Banana Date Bread With Lime

Suman masi on the left and my mom, right, in their younger days.

Today is my masi, my mother’s sister’s 81st birth anniversary. She passed away in 2013. She was a dear friend. I miss her terribly. My mom has two sisters, both older than her, Suman masi is her real sister and Raju masi is her cousin. Mom and Suman masi were very close when she was alive. Raju masi and mom are still very close. It’s rare to find such sibling love.

Masi was a natural motivator. She loved to cook. She inspired me to bake. She gifted my mom our first Tarla Dalal cookbook in the 1980s, Pleasures of Vegetarian Cooking. We now have a collection of Tarla Dalal cookbooks at home but masi’s gift is a treasure, well used, but kept safely in my library cupboard.

Masi’s cakes were so tasty and fragrant that I had to learn how to bake from her. She gifted me a gas oven when I was only twelve, and was I delighted! Her date and walnut cake was just so good. She not only inspired me to bake but she and my masa gave me a taste of freedom in another city, away from my parents. My sister Sheetal and I used to travel by train from Poona to Bombay to go stay with them during the summer vacation. We were just nine or ten years old. Then my masa and masi would give us a little money every day and send us walking in the early morning to the bakery down the road, so we could buy what ever we wanted to take back home for breakfast. We often took back sweet buns which we slathered with butter and dipped in piping hot tea. Tea! was a luxury then because we had to compulsorily drink milk at home.

She also taught me how to make the most delicious batata vada, a Gujarati and Maharashtrian favourite. Batata vada is spiced potato balls dipped in a gram flour paste and fried to heavenly crispness. My mother says this was my grandmother’s recipe. My grandmother was an ace at cooking, and that’s where we inherit all our cooking skills from, and the Kutchi Bhatia recipes too!

Masi had a whole collection of recipes written down in diaries, on pieces of paper, on envelopes, and cutouts from the Feminas and Woman’s Era magazines of those days. She donated many of these recipes to the SNDT College Library in Bombay. My cousin brother Harsh has her cook books. He is fond of cooking. It was she who along with my parents instilled in me a love for cookbooks, and the pleasures of reading! And to this day I search for a recipe from my collection of cookbooks rather than search for it on YouTube or on the net.

She loved young people. She got along well with them. She had friends, boys and girls, half her age or younger, who she inspired and motivated in one way or another.

She loved life. She was always discussing an ongoing cricket or tennis match with my dad.

Masi passed away in October 2013. She had a severe case of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease, and myasthenia gravis, a disease where the muscles degenerate and waste away.

I found this recipe in Samantha Seneviratne’s book, The Joys Of Baking. Masi would have loved it. She had a thing for dates. You must try it out too!

Banana Date Bread With Lime

Ingredients

6 tablespoons/ 3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon regular salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons finely grated lime zest (from 3 limes)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups mashed banana (from about 2 large bananas)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

6 ounces pitted dates, finely chopped

Instructions

1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour an 8 1/2 inch into 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.

2 In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

3 With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and lime zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the banana and vanilla and fold in the dates. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

4 Transfer th batter into the prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with tiny, moist crumbs attached, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to the wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Unmold the loaf, and let it cool completely.

Carrot Halwa For Christmas

Carrot Halwa in the making

Except for the effort you’ve got to put into this halwa stirring away continuously to cook it, it’s really an easy peasy dish to make. Not too many ingredients either. But when you taste it you’ll feel like a king or a queen. Carrot halwa turns out delicious.

Halwa is an Arabic word and the halwas that the middle eastern traders taught cooks in India during the Mughal period were made of flour and nuts. Carrot or gajar halwa on the other hand is made with ghee and milk and grated carrots and nuts and without flour and must have been introduced by some terrific Punjabi cooks to the Mughal emperors.

But where did carrots come from in the first place? Purple carrots were grown thousands of years ago in Afghanistan and Iran. The Dutch brought the orange carrot with them to India in the 17th century and when the cooks of Punjab got a taste of this delicious vegetable they lost no time in experimenting and making tasty dishes with it, sweet and savory. One of the dishes was gajar halwa.

