Dairy free, fuss free, one bowl carrot and orange cake

(dairy free if you can stop yourself from slathering dollops of butter or cheese)
I called up my vegetables and greens provider to ask him what carrots does he have. And he merrily told me all three. In india, the most popular ones are Black (deep maroon, darker than beetroot), the red ones and the usual yellow to orange ones. Colours galore in my kitchen and off course I told everyone I spoke to that day that am making carrot cake tomorrow. And strangely everyone told me ‘oh I love carrot cake’

This means that it is indeed a very popular cake. Come to think of it, most cafes and bakeries of any stature have this on their menu and mostly its a tower of cake with cream cheese layers. Not for me. I love carrot cake, but without all this fuss.

Without the walnuts and dry fruits seeped into it. Without all the extra cheese. Because a carrot cake is supposed to be simple. Carrot cake.

This recipe is a simple cake which can be mixed in a bowl. And baked . The end result is a loaf which can be used two ways. Like a stale bread, toasted and buttered. Or if you really want some cheese, then a mascarpone whipped with cream with a dash of orange zest and enough cointreau.
290 gms all-purpose flour
2 pinches table or fine sea salt
2 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free)
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
120 gms sunflower oil
145 gms dark brown sugar
3 l small organic eggs
235 ml strange juice fresh or otherwise
1 tsp vanilla extract
255 gms grated carrots

To make it better
1 slab good organic butter


200 ml full cream
200gms mascarpone cheese
30ml cointreau
1 tested orange
1 handful toasted walnuts for prettiness

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin (9×5-inch loaf pan). Keep this ready.
2. Grate the carrots and set aside. This will be folded into the cake mix in the end.
3. Add the eggs one at a time to the oil and orange juice mixture. Use a balloon whisk.
4. Throw in every thing else into this liquid and ensure all flour is blended in. Fold in the carrot in the end
5. Pour into the ready loaf tin and bake for about an hour. Ensure the cake is cooked through before you take it out of the oven.
6. Allow to cool and stash it away for 24 hours
7. This cake tastes best 18-24 hours old.
8. Serve toasted with butter
9. Or whip the cream, mascarpone, orange zest and cointreau and pour over the loaf. Top with the walnuts and slice away.

Woesar and cake, cake and cardamom, Cardamom Cake

This piece is from the archives, when I started writing, scribbling actually. This was the piece I shared with some people, some encouraging feedback and some not very. Also back then I wanted to write a book about how food and memory are interlinked, a book that explored how so much in our lives is a food memory. But that was then, and today I am sharing the story, abridged with current pictures and a recipe to boot. Reinventing the old in the new year are we?

On a cold September morning in Mcleodganj I was looking around for a bakery called Woesar. And after resisting the temptation of steamed potato momos and other cafés serving breakfast goodies, I sweated a bit, walked up and down the same street, asked everyone I could and then finally found it. And good that I did.

Most of the reviews of the place write about the famous carrot cake, but when I walked inside the door I could smell only one thing. Cardamom.

Fresh out of the oven, on the cooling rack, a cake. The bakery is owned by a lady and the bakery is named after her daughter. Woesar means the ‘rising sun’ in Tibetan. We exchanged greetings and I asked for the carrot cake, well the carrot was being grated before my eyes and would take a few hours to be on the plate. The bake of the morning was a cardamom cake.

I asked for a slice of the same and a cup of freshly pressed coffee.

I had my doubts. I probably associated cardamom to Indian desserts alone. The smell reminding me of the aate ka halwa challenges at home most winter, the turns we took to to churn out the perfect halwa with the humble aata, sugar, ghee and cardamom. The obvious winner each time being my father. The effort of roasting besan for ladoo which gets it’s finishing touches when ghee and cardamom come together with the pink roasted besan and sugar, painted a picture of my mother and her two daughters sitting with a big plate (parat) , three sets of palms churning out ladoos like halwais. The centre of a raj bhog, cardamom seeds, a little bit of semi-evaporated milk (khoya) as center of a giant rasgulla, my sisters favourite sweet and the many attempts she had made as a child to gobble them up at social does. The final sprinkle on a creamy kheer cooled by the full moon of Kartik Poornima, the seeds that added texture and flavour to a cold home churned kulfi, all memories that that smell of cardamom had evoked.

