7 Easy Middle Eastern Chicken Recipes to Make With Your Toddler
One of the best ways to prevent a picky eater is to introduce them to different flavors, textures, and colors early on in their transition to solid foods.
Traditional Middle Eastern cuisine is savory, aromatic, and exceptionally healthy. This makes it a fantastic choice for young kids. If you are looking for some quick and easy Middle Eastern Chicken recipes to make with your toddler, we have cooked up a menu that is bound to please!
Why Should I Cook Middle Eastern Food With My Toddler?
Did you know that cooking with your toddler will not only expand their palate, but it will also improve their fine and gross motor skills, bolster their language development, and hone their problem-solving skills?
We don’t want toddlers handling the raw chicken or working the stovetop. But we can get them involved in the meal prep process! Your toddler can measure, mix, and pour the spices and condiments. If you own a kid safety knife, you can even get your toddler involved with chopping the softer fruits and vegetables– under adult supervision, of course.
Middle Eastern Chicken and Waffles
This is a fun spin on the classic American breakfast staple.
First, combine one pound of chicken tenderloins with one cup of unsweetened almond milk in a ziplock bag. Allow this mixture to marinate overnight.
Then, in the morning, grab three bowls and a skillet. In the first bowl, place one and a half cups of flour. In the second bowl, whisk two eggs. Finally, in the third bowl, mix two cups of unseasoned bread crumbs with three tablespoons of za’atar.
Now it is time to prep your chicken! Take your skillet and pour in approximately two inches of vegetable oil. Turn the stovetop to a medium heat and allow it to warm up.
While this is happening, grab your marinated chicken and place it in the flour, applying an even coat to both sides.
Next, quickly but gently, dip the chicken in the egg bowl. Lastly, Place it in the breadcrumb bowl, applying a generous layer.
Now, all you have left to do is place your breaded chicken into the frying pan and cook until golden brown. This should take approximately 10 minutes, five minutes per side. However, cook times can vary depending on the thickness of the chicken. A safe internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once done, place the tenderloins on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch the excess grease.
For the waffles, simply grab one and a half cups of your favorite waffle mix and add a quarter of a cup of tahini.
Next, substitute the recommended amount of water for almond milk. Cook the mixture in your waffle iron, and voila! You have a delicious protein-filled and dairy-free breakfast!
Additionally, this portion of the meal can easily be done by your tots. It is a great sensory activity and all of the ingredients are safe if they end up in your little one’s mouth before the cooking commences!
Pairing: This hearty breakfast goes well with lighter sides like Greek yogurt or a Middle Eastern fruit salad. Simply combine grapes, cantaloupe, oranges, and pomegranates, topped with a palmful of pistachios.
This quintessential Middle Eastern dish is deliciously simple!
All you need is:
- Two pounds of boneless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- One large garlic clove
- Two tablespoons of cumin, coriander, and cardamom
- Two teaspoons of paprika and salt,
- One pinch of black pepper
Preparation is easy. Combine your spices, lemon juice, and olive oil in a large ziplock bag, then add your chicken. Seal the bag and massage the marinade over the meat. Let this mixture sit in the fridge for at least three hours.
Once the chicken has had time to soak up all those exquisite flavors, it’s time to cook! Grab a non-stick skillet, coat the base of the pan with oil, and allow it to heat up. Next, carefully place your chicken in the skillet and cook each side of the meat for approximately six to eight minutes (cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the meat). When the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees, remove it from the pan, cover it with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest for five minutes.
Pairings: Chicken Shawarma goes great with rice pilaf, couscous, or pita bread. Top it off with some hummus, the most famous Middle Eastern food, or yogurt sauce. You’ll have yourself an effortless weeknight meal!
Chicken Kofta Kebabs
This traditional Persian meal is brimming with flavor. It may also be a big hit with toddlers due to its similar appearance to a hamburger!