Gajar, the Indian name for carrot is derived from gazar in Persian. So anyway, we were talking about Gajar halwa and it became very popular with the Mughals. And the dish spread to almost every part of India with the Mughal empire at its zenith.

We in India share many things in common with our Pakistani brothers and sisters. One of the things is food. Pakistanis love Gajar Halwa and make it for festivals like we do.

Here is the recipe of this easy peasy carrot halwa.

Carrot Halwa

This desi dessert is excellent to celebrate Christmas.

  • Milkmaid condensed milk 1 tin, 400 grams
  • Milk 5 cups
  • Carrots 1 kilogram
  • Ghee 2 teaspoons
  • Nuts and raisins 50 grams
  1. Grate carrots. Add to milk and bring to a boil. Cook on a slow fire, stirring ocassionally till milk dries up.

  2. Add Milkmaid. Cook on a slow fire till dry, stirring occasionally .

  3. Add ghee and cook for another 10 minutes

  4. Garnish with nuts, raisins and serve hot.

Breaking Bread With Deepa Narayan

Reading Deepa Narayan’s book CHUP-Breaking The Slience About India’s Women started a fire in my belly. I travelled to my village while reading the book and I wanted to rip apart the orthodox customs there. Many women in my village still practice purdah or the custom of covering their heads and faces in front of men folk. My family doesn’t endorse this hypocritical tradition.

That doesn’t mean Indian towns and cities fare better. The descrimination is as bad here. I’ll never forget what my hotelier boss in a prestigious hotel told me when I made my point of view. He said it was his job to think, not mine. What a jerk!

CHUP is a bomb. It explodes in your face. It slams you in the centre of your forehead. It shows you a mirror and you won’t like what you see. However old or young you are the book has something for you. It voices every woman’s frustrations with the patriarchal system. You will recognize with hard facts, figures and examples how Indian women are trained to habitually blame and self flagellate themselves.

Deepa Narayan is a strong and forceful writer. I love the way she uses Hindi words in her sentences, and in the title of one of the chapters in the book, Body: Women Don’t Have Bodies, Besharam or in another chapter called Isolation: I Am Alone And Afraid, Keep Women Apart, Akeli Hoon, Darti Hoon. She shows us how women are isolated and trampled upon. How families and society plot and design to oppress women in the name of izzat, respect and morality.

It was not always like this. There’s an example in the book of her grandmother who would have laughed if she knew that today’s women must wear undergarments below their clothing. True. None of our grandmothers were bound by their dress. The figures of statues in ancient temples are beautiful, voluptuous and nudity was perfectly normal and natural. We still worship Goddesses but it’s a sham.

Look how society owns women’s bodies. You must sit properly with legs crossed. You mustn’t wear sleeveless dresses. You must look thin, fair and pretty at all times and afcourse you must shut up and silently put up with marauding relatives.

One of the books she recommends caught my eye. The Body Adorned: Dissolving Boundaries Between Sacred And Profane In Indian Art. This one I must read. Also, Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office.

Tasty and fragrant chocolate banana muffins

So I made voluptuous banana and chocolate muffins, the recipe of which comes from Nigella Lawson that cooking diva, and feminist in her own right.

Chocolate Banana Muffins

Bite into these moist, dark beauties, and thank Nigella and me!

  • 3 very ripe or overripe bananas
  • 125 mililitres vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 grams soft light brown sugar
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F/ gas mark 6. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cases.

  2. Mash the bananas with hand or a fork to a pulp. Continuing to mash the bananas add the oil, eggs and sugar and mix.

  3. Mix the plain flour, cocoa powder and soda bicarbonate.

  4. Now add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, beating gently and lightly.

  5. Fill the mixture into the muffin cases upto 3/4 level and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the muffins are well risen and are a lovely brown colour.

  6. Cool for a few minutes and remove from the muffin pan.

Breaking Bread With Shanta Gokhale

Shanta Gokhale’s autobiography

Shanta Gokhale’s writing is effortless, flowing like rich smooth cream and fresh as the scent of lemon. I don’t know why I didn’t discover her sooner. I’m making up for precious lost time. I read her book without a break. It was unputdownable.