I have always felt memory over a period of time gets condensed into recollection by a colour or that melody which you recognise without any strain, more often than not it’s also by a smell.

To my utter surprise, the cake was just the right sweet and incredibly flavoured.

Back home I tried to recreate the cake. Failed the first time, simply because I got the amount of cardamom wrong, it was too less. Take your favourite vanilla cake recipe, and simply replace the vanilla with cardamom. The quantity of cardamom should be generous as the high heat of baking takes a lot of flavour away. Also the quality of cardamom.

I enjoyed every morsel of that slice of cake with my sugarless coffee. It was right after that I left Mcleodganj but that memory and the many others that were linked to that one fragrance stayed.
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda / sodium bicarbonate
1 tin (395g) sweetened condensed milk
100g unsalted butter, melted
175ml milk/water (I used 175ml full fat milk)
2 tsp Cardamom Powder

1. Pass all he dry ingredients through a sieve. This traps some air and makes the cake lighter.
2. Whisk together all the wet ingredients with a hand blender. Fold in all the dry ingredients in the wet mixture. Do not over mix as the cake will then become flat.
3. Pour the mixture in a greased and 20 cm lined cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. The time required in the oven can vary greatly with the amount of water/ milk added to the batter.
4 Once called, sprinkle with icing sugar and cardamom powder.

Netflix – Madam Secretary – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3501074/
Movie – Lady Bird – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4925292/

Listen –
Prince – When Doves Cry – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG3VcCAlUgE
The Cranberries – Linger – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6Kspj3OO0s
Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJxrX42WcjQ

Blog/ Webpage: https://www.cupcakejemma.com
Book: Men Without Women – Hakuri Murakami

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám


‘Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

Charnamrita inspired breakfast bowl

I vividly remember two occasions when I have had a Panchamrita/ Charnamrita. One was when my aunt had taken us two sisters for attending some Puja in an old haveli in Lucknow. I remember asking for a second helping of the 1-2 tablespoon serving that we were given. And the other time when a dear friend’s mother had summoned me to help mash bananas in a big pot of cold milk and yogurt mixture. I was then made aware that this has to be done by hand only.

Panchamrita/ Charnamrita is the offering to the Divine and then consumed also by those making the offering. Yogurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar, Indian Basil. Dry fruits, and bananas are added by others.

Because it is so tasty I thought about using the same ingredients with the addition of roasted Amarnath and Foxnut, which is very popular food during this fasting time and making a breakfast bowl.
1 cup Yogurt
2 cup Milk/ Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Honey (you could use a combination of sugar and honey)
1/4 cup Ghee
2 Bananas
1/2 cup Dry Fruits of your choice
1 cup Roasted Foxnut
1 cup Roasted Amarnath seeds
2-3 sprigs Indian Basil

1. Soak the torn Indian Basil leaves in the milk for a few hours.
2. Peel and mash the bananas in the yogurt. I did it by hand, just for the memory. It is fun. You can try it.
3. Mix the milk, ghee and honey into the banana yogurt mixture. Once every thing is assimilated add the dry fruits, roasted foxnut and roasted amarnath seeds.
4. Divide into bowls and serve.
5. Its another great bowl of food post a morning yoga flow.

A mouthful of coconut (energy balls to the world, laddoos to Indians)

Rituals in India include coconut in many ways. It is considered auspicious and is a staple across the vast coastline of India. It is now that the world has woken up to the possibilities of coconut and its dense nutritional value is fast gaining dominance in cooking, the world over.