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Two pounds of ground chicken (this can be substituted with ground beef)
- One egg
- Half of a cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs
- Two small onions (finely chopped)
- Two large garlic cloves (finely minced)
- One teaspoon of allspice, cumin, paprika, black pepper, and kosher salt
- Two teaspoons of coriander
- Half a cup of freshly chopped parsley
First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place your wooden skewers into a bowl of water. This will ensure that the skewers do not burn while cooking.
Second, in order to prepare your kofta batties, you must soften your onions and garlic in a non-stick skillet. Simply add a dash of olive oil to the pan and cook over medium heat. After ten minutes, add your spices (leaving out the parsley). Then, transfer the mixture into a bowl and allow it to cool.
Next, add in your breadcrumbs, egg, ground chicken, and parsley. Finally, form the mixture into oval-shaped patties and place them on your skewers.
Lastly, put the kebabs onto a baking sheet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the kebabs halfway through the cook cycle. Again, make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Pairings: Chicken Kofta Kebabs go fantastically with grilled veggies like zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, and red onions. Season with garlic, salt, pepper, tahini, and lemon juice to add a classic Middle Eastern component to this side dish.
Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken
For families who like to meal plan, this one-pot Middle Eastern recipe is a decision choice. It requires minimal prep time, too!
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Five pounds of skinless chicken thighs
- One cup of low-sodium chicken broth
- Two pounds of butternut squash or pumpkin (peeled and cubed)
- One cup of either chopped apricots or golden raisins
As for spices, combine one and a half teaspoons of cumin and cardamom with one teaspoon of turmeric, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Next, combine these spices with two large garlic cloves (minced) and two tablespoons of olive oil.
Place your chicken in the crockpot and coat it with your spice mixture. Then, add in the remainder of your ingredients and cook them over medium heat for approximately six hours, or until your chicken reaches 165 degrees.
Pairing: Moroccan Chicken can be served with quinoa, couscous, or rice. These options ensure that your main course remains the star of the show.
This is a mouthwatering take on a popular Mediterranean dish.
For this recipe, you will need:
- One cup of falafel mix (a combination of chickpeas and traditional Middle Eastern spices, such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric)
- Six boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- Olive Oil
First, toss the chicken in olive oil and coat it with a generous layer of falafel mix. Next, spray a baking pan with cooking spray and bake the chicken at 425 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. Again, you must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Once the cooking is complete, top this with your favorite Middle Eastern sauce and you’re all set!
Pairing: Shirazi salad, a cucumber and tomato mixture, makes for a refreshing and lighter side to pair with your chicken.
Chicken and Cheese Manousheh
Who doesn’t love pizza? The best way to make this dish with a toddler is to start with a pre-made crust. Then, prepare your chicken in the same way that you would to make chicken Shawarma. Once it is cooked and has had time to cool, shred the chicken. The rest of the prep is easy!
Simply brush the edges of the crust with olive oil and spread tomato paste across the center of the crust. Finally, sprinkle a mixture of mozzarella and feta cheeses as well as your shredded chicken and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has turned a golden brown.
Pairing: A Middle Eastern fruit salad or a Shirazi salad are both light and healthy options to partner with this rich and filling dish.
Chicken Pita Pockets
This is another quick and easy meal option for when you have leftovers lying around!
Whether you made chicken shawarma, kofta kebabs, or falafel-crusted chicken, grab some pita bread and fill it with your meat, hummus, tabouleh, tzatziki, fresh cucumber and tomato slices, red onion, fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of feta cheese.
Best of all, your toddler gets to be in control of the ingredients in their wrap, making this an extra fun lunchtime activity!
Pairing: Hummus and pita chips are a simple, yet satisfying, side to add to your pita pocket!
If you want your toddler to become a more adventurous eater, Middle Eastern food is a great option! These meals are not only healthy and delicious, but they are easy to make with your little ones.
If you want to learn more about preventing picky eating, read 13 Tips for Taking Picky Eaters Out to Eat (and Kid-Friendly Restaurants)