She was born a few years before both my parents, in 1939, and lives in the grand old city of Bombay, where my parents grew up and went to school and college, before my dad left to join the Air Force and then married mom.

I love her simple writing style. She writes with finesse. A woman of the world.

One of the author’s favorite dishes, Bombay Bhelpuri.

She’s original. She’s written about her life through her body and she treats us to exquisite pirouettes (she’s learnt Indian dance, among her many talents) with her life. She’s courageous. She’s had more than her fair share of ups and downs with two unsuccessful marriages, illness, shortage of money and bringing up two children all on her own. Still she is honest, sensitive and witty. The lady is a tough cookie!

She’s lived life on her own terms, not hankering for fame or fortune. And she’s written this book at the age of 78 and remembers names and incidents from her childhood!

I didn’t know that TV personality Renuka Shahane was her daughter, before I read her autobiography.

I’m thirsting for more of Shanta Gokhale’s writing, what a massive contribution she has made to the performing arts with her voluminous writings in both Marathi and English and her translations from English to Marathi and vice versa.

In her book she writes about a trifle pudding she had many many times as a navy wife during her first marriage and when she was being courted. I think she has bittersweet memories of the pudding. Perhaps, I’m reading too much into her writing.

I looked everywhere for a tasty Indian Navy trifle pudding recipe but I couldn’t find one so I asked one of my good friends who is married into the navy if they still make trifle puddings like they made all those years back. She reasoned that the English influence has been overruled and the current crop of Taj and Oberoi trained cooks and chefs do make a favorite trifle called Trunk of Tree.

Here is a delicious trifle pudding recipe that I’ve adapted from Kikky Sihota’s book The Ultimate Army Cookbook: A Memsahib Cooks. She calls it Boozy Trifle because it contains delicious amounts of rum in it, but her trifle contains no fruit, like the usual trifle pudding. I changed some of the ingredient quantities and added dry fruits to it. I used less cake and less cream. Turned out yum.

Trifle pudding adapted from Kikky Sihota’s Boozy Trifle.

Here’s the recipe.

Boozy Trifle

This recipe turns out yum. Go ahead and add more cream or whipped cream to the recipe and more sugar too, if you will.

  • 450 gms sponge cake
  • 5 tbsp jam
  • 4 tbsp rum
  • 3 heaped tbsp custard powder
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 200 ml fresh cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mixed nuts and raisins
  1. Cut the cake into 1/2 inch cubes.

  2. Mix the jam and 4 tbsp rum and heat till it melts.

  3. Now lightly mix the cake pieces with the rum jam mixture.

  4. Mix the custard powder, sugar, and milk and cook till thick. Remove from heat.

  5. Add the cocoa powder, 2 tbsp rum and butter and mix well.

  6. Gently mix the chocolate custard with the cake and jam without breaking or mashing the cake pieces. Fill this into a mold and freeze it for 4 hours.

  7. Remove and put in a serving dish.

  8. Cover the trifle completely with the cream.

  9. Now sprinkle nuts on the layer of cream and cake.

  10. Chill and serve.

Breaking Bread With Jerry Pinto

Jerry Pinto’s autobiographical novel.

Living life with a mentally ill person is difficult, especially if she’s so close, esepcially if she’s your mom. Jerry Pinto’s autobiographical novel, Em and the big Hoom is about suffering, it is endearing and touching and funny too.

It sure takes courage to write about it. People talk, they say all sorts of things. How could you write about a loved one for the money? How could you write about ‘shame’? But perhaps it’s a kind of catharsis, this writing. It saves you and heals others.

Not in the whole wide world is it easy to imagine the trauma that a mentally ill person and their family members go through. The mentally ill are stigmatized and society disclaims them as mad or retarded. If only we’d realize that this is an illness like any other, like diabetes or osteoporosis. It’s nobody’s fault, especially not the one who suffers. Anyone, you, me or somebody else could fall prey.

This book of stories edited by Jerry Pinto about a loved one with a mental illness.

