in your area too?

    And great idea about the falafel in spaghetti, Indo!!

  7. So far my kids love playing outside. DD1 has her BF living a few blocks away, & even tho there are phone calls pre meeting, but they do get to meet whenever they want. But i still don't leave my dd alone to walk/bike up to her house. i am really paranoid about kids disappearing in this country. but that is ok with me. dd2 needs a friend;( she wants to join them.. but at her age, i have to be there to stop trouble:-) fortunately my two girls play a lot together outside our house or backyard. no substitute here .. i literally push them outside the house when the weather is good.. & they prefer that than staying indoors... well so far..

    that is a killer idea, to use the falafel balls! & i just love that steaming hot picture.

  8. Wow wat a delicious fusion..thats a great prefect dish with falafel balla..

  9. i could not help but smile when you wrote DD2 tags along with DD1 to her buddy's place. My friend's younger sis would tag along with her and boy we would give her hell for it ;)
    I have also heard of horror stories from my friends who had to put up wiht wierdos for the sake of their kids..just too bad....that there are such few 'normal' folks left...
    Your falafel balls with pasta was something i have been thinking for a while...but never ventured out to make looks absolutely delicious!...i think i should stop being lazy and make it already :)

  10. My parents always trusted me a lot and gave me a lot of independence to the point that I started to wonder if they didn't care as much as the other parents did... :) But thinking back, i'm thankful they were that way. I don't know if i can be so laid back - it's hard not to be paranoid when you read so many things but sometimes one just has to learn to let go I suppose.

    I made falafels last week - what a great idea to use them as a substitute for meatballs. I've been eating them like burgers or as such.

  11. Mythreyee, thanks.

    Asha, scares me. Even when they are together they want to communicate with their electronic toys. Congrats to Trisha.
    My Siwss Chard are just starting to sprout.

  12. I totally understand what a big production it is, in this day and age, to let the kids do something as simple as riding bikes to one another's home! Wait till they start driving. MA has a new law that the kids can't have passengers first 6 mos after they get the new license -- which is good -- but even so my nerves are shot from letting m ride with the VERY few chosen young drivers. Thank goodness for cell phones so I can know where she is at all times. When I was a kid we walked to school, walked back and forth for lunch, walked all over town... nobody gave it a second thought. Mom didn't worry if she didn't see me from 7am till 7pm -- or if she did, she didn't let me know. Too bad life is so complicated now.

    Your pasta sauce is divine with the red wine and garlic, yum. I am trying to grow some oregano this year for tomato sauce. The falafel balls -- stroke of genius! :)

  13. I totally agree with you. My daughter and her friends do not play games outside anymore. They just talk oe watch TV and play games indoors. as a kid we just could play with anything anywhere. I am also surprised that Kids in India too do not come outside anymore. Either it is the extra classes they go to after school or the exams.
    I always tell my daughter about the little pleasures we had when we got a small gift like a balloon from our parents and I do not find the same excitement or happiness when my daughter gets a new WII.
    It is a real challenge for us and more so for the kids.
    The recipe looks good. I will have to buy the falafel balls soon.

  14. Sra, I bet it wasn't half as bad as it is these days. The belief is the kids can't even walk to the next door without a chaperone.

    Kay, the problem is not the availability of wilderness or nature, it is just that kids can't go by themselves anywhere.

    Soma, I totally understand your sentiment. The problem is also the bad news is everywhere it is hard to relax. Lot of kids don't even play outside the house anymore they are cooped up indoors and I always wonder how the parents keep them entertained.

    Priya thanks.

    Rajitha, I can assure DD does not like it all the time. If it is one of her friends birthdays and both get invited she begs me to keep DD2home or she will be responsible for her, those times I understand and keep DD2 at home with me. But some of her friends like playing with her so it has been ok so far.

    Laavanya, exactly, that is why I feel guilty when I keep so under my watchful eyes all the time. Too much information has been bad for kids freedom in general.

    Linda scary to see how things have changed in one generation. Where driving is concerned I like the no passenger laws but of course thank god for cell phones.

  15. My cousins and i would spend the summer vacation at my grandfather's house and our moms for the most part, had no clue where we were or what we were up to. The only rule was to show up at lunchtime, which we promptly did. I had similar experiences as you - plucking mangoes & star fruits from the neighbors' homes, playing in really muddy & dirty waters, where buffaloes were being washed (we were scalped for that one!).
    Life is different for kids in this day & age. I like your way of looking at it and making it work. It is very balanced.
    Your falafel meatballs idea is nice! Loved your falafel for kofta curry too :)

  16. I love the idea of using premade falafels. So easy! Bookmarked your marinara recipe. Will try soon :)

  17. always nice reading your posts! I was lucky to have grown up with huge group of friends, in summer vacations, we would be hanging out in someone's house, parents actually had to knock many doors to find where we were!
    My daughter is very young and I hope I will not turn out to be a paranoid parent!

    And what an awesome fusion idea this is!

  18. My DS is still 3.5 years and I am dreading for the times when he has vacation in the school. I have seen other colleagues go through that ordeal.
    Like the idea of falafel balls in the sauce.

  19. reading abt ur play dates is like thinking abt mine!! almost same thing happens in my house. kids do not know that the outside world exists after 6 months of the winter!!and i too worry if my kid is outside alone for too long!!meatballs and spagetti was on my mind just yest.:))

  20. Adding falafel is such a great idea Indo... I've got to try this!

  21. Lovely idea of falafel with spaghetti! Yes Indo the kids time has become very fussy nowadays. This post has kindled warm memories of me with my bro and sis wandering in the wild places with all thorns poking in our toes (inspite of th shoes :)) But they never ached ;)

  22. happy new year, dear indo.

  23. I have a version of this as well, though my "meatballs" were made from tofu. This one sounds interesting too!

    Its definitely a very thin line between becoming paranoid and a "helicopter" mom and being reasobanly cautious. Kudos for taking the step to send her on her own - a big step indeed and one which will make her independent and confident.

    It is so difficult these days to let our children out to play like we were - unsupervised with only a deadline to come back home.

    I am glad that Delhi has given an opportunity for my 4 year old to go out every single day since she was 2 to the park across the road and also her friend's house down the road and upstairs. Chennai had neither any open spaces nor people interested in setting up play dates and she stayed home the whole week.


  24. Loved the new green look Indo. Wishing and your family a very Happy New Year too

  25. Amazing idea! Very innovative!


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