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The Best Doughnuts you will ever eat OR big things we learn from little ones

It was one of those painful summer vacation visits to Kerala. I was about to turn 16 and spending the summer among relatives in gods-own-forsaken land (or as it seemed to my action-crazed teenage eyes) wasn’t a prospect I was happy at. Away from home, school, Delhi and all my friends, in the maddening midst of hoards of relatives was the last place I wanted to be. Any of you who have had scores of smirking distant relatives walk up to you and ask, “do you know who I am”; only to be offended at your embarrassed but honest reply that you have no idea know the pain of those excruciating summers in the lap of beauty. The significant silver lining was the impending delivery of my favourite aunt. Read more

Vetekrans – For butter or worse.

photo (14)After ages, I felt like myself in the kitchen yesterday. That is to say, like a baking obsessed maniac. Cooking up a storm for no rhyme or reason, with no mouths to feed. A massive cinnamon and cardamom wreath, an absolutely fantastic lunch of noodles with mango and aubergines with an abundance of herbs (which I must share just cos it was so so good), and a creamy meaty gravy with what I hoped would be tender, flaky biscuits that heartbreakingly turned out to be flat, slightly bitter slabs of sorrow. And last night, in my zeal and determination to give myself and the world a delicious, easy, true 100 percent whole wheat recipe, I found the night turn into morning in a whirl of time-lapse as my brain and laptop kept ticking.  Read more

When baking gets peachy

I’ve long been a fan of Dorie Greenspans Dimply plum cake and when I recently saw an enormously tempting pic Rutvika Charegaonkar had posted on Facebook, I knew I had to rustle this one again ASAP.

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Now, when I need to bake, I need to do bake and not having any plums wasn’t going to stop me either. To kill two birds with one stone, I decided to use up some peaches that I wasn’t in the mood to eat as God (pr Man) made them. After all, fruit MUST be consumed. Everyday.

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To take the whole thing up a notch and accentuate the peaches, I ditched the cardamom and vanilla and replaced them with 2tsp finely chopped basil leaves, 4 cloves, zest of 2 limes and half an orange. The eureka moment for me, though was when I held above four together in my hand, trying to smell them together and get a sense of wether I thought it would work. Did you know that cloves have a note that distinctly echoes the spicy notes of basil? And this is the same note that brings out some complexity in peaches! Meanwhile, citrus , especially lime underlines the fresh tart sweet juiciness of the fruit. How can this not be exciting? It’s such joy to see what flavour combinations can do. The fragrance of the cake alone was payoff enough and the layers of aromas, more delicious because of the unusual herbiness of basil. Perhaps it was the citrus and spice combo but for me, this cake tasted distinctly of Christmas.
Suffice to say, this is a much better way to eat peaches.

Do check out the recipe on Smitten Kitchens blog.

A return to baking, my first love

So after aaages, I’ve started baking again. And for all my intolerances, one thing is clear. Not much makes me as bone deep, soul warmingly happy as making a delicious dessert does. Not even eating it. I’ve missed baking far too much.

It’s time to start again. And the trick perhaps is, that I don’t need to eat it myself, just find mouths to feed?

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This confection inspired by one of the recipes in food52, made of layers of rich coffee flavoured cake and cinnamon meringue that sandwich some amazingly luxurious pastry cream was an exciting return to my oven.

All in all, I thought the dessert was a splendid idea but I confess I feel the cake layer were not exactly what I wanted. To do justice to the medley of beautiful flavours, the crackly, crunchy, nutty-sweet cinnamon layer of meringue and the silky banana-ey custard, the cake needs to either be lighter or crunchier. So that’s the plan for the next trial. And if all goes well, I know this will be one of the unusual, stunning desserts I’ve made. And perhaps one day, you can order it from Bombay Chowparty?

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My new favourite way with mushrooms

My grandmother (called chaachi by her siblings, children and grandchildren alike) was a formidable force in our family. In her white mundu, cotton top and large hoops of gold that dangled from her ears, she was ever the gracious, devout Syrian Catholic matriarch – Mother of 9 strapping lads and 2 girls, this was the real grip that kept the family, home, hearth and plantation going. Each of her kids regarded her with a mixture of fear, reverence and love. Each seemed convinced that s/he was the one she had a special bond with, her secret favourite. She had a proverb for every situation, advice for every concern, solution to every problem. What’s more, farm hands, cousins, neighbours..all sought out her secret Ayurvedic ‘green’ remedies to drive away pains, heal wounds and cure secret illnesses. To my young, citified eyes, chaachi was a rather intimidating figure. More the busy disciplinarian than the dada dadi ki kahaaniyaan type of grandmother, she was the last word on all things to do with farming, Catholicism, and upbringing of cattle and kids. And yet she was our last resort to get what we wanted out of our parents. If chaachi had agreed to a jaunt we had planned, no elder would ever have the guts to refute. Read more

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