Your serotonin and dopamine levels play havoc and no one, least of all you know what to do about them. Sometimes family and friends think you’re ok and all is well, but then disaster strikes.

But I can also tell you that sometimes, love wins the day. It is difficult, but love and care and support do win the day.

Does the illness creep in through your genes or is the devastation caused by environmental factors, or both? Depression, bipolar disorder, autism, schizophrenia, doctors say they’re genetic but.. a hundred questions, science still doesn’t have answers.

In the book Em and her family drink tea by the gallons. Em, the mom has a sweet tooth. She loves to douse her tea with spoonfuls of sugar and eat chocolates and mithai.

These very chocolatey muffins are made in memory of Em. She would have delighted in the loads of chocolate in them.

The recipe is adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking, From My Home To Yours.

Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins

You can call them muffins or cupcakes, whatever you like, and anytime is a good time to eat these full of chocolate muffins, at breakfast, tea, or maybe even as a sweetdish.

  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 150 gms bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups all purpose or plain flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn baking soda or soda bicarb
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the muffin molds in the muffin pan or fit them with paper muffin cups.

  2. Mix the butter and half the chocolate in a thick bottomed pan and melt over a saucepan of simmering water. Or, melt in a microwave.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  4. In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract until well combined.

  5. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted chocolate and butter onto the dry ingredients and mix lightly and quickly. Don’t worry if there are some lumps in the batter. But don’t overmix the batter.

  6. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. And divide the batter equally between the 12 muffin cups.

  7. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean. Remove the muffin pan from the oven, transfer to a rack, cool for 5 minutes and then remove the muffins from their molds.

This beautiful song then, True Colours, for God’s specially loved ones.

Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf

I had forgotten how tasty this loaf is until our next door neighbor in the village brought us a whole bunch of juicy lemons from the lemon tree in his garden. Seeing the lemons brought back memories of this lemon loaf that was my first bake from the book Home Sweet Home by Tarek Malouf. I haven’t baked too many cakes from Tarek Malouf’s book yet but I’m sure that if the recipes taste as good as this cake I’ve baked, then I will try more recipes from his book.

Tarek Malouf has a fantastic bakery in London called Hummingbird Bakery. I’ve visited the branch in the Dubai Mall in Dubai and tasted some yummy goodies there.

So here is the recipe.

Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf

Lemon cakes and lemon loaves are too tempting to resist and this one is extra special because it has yeast in it. Eat it fresh. It gets stale if kept too long.

For the dough

  • 75 ml luke warm whole milk
  • 60 ml tepid water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50 gms caster sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
  • 350 gms plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 55 gms unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 60 gms unsalted butter
  • 100 gms caster sugar
  • Grated zest of three lemons

For the topping

  • 90 gms full fat cream cheese
  • 40 gms icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus extra to decorate
  1. Grease the loaf tin and dust with flour.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the warm milk, water, salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar and the dried active yeast. Set aside for 30 minutes or until a foam forms on the surface.

  3. In a large mixing bowl mix the flour and remaining sugar. Make a well in the centre.

  4. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. When the yeast liquid is ready add the eggs, vanilla extract and melted butter to the yeast mixture.

  5. Pour the liquids into the well of the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula to form a dough. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth.

  6. Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover tightly with cling film and allow to prove in a warm place, for approximately 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

  7. While the dough proves, make the lemon sugar filling. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. In a medium bowl mix the sugar, lemon zest and melted butter together. Set aside in a warm place so that the butter doesn’t solidify again.

  8. Once the dough has proved remove it from the bowl. Gently knock the dough back. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is 12 x 15 inches. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 equal strips with a sharp knife.

  9. With a pastry brush coat each strip with the lemon sugar filling. Carefully lift the strips and pile them on top of each other. Cut the pile of strips into 6 equal square stacks. Carefully lift each stack and place it in the loaf tin, cut side facing up. Place each stack next to each other in the tin, packing them to form a loaf.

