My kids are not too fond of eating. Their delicate palate doesn’t let them relish the richness of spice some of the Indian foods possess. That makes getting inventive with food options difficult.
I was a poor eater in my childhood.
So it doesn’t surprise me in the least that my kids are picky eaters. My relationship with eating evolved as time passed. It transformed from something I did because mom said so to something I enjoyed experimenting with to a time for bonding with friends and family. It eventually became a magic ride that makes me nostalgic with memories of mom’s kitchen, time spent with friends, and traditions I’ve embraced over the years. Now, I’m a foodie to the core.
It’s taken me a lot of trials and errors to get my kids to be healthy eaters.
But my experience with food has taught me not to get too worried about my kids being so choosy. After all, they come from a family who loves to eat! While I’m someone who enjoys trying out different cuisines, it’s always an uphill battle getting them to try new things.
When you’re younger though, exotic foods at restaurants are exciting! I’ve been guilty of pestering my parents to eat out. The thrill of sitting at a table and ordering food for yourself is one of the joys that only a child can enjoy while pretending to be an adult.
When they were younger, my kids just ate nuggets and fries whenever we were out. These are perfectly acceptable ‘treats,’ but it’s wonderful if I find they can enjoy something else off the menu. As a bonus, I sleep much better knowing they are nourished and the meal has been a complete experience for them.
Fun fact: every state in India has its own classic meals that are wholesome in every way.
Sub cuisines are as varied as the number of languages spoken within the country which is incidentally officially 22 (not counting the different dialects, accents, and those spoken in much smaller regions). You can imagine the multitude of options in food by that example.
Contrary to what many (including my kids) believe, Indian food is not just made with the strong flavors like ginger and garlic. That is just one of the many sub cuisines of India called Mughlai and includes Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, and other richly made dishes. Every food item has its place, and every method of cooking adds up to different flavors. Holistic cooking requires a meal to include different spices so as to heal and strengthen your body from within. (This is what I tell the kids, too!) Many of the sub cuisines and street foods (different based on region) are super easy to put together and enticing to the palate in the simplicity of their flavors. Thus, they’re kid friendly, too.
Food being a big part of any culture, I want my kids to experience India as best as they can. I’ve been in Richmond since 2009 and the Indian eateries scene has changed multiple times. There have always been options to savor many of the sub cuisines Indian culture has to offer. Earlier, we had to pick up the kids’ meals and take them to restaurants. Slowly but surely, we’ve found foods that they enjoy. Recently, we’ve seen a few more restaurants being introduced making it much easier for me to make sure the kids enjoy something Indian occasionally even if we’re eating out.
Below are five restaurants we frequent that are budget and family-friendly.
Kids can go, enjoy their food at their pace, and experience trying out something new that’s more similar to what they relish! There is also a side note about the dishes I believe most kids would enjoy.
Anokha Indian Cuisine
Located just off Lauderdale Drive, this is one of the few upscale Indian restaurants in Short Pump that has been a staple for us. They mostly offer Mughlai food and their flavors have always been consistent with the amazing option to spice it to the level your taste buds can bear. Their gorgeous ambiance and great staff make any visit enjoyable. Their lunch menu offers the most bang for the buck. You select a lunch item and you get a starter, a side dish, rice, unlimited Naan, and a dessert to boot!
They have a great-priced kids menu as well that includes grilled or fried chicken with Naan, rice, and fries, and that makes for easy eating.
Just off Nuckols Road, this place is not fancy in terms of ambiance or service. While a tad eccentric, they provide the best South Indian food albeit a little on the spicier side. You order a curry and get a choice of bread free! They have options for Dosas (savory crepes of rice and lentils with optional filling), Wadas, and Idlis (snack items that can be enjoyed at any time of the day). The Idlis, Chicken Roast, and Yogurt Rice are to die for. Their starters are always on point. Coffees are available for $1 in the afternoons and are a great pick me up. A warning though: sometimes they cook something so well that they run out, it’s not available on the menu, and you’re left disappointed! I suggest calling to check if they have something if you’re really craving it.
Dosas and Kerala Parathas are immensely enjoyed by kids because of their inherent sweetness. Their cost-effective lunch options give a great way to have a complete meal.
Indian Pastry House
Off Broad Street, they have the most amazing classic Indian sweet pastries, namely Black Forest and pineapple. Their savory puff pastries filled with fusion fillings are finger-licking good. They have Indian snack items and Indian Chinese items that are great on your pocket so you can try more than one item off the menu. You can’t leave without trying their Mango Lassi (sweet yogurt drink) or their coffee which are both always refreshing.
On Mondays, they have Dosa nights which are a great attraction where you can eat every kind of Dosa you want, unlimited, for a fixed price!
As the name suggests, this restaurant has the most succulent tandoori options. All the meats are cooked in rich marinades. All of their Biryanis are cooked to perfection and consistent in flavor. Their Kabab and Tandoori platters are great as you get bread, rice, curry, salad, and the main dish for a fixed price. If you prefer to order just the main dish, there is always enough for two. Their lunch buffet is a great way to sample their cooking before you commit to a meal for dinner.
Kids thoroughly enjoy their Tandoori Chicken and Kababs as they are full of flavor and never too heavy on the spice.
Desi Street Food
This is a recent addition to Richmond and how happy I was that they opened up. They make the most authentic Indian street food I’ve had outside of India. The ambiance is exactly how a street food place feels, and the delicacies are prepared and served as they are eaten in the different states of India. Again, not being too pricey makes it fun to have variety in your courses. Their Wada Pav (bread stuffed with flavored potatoes) and Pav Bhaji (bread with potato gravy) are outstanding!
Chole Bhature are always a hit with the little ones. They are puffed breads made with wheat, and the Chole (Gravy) perfectly complements the plain bread.
Have you been to any of the above restaurants? What was your experience like? Do your kids enjoy Indian food? If they haven’t tried any yet, the above dishes are a great way to introduce them to new flavors. All the dishes I mentioned are not too hot and have the wholesomeness of a complete meal.