During any festivities, yogic or ritualistic fasts, coconut and preparation from coconut is very common. So are coconut laddoos. Traditionally the coconut is cooked in milk, which I have replaced with coconut milk to become a completely plant based dessert.

The other thing done is that if coconut sugar is used the flavour is stronger and makes the laddoos more vegan friendly.

These are great post work out treats for me.
100 gms Desiccated coconut, plus some extra for rolling the laddoos in
50 gms Raw/ unrefined/ coconut sugar
1 tbsp Coconut oil
200 ml Coconut milk

1. Heat a heavy bottomed wok or pan. Ensure it remains on low heat all the time. The temptation to turn up the heat and expedite the process of cooking is very high. We are conscious cooking these days, so just enjoy the fragrance wafting in the house while preparing this. Also this will ensure that these coconut laddoos remain as white even when cooked
2. Add the coconut oil to the pan and the desiccated coconut and gently stir. Continue stirring till the decimated coconut is still white, but slightly toasted through and before it changes colour. Add the coconut milk and the sugar and continue stirring. Stir over low flame for about 8-10 minutes
3. Once the mixture is no longer loose and starts to leave the sides and comes together, turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. I like my laddoos to be very soft and hence I almost have a wobbly structure to my laddoos. But if you like a little more bite, cook the mixture a little more, till it is as dense as you like.
4. Once cooled, add some oil to your palms and form balls laddoos. Roll the balls/ laddoos in desiccated coconut and allow to cool. You can store it in the fridge as well, but they will fast disappear where ever you try to hide them.

Pancakes with Thyme, Grilled Mango and Mango Syrup

Crepes and mangoes I sorted for you all. Now well they are tricky, more technique requiring and demand more patience. But then pancakes are better. This one is a multigrain pancake. I usually take a big jar and just add various coarse grain flours and keep it for such handy use. So be more we proceed lets get this little tip on multigrain flour out of the way.

Multigrain flour.
Add all the flours below in a jar and shake it up.
250 gms Buckwheat Flour (Mothi /Kuttu Atta)
250 gms Maize Flour (Makai Atta)
250 gms Bengal Gram Flour (besan)
250 gms Sorghum Flour (Jowar Atta)
250 gms Pearl Millet Flour (Bajra Atta)
250 gms Oats Flour
250 gms Ragi Flour
500 gms Whole Wheat Flour
250 gms Rice Flour

So I made these same pancakes all the time. This one here had a mango syrup, grilled mangoes and there is thyme in the pancakes. Ya odd. But works beautifully. I personally love some cream with my Pancakes, so you will find them a regular feature.
Grilled mangoes:
2 ripe Fibrous Mangoes
2-3 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Ghee
Mango Syrup:
500 ml Mango Juice (they are only now going to be preserved ones)
1/2 lemon
1 cup 9 Grain Flour (as mentioned above)
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Ricotta
1 cup Diced Mango
1 pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Sodium bicarbonate
1 tsp Thyme
2-3 tbsp Ghee

1. For the grilled mangoes. Peal the mangoes and try not to lick your elbows while at it. Heat a grill pan and brush with some ghee. Place the mango chunks. Brush the chunks of mango with Honey and balsamic vinegar alternatively. Keep the flame low and keep turning the mango chunks on the grill pan. Once you can see that there is colour on the mangoes. Take them off the flame
2. Simultaneously take a heavy bottomed pan and add the mango juice and let it simmer away and reduce slowly. Keep stirring occasionally. Once it starts coating the back of a spoon, turn ff the heat and add the lemon juice. The lemon juice is to prevent any crystallisation and also makes the syrup more fresh and zingy
3. Heat a non stick pan and coat it with some ghee. In a mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients of the pancake batter. Then add the ricotta. Use a balloon whisk and add the buttermilk. Then fold in the mango chunks
4. Take a ladle and pour the batter on the greased nonstick pan. Allow the pancakes to form shape. Bubbles will emerge from the pancake and it will appear cooked on the sides. This is time to flip the pancakes. Place them on a serving plate once cooked on both sides.
5. Serve the pancakes with chunks of grilled Mano and mango syrup, some quark cheese or sour creme
Netflix – 13 Reasons Why – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1837492/
Movie – Room – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3170832/

