Crazy Cake| Poor Man’s Cake| Mixed-Up Cake| WW II Cake| Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake| Depression Cake| Whacky Cake| 3-Hole Cake

It was very recently that I came across a recipe for something called Crazy Cake. The recipe sounded very simple, and promised to deliver some amazing cake. I just HAD to try it out! The end result, I must say, was absolutely gorgeous!

This is a no-egg, no-milk, no-butter cake, which in itself was astonishing to me. In spite of these missing ingredients, the cake tastes lovely, a far cry from the soggy messes that boxed cakes usually turn out to be. Apparently, this recipe was discovered during World War II or the Great Depression, when the rich ingredients needed to make cakes were very hard to come by. People resorted to making cakes that were low on ingredients, but high on flavour, such as this one. That is why this cake goes by the names of WW II Cake and Depression Cake. Some prefer to call it Poor Man’s Cake or Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake, too. (Necessity is the mother of invention – point proven!)

As I stated earlier, this cake is super easy to make. You don’t even need a separate bowl for mixing the batter – you can do that in the same tin you are going to bake the cake in. That is the reason the cake is also called Mixed-Up Cake.

In the olden days, the flour and soda bicarb and sugar needed for this cake would be taken in a cake tin, mixed up, and three holes would be made in the dry ingredients for the liquid ingredients to go in – oil, white vinegar, and vanilla extract. Everything would be whisked together, and bam! The cake tin would go into the oven. (Something to do with having fewer bowls to wash up later?) Anyways, so that is what got this cake another name – 3-Hole Cake.

Thanks to the very limited number of ingredients it requires, many are doubtful, when they read the recipe, of whether the end product will actually taste like cake! This fact earned the cake the name of Crazy Cake and Whacky Cake.

How do I not go ahead and prepare this cake, which has so much of history behind it? Ingredients were assembled quickly, and the cake was made, to be received by much love and the licking of fingers and spoons by the extended family. This is so going to be made again and again and again in my kitchen!

There are a number of recipes for this cake on the Internet, each with a few little variations. I decided to follow this particular one, because it appealed to me the most. I took her advice and went for a chocolate ganache for the cake, too, which uplifted the taste like anything. Even without the ganache, the cake tastes moist and delicious, but I would say go the whole hog!

A slice of Depression Cake!

Without further ado, here goes the recipe for the cake. I absolutely recommend trying this out to you!

Ingredients (yields a medium-sized cake, about 6 big pieces):

For the cake:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or maida

1 cup sugar, powdered

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsweetened chocolate powder (cocoa)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons olive oil (I used olive oil, but the original recipe calls for vegetable oil)

1 cup water

For the chocolate ganache:

150 ml whipping cream (I used Amul)

200 grams good-quality milk chocolate, grated (I used Amul)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil (Again, the original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I used olive oil)


Prepare the chocolate ganache first and then go on to bake the cake. This way, the ganache will have time to chill in the refrigerator while the cake is getting done.

For the ganache:

  1. Keep the grated milk chocolate ready in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the whipping cream in a saucepan, on a high flame, stirring intermittently.
  3. Switch off the gas just when the cream begins to boil.
  4. Mix the olive oil with the cream, thoroughly.
  5. Pour the cream mixture over the grated milk chocolate in the bowl.
  6. Whisk well to form a smooth, creamy ganache with no lumps.
  7. Let the ganache cool down a bit.
  8. Let the ganache chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour.

For the cake:

You could mix the cake batter in the same tin that you are going to bake it in, but I used a mixing bowl for the sake of less messiness.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, powdered sugar, baking soda, and cocoa well in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the olive oil, white vinegar, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the water to the mixing bowl, at room temperature.
  5. Whisk to form a smooth, lump-free batter.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased cake tin.
  7. Bake at about 160 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of cake comes out clean.
  8. Let it cool down a bit, and then remove it onto a serving platter.


  1. When the cake has cooled down a little, pour the chilled chocolate ganache over the cake evenly.
  2. If you want to, you could decorate the cake using sprinkles or dry fruits.

Simple, right? Why don’t you try it out, too? Don’t forget to let me know how it turned out for you!

PS: This cake tastes better the day after you actually bake it, as I have found all home-baked cakes behave. If you plan to make the cake for a special occasion, do take this into consideration!


A Bit Of Ahmedabad In Bangalore: Water Chestnuts Aka Singoda

Once upon a time, back when I used to live in Ahmedabad, the arrival of winter used to be synonymous with the appearance of steamed water chestnuts by road-side vendors. I would spot these black lumps, known as ‘Singoda’ in Gujarati, in big baskets on the roads, steam rising out of them, and would know for sure that winter was about to descend on us very soon, with full force. Sure enough, it would, soon.

Water chestnuts or singoda, also known in other parts of India as ‘Singhade’ never looked appealing to me. In fact, I still think they are one of the weirdest-looking food items. Back in Ahmedabad, as a child, I would never stop by for a paper cone of the steamed chestnuts, when they were in season. I don’t know when I the foodie in me started taking over the rational part of me – maybe when I was in Class X or so – but it was then that I tried out these. And loved them. And then, went on having them every winter. Then, shifting to Bangalore happened and I never saw them again.

Recently, though, I was overjoyed to spot raw water chestnuts at quite a few vegetable shops around the city. I couldn’t resist buying some, though I didn’t know how to cook them. The OH has never had these, and he knows they are a favourite winter memory from Ahmedabad. I had to show him what they taste like, right?

The raw water chestnuts or singoda (Amma photographs, Bubboo photobombs!)

So, some frantic searching on the Internet happened, as did asking friends for suggestions on how to use the water chestnuts. It all turned out to be so very simple in the end. I steamed them in a pressure cooker for three whistles, unpeeled, after cutting off a small opening in the peel. When the steam had escaped entirely, we peeled them and ate the kernel, still warm. There was that long-ago nutty, bland flavour in my mouth, all over again.

A water chestnut after steaming

I am usually concerned about where the vegetables, fruits and other products we