  10. Wrap the tin in cling film and set aside the dough to rise again for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

  11. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius, 325 degrees Fahrenheit, Gas mark 3, and bake the loaf for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Keep aside to cool slightly.

  12. To make the lemon cream cheese topping, with a hand held electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer mix the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice, zest and milk and mix well until smooth.

  13. Once the lemon loaf has cooled slightly, remove it from the tin and top with the lemon topping and lemon zest. Serve warm.

Date And Split Gram Lentils Halwa

It was my birthday the other day and I didn’t want to bake a cake for a change. Actually, I wanted to try out a new recipe that I’d read about in this little book by Nita Mehta called Taste Of Hyderabad.

Ahmedabad is a cauldron in the summers. On my birthday too, the temperature soared. We didn’t feel like stepping out in the sun, so we didn’t eat out, or shop, but instead I cooked a feast for family and friends. I made date and split gram lentils halwa, mango ice cream, paneer kulchas and sambharia, a mouthwatering Gujarati stuffed vegetable dish. Those who have eaten it will vouch for its yummyness and I’ll post its recipe on my blog one of these days. But first, the recipe of the delicious halwa.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Nita Mehta’s recipe, as I said. However, I used 500 gms seedless dates instead of 500 gms seeded dates in the recipe and it came out delicious. You may want to adjust the quantity of sugar in the recipe though.

Date And Split Gram Lentils Halwa

This sweet dish tastes delectable. Make it and your guests will drool!

  • 500 gms seedless dates
  • 1 1/2 cups split gram lentils ( channe ki dal)
  • 1 1/2 litres milk
  • 1 1/2 cups clarified butter (ghee)
  • 2 drops screwpine (kewra) essence
  • 15 almonds blanched, peeled and slivered
  • A few pistachios chopped
  • 1 tspn cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar or to taste
  1. Was the split gram lentils or chaane ki dal and put them in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the milk and once it begins to boil cook on a low flame for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and the milk has dried up. Stir every few minutes to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep the milk and lentils mixture aside to cool. Grind the mixture to a paste.

  2. Wash the dates and boil in 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Remove from fire and let cool. Mash the dates with your hands.

  3. Mix the mashed dates with the lentil paste.

  4. Heat the ghee in a clean heavy bottom pan. Add the dates and lentil mixture and fry well. Check for sweetness and add sugar if required.

  5. Add the kewra essence and cardamom powder and stir. Decorate with slivered almonds and chopped pistachios. Serve hot or warm.

Whole-wheat Flour Ladoos

When my 9 year old nephew was younger, he loved watching Chota Bheem (Chota Bheem which literally means little Bheem, is an animated TV series that focuses on the adventures of a boy named Bheem and his friends in the fictional kingdom of Dholakpur. In this series, Bheem and his friends are usually involved in protecting Raja Indravarma, the king of Dholakpur, and his kingdom from various evil forces. Sometimes they also help other kingdoms. It is one of the most popular animated series for children in India- Wikipedia). Chota Bheem loves ladoos and therefore so do all little kids who watch it, I don’t know of a single kid who watches Chota Bheem and doesn’t demand the energy giving ladoos that he eats. My nephew must have ladoos, the owner of the beauty parlor that I go to, her grand daughter must have ladoos too!

So this time I’m posting a recipe of ladoos made from whole-wheat flour that my nephew loves. We make ladoos from many different ingredients in India but atta or whole-wheat flour ladoos are delicious and easy to make.

Ladoos are also served as an offering to Lord Ganesha. He just loves them.

These whole wheat flour ladoos are popular among the Sindhi community in India.

You can buy whole-wheat flour and the other ingredients required to make these ladoos at any Indian store.

Here’s the recipe.

Whole-wheat Flour Ladoos

Kids and adults alike will love this Indian sweet.

  • 1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup ghee or clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup ground sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts and raisins
  1. Melt ghee in a heavy bottomed pan on a medium flame. Roast the whole-wheat flour in the ghee on a slow flame for about 10 minutes or until it turns golden brown and a nice aroma emanates from it.