Listen –
Come Together – Paul McCartney, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher – for War Child – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQVPZI7dvWs
The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8
Song for the Deaf in general – No One Know – Queens Of The Stone Age – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s88r_q7oufE

Blog/ Webpage: http://www.refinery29.com
Book: Beautiful Maria of My Soul – by. – Oscar Hijuelos – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7600936-beautiful-maria-of-my-soul

Moonlight, summer moonlight

‘Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,
All soft and still and fair;
The solemn hour of midnight
Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere,

But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,
Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.

And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid;
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.

– Emily Bronte

Mango Loaf with NO ADDED SUGAR

Mangoes. I guess we are so busy enjoying the fruit on its own when it is in season, that we forget that mangoes make for a great fruit to cook with. In keeping with the same aim, I tried to bake a mango loaf, just like a banana bread.

Why a mango loaf, because I thought that it can be a great base for stone fruit and yogurt or mascarpone , just like or better than a typical pound cake. And its true. Freshly pureed mango is airy and hence the cake is surprisingly light without any egg white whipping involved.

I served these with honey and fresh mangoes. You can choose any fruit and greek yogurt or whipped cream or better still mascarpone cheese. I was skeptical about using or not using vanilla extract in this recipe, worried that the cake will turn out to be more eggy than mongo-ey. But thankfully, they turned out to have only delicate mango flavour
125 gms butter
2 eggs
1 cup mango puree
100 gms all purpose flour
155 gms fine polenta
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp whole oats for garnishing on top of the loaf

  1. Cream the butter and the mango puree. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk through.
  2. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold the cake. Be careful to do this delicately so that the air incorporated in the mixture is not released.
  3. Pour the mixture in a parchment paper lined loaf tin of 10 inch length. Sprinkle the whole oats on top and bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 45 minute or till a poked skewer comes out clean.
  4. The loaf will rise and tends to split down the middle. Don’t worry about that.
  5. Serve with fruit of choice and cream/ icecream/ cheese.
    Netflix – Ranch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4998212/
    Movie – Binge watch all the LOTR series https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_(film_series)

John Mayer – Love on the weekend – John Mayer – Love on the Weekend (Audio) – YouTube
Gary BB Coleman – The sky is crying – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Gt46aX9Z4
Caught a Ghost – Time Co – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_LqBYI10fM
The Black Keys – Gold On The Ceiling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yCIDkFI7ew

Blog – Urban outfitter and the content on the blog is ever illuminating. http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com

Book – The Glass Castle by Jeannette https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7445.The_Glass_Castle


Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– Maya Angelou

Dunked Plums with Rosemary

Every summer we have a family ritual, one to go to the hills and two to stay at an orchard. The Himalayan foothills are resplendent with stone fruit at this time of the year, mostly July to August. Great yellow peaches, brilliant nectarines, wild plums, golden yellow apricots and lovely berries, wild golden raspberries included.

This recipe is a tribute to the plums. The colour, flavour and aroma are all celebrated in this cake, dotted with little moorish, squishy, jammy pools of plum, on a bed of crumbly butter cake.

This is a season repeat for me, time after time and is a no fail recipe. It marries plums with rosemary which is an excellent herb for desserts as well. This makes for a great tea cake and a tray cake. What I mean is that I have used a 10 inch cake tin for this cake and its best to use bigger cake tins/trays to ensure that there is just the right amount of cake and plum.
Rosemary Sugar
135 gms regular sugar
5-6 sprigs fresh rosemary

Dunked Plums
4 large plums cut into thick slices
150 ml plum liqueur
2-3 tbsp dark brown sugar

125 gms salted butter
2 large eggs
180 gms flour
2 tbsp water
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Blitz together the sugar and fresh dry rosemary leaves. Ensure that the rosemary is fresh, green and absolutely dry. You can make more of this sugar and use it for lemonades. It gives a definite zing to them
2. Stone and slice the plums. Add sugar and the liqueur and toss them together. Let this sit for atlas 1 hour.
3. Use 125 gas of the rosemary sugar (save the rest for dusting) the butter and cream it with a hand mixer for 2-3 minutes. Then add one egg at a time and whisk again. Now add the water and whisk. Do not whisk too much as it might result in a flat cake. Fold the sifted flour and baking powder and pour the mixture in a ten inch circular cake tin. (I used a teflon coated non stick cake tin and covered its bottom with baking paper)
4. Flatten and even out the cake batter with a spatula. Now the the plum chunks and arrange them on the batter, however tidily you can. Try not to eat any o =f the succulent, fragrant slippery pieces of plum while you are at it.
Place the cake in a 190 degree preheated oven for 40 minutes or thill the to is golden.
5. Take you time to cool the cake and a warm one while very aromatic, is quite delicate for slicing.
6. Enjoy with a cup of Darjeeling’s finest.
Netflix – I am looking for recommendations. I have spent this week watching trailers of some of the new stuff on Netflix, Bloodline, Ozark, 13 reasons why, etc.
Movie – Dunkirk Catch it while it is still in the cinemas. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/

Ben Lee – Gamble everything for love – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reIDepQzVJY
Don Browningg – How are you supposed to know. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmV40wxr8gY
Pearl Jam – Just Breathe – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5bAawsa7_s

Blog – AM taking you away from food this time to promote pointless, yet strangely cool, time-killing things on the internet. boingboing.net

Book – Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52036.Siddhartha

Poem – [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

– E. E. Cummings

Baked yogurt marries mango


Baked yogurt is not new to the Indian form of cooking – bhappa doi – steamed cardamom flavoured yogurt is a must in Bengali weddings. Its s cooled pot of pudding, that is dense and light and a little tart in flavour and has a great creamy texture. Its a rather simple combination of milk, hung yogurt and condensed milk.

With mangoes in season, i have realised that this king of fruit is not used enough in making desserts. The most common dessert made with ripe mangoes is aamras, pulped juicy fleshy mangoes mixed through with a splash of milk. 

So why not marry the 2 Indian sweet treats, bhapa doi + aamras. you could call the result baked mango yogurt. I had thought i would have to make many tweeps before it would turn out just right, but was first time lucky.

This dessert is also special because it does not have any added sugar. We are using the natural sugars from really ripe mangos to do the job



1 cup fresh mango puree
1 cup unsweetened condensed milk
1 cup hung yogurt

  1. Whisk together all the 3 ingredients in a bowl. The mixture should be of dropping consistency and coat the back of a spoon.
  2. Pour the ingredients into your favourite ramekins.
  3. Prepare a tray with water sufficient to half  immerse the ramekins.
  4. Bake in the oven at 180 degree C for 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful with the time because if the yogurt bakes longer the top gets a caramelised spot of colour. It still remains delicious, but for the sake of golden unspoilt colour, keep a close watch.
  5. Serve cold.



Netflix – The Blacklist – Raymond Reddington is a treat to watch. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2741602/
Movie – 13 Hours (2016) – Michael Bay gives us another gripping tale straight from Libya. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4172430/

Yesterday – The Beatles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo505ZyaCbA
Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWwgrjjIMXA
That’s how strong my love is – Otis Redding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7T9HKmERv0


Blog – A great couple sharing their travels, interest and home and fashion stories. http://newdarlings.com

Book – The Undercover Economist  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/70420.The_Undercover_Economist

Poem – If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


Not so chocolatey


What comes to mind when you hear chocolate cake ? Sinfully dark chocolate sponge, sandwiched with velvety ganache in the middle and topped with a silken chocolate icing. Well basically a chocolate strewn dream that puts a smile to the face and a serious craving could thus manifest.

If you relate to this then you are my kind. But I thought with regard to chocolate cake there were only my kind till a friend told me that chocolate yes, but not too chocolatey . Imagine my surprise. I would never shy away from a little  extra cocoa powder each time I am making a chocolate cake. And here there are adults who want less chocolate in the cake. Weird I thought but then I was also told by friends that some kids do not like overtly dark chocolate cake either. So I had to try once, especially for the approval from both the adults and the kids. 

So then I just got about to bake. This cake is inspired by the French Chiffon cakes where the fat is in the form of oil and not butter. And this one is eggless as well and very fudge-y. Its my no-fail recipe and this time of the year, spring around the corner or spring breaking out into summer, they were topped with fresh juicy red strawberries from my own farm. You can choose any fruit you like and actually the less chocolate in the cake pairs well with a lot of fruits.  So afternoon teas and coffee breaks are sorted.


250gms all purpose flour
200gms unrefined sugar/ powdered sugar
3tsp cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
200gms oil(any vegetable oil)
200gms yogurt
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp white vinegar
1/2cup water

Fresh strawberries to top the cake

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients and run it through a sieve. This makes the cake more airy.
  2. Mix all the wet ingredients
  3. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and ready the tin.
  4. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients. We need to work fast as the raising agents will start working as soon as they come in contact with wet ingredients.
  5. Transfer to to loaf tin and bake in a pre heated oven for 45 minutes at 180 Degree Centigrade or till the knife comes out clean from the cake centre
  6. Once done, cool on a wire rack. Top with sliced strawberries and dust with icing sugar. Ready steady dig.



Netflix – Rick and Morty. Imdb rates this at 9.3 and this is super comedy and animation.
Movie – Watch Poorna. The heroic story of the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest which is a biographical Indian film directed by Rahul Bose. His own depiction of a bureaucrat is fascinating.

Listen: I  am currently listening to (on loop)
Cigarettes After Sex – Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2LQdh42neg
Only Yesterday – Taken by Trees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfISngTyaR0
Rave on sad songs – Jason Collett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAva3m-HXlk

Read –

Blog: The pictures in this blog are totally captivating. http://www.greenkitchenstories.com
Book: Graphic Novels
Maus: The Complete Maus – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15195.The_Complete_Maus
Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 1: Rise of the Batmen – A part of DC Universe: Rebirth!, for all the Batman fans. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31222856-batman?utm_campaign=2017_2&utm_content=graphic_novels__comics_pos0&utm_medium=email&utm_source=new_releases

Strawberries : http://www.edwinmorgan.com/pop_carcanet_strawberries.html fullsizeoutput_b85

Seriously adult PBJ (Peanut Butter Jam) Sandwich


Peanut Butter Jelly/ Jam Sandwich. Childhood favourite. American Classic. PBJ. Hunger satiate-r . Things childhood was made of. I still remember the 5 PM hunger pangs that were sometimes only demanding a PBJ sandwich and a glass of milk.

My travels to America brings me to hotel morning breakfast buffets and quintessentially they always have these grape jelly and peanut butter blister packs and I do indulge in the rare slathering of the peanut butter on warm toast and the grape jelly.

Same is the case when am home, just that the peanut butter needs to be gourmet (not off the rack, pasty kind) and the jam or jelly, self made, washed down with a well brewed cup of darjeeling tea. But on a good day, when I am feeling really indulgent and I have some guests at home I re-interpret PBJ sandwich to an ice cream sandwich, where the meringue in the ice-cream stands out with a hint of chilli in the jam and salt in the peanuts, it sends the senses into a cold frenzy and just steals the show every single time.  I am going to try to flambé it one day.


for the Ice cream:
750 ml whipping cream
250 gms meringues
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract

for the berry jam
500 gms strawberry, hulled and cut in chunks
1 red chilli, deseeded if you cannot take the punch
150 gms brown sugar
1tbsp lemon juice

for the peanut brittle
100 gms roasted salted peanuts, off the packet and toast them a little
75 gms brown sugar

  1. Whip the cream. Use a very cold vessel to whip the cream to soft peaks. add the vanilla extract and sugar and whisk again.
  2. Add Meringue. Break the meringue into bits and fold into the cream. Line a loaf tin or similar tray with cling film. Pour the mixture and freezer for a day.
  3. Macerate the strawberries with the sugar. Add the chillies and simmer over gentle heat. Cook till the strawberries are soft and the liquid attains a syrupy state. Do a tasting at this stage to ensure that the strawberries are not too tart. If they are, add more sugar till it reaches a sweet and slight sour state. Add the lemon juice to finish.
  4. Caramelise the sugar. For the brittle take a heavy bottomed pan and heat the sugar through. Do not stir. Once the sugar starts to melt, shake the pan slightly to evenly spread the heat. Since we are using brown sugar, further caramelisation  is not needed.
  5. Add the peanuts. Once the sugar has melted add the roasted peanuts. If the peanuts are not salted, add a pinch of sea salt now.
  6. Pour the mixture on a greased plate. Once cool, pound it with a rolling pin to break in into crumbs. Don’t worry if they are not even. its better that way if you have some chunky pieces.
  7. Assemble the sandwich. Take the ice cream and cut a thin slice. Place it on a plate. Top it with the strawberry and chilli jam/ compote. Place another slice of ice cream on top of the compote. Sprinkle the peanut brittle crumbs on top. Dig in and watch the plates being licked

Tip 1 – you can cheat on the ice cream. I made mine from scratch. But you could just buy a brick of your favourite one and use that. Tubs are not recommended as we need the slabs to cut into bread like slices.

Tip 2 – works best in prime berry season. Use red berries for the drama. Strawberries/ raspberries/red currents. All three are great and they provide a different dimension/ texture to the jam/ jelly element of the ice cream sandwich

Tip 3 – you could buy your favourite Peanut Brittle and crumb it. I made mine from scratch again.


P.S. Since we are celebrating childhood, some more things to remind us of those days.

Watch: I would recommend two movies which were shown in school when I was bidding adieu to my all girls catholic convent in the last month of standard X and being oriented to tackle the big bad world.
Dead Poets Society – Robbie Williams remarkable work. The film is an inspiration for every generation and a must watch specially for every growing up child. “Make your lives extraordinary’ . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veYR3ZC9wMQ
Beaches  – a moving tale of two best friends and their lives.

Listen: Not straight from childhood, but lovely and reflective.
Thats how I got to Memphis – by Bobby Bare where Memphis signifies life. https://itun.es/in/D37bB?i=453492193
Jolene – This song was the was all over the 59th Grammy and you can pick any version. Do give Miley Cyrus cover The Backyard Sessions a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOwblaKmyVw
Come back from San Fransisco – The Magnetic Fields. A very soulful song that can make you want to sit with a cup of tea. https://itun.es/in/FfXXp?i=264705367
La Vie en Rose –  we have heard this song on runways and a multitude of films. Edith Piaf at her best. Various other artists have rendered this song including the great Louis Armstrong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzeLynj1GYM

Read:Take a moment and then some more.
Nigel Slater, he is not the cook who writes but a writer who cooks. He does write a lot with reference to memory and as an avid gardener myself, I look forward to his garden writing and photographs. www.nigelslater.com
Walt Whitman : O me! O Life! is like a chapter from my school poetry class, Dead Poets Society and also life itself. “that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/51568
Book: To Kill a Mocking Bird. In 2006 this book was regarded as “ a book which every adult must read before they die”. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2657.To_Kill_a_Mockingbird