  2. Remove from the stove and spread the roasted flour on a tray to cool.

  3. Add the ground sugar and chopped nuts and raisins to the flour, mix well, and make table tennis sized balls with the mixture. You might need to apply some ghee on your hands to make the balls. There you go. The ladoos are ready to eat!

Almond Pudding

This recipe for almond pudding is a middle eastern one, and I got it from Anissa Helou’s book, Sweet Middle East. The pudding is subtly flavored with almonds, and garnished with pistas. It is delicious, to say the least, eaten at room temperature or better still, cold from the refrigerator. And oh! I added regular granulated sugar instead of organic cane sugar to the pudding.

It is a simple pudding to make but I love its fresh, delicate taste. I must admit I had no clue how it would taste before making it, I’d never tried making something like this before, but I was pleasantly surprised when the pudding was ready.

And, here’s an interesting tidbit. This pudding is called Kishk Al-Fuqara in Arabic. Fuqara means poor in Arabic, but as the author herself says, none of the ingredients in this dish are associated with poverty so how the name came about is a mystery.

We’ve all relished a variety of middle eastern savory dishes but the sweets and desserts of this region remain unknown to many of us. Try this dessert at home, whether you’re a novice, cooking expert, traveler, or just a TV food programme addict.

Almond Pudding

Make this delicately flavored almond pudding for an occasion or anytime. Your folks will love it.

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 60 gms or 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 40 gms or 1/4 cup rice flour or cornstarch
  • 60 gms or 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Some slivered or chopped pistachios
  1. Put 3 1/2 cups milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally-watch it toward the end so as not to let it boil over. As it starts to boil add the almond meal. Turn the heat to medium low and let simmer, stirring regularly, until the almond meal has softened, about 10 minutes.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the rice flour or cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup milk, stirring until completely smooth. Slowly whisk the starch mixture into the simmering milk and cook, whisking all the time, for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened.

  3. Add the sugar and continue whisking until completely dissolved. Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.

  4. Pour the pudding into one large serving bowl or 4 to 6 individual bowls. Let cool. Serve at room temperature garnished with pistachios or refrigerate to serve chilled, garnishing the pudding just before serving.



Black Pepper, Dark Chocolate, And Cranberry Bread

This fantastic bread inspired by and adapted from Samantha Seneviratne’s recipe is worth dying for! It’s healthy, not so much sugar or butter in it and tasty too, the freshly ground pepper gives it a luxurious, smoky flavor. Seneviratne has Sri Lankan roots and her baking recipes contain delicious spices grown in her homeland.

Make it for guests, they will love it, and eat it warm from the oven. Of course you can store it in the fridge, Ahmedabad summers don’t allow you to keep anything outside for too long, and eat it cold, it still tastes awesome.

The pepper flavor in it intensifies over a period of a day or two. And I put in a real pepper punch, 2 teaspoons instead of 1 1/2 like she said. Then I also used cranberries instead of tart cherries because I didn’t have them and used salted butter instead of unsalted. The bread came out fabulous.

So go ahead and enjoy the recipe.

Black Pepper, Dark Chocolate And Cranberry Bread

Delicious, with chocolate chunks, cranberries and a pepper punch so good this bread is a bite of heaven.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 255 gms (2 cups) plain flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 tspns freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tspns baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn soda bicarbonate or baking soda
  • 1/2 tspn salt, if you’re using unsalted butter.
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 65 gms (1/2 cup) semisweet chocolate (50-60% cacao), chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/ 175 degrees C. Grease and flour a 4 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix the plain flour, pepper, baking powder, soda bicarbonate, and salt if using.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla.

  4. Add half the flour mix, and beat gently until just combined. Add the sour cream and milk and mix briefly. Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and cranberries.

  5. Put the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown in color, approximately 50 minutes, or when a skewer inserted into the bread comes out with some moist crumbs sticking to it.

  6. Let the bread cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan, turn it right side up, and let it cool completely.

Go by your nose when it comes to checking to see if the cake is baked, not just the time given in the recipe. Every oven is different and if the cake smells baked it’s time to take it out of the oven even if it’s sooner than the given time in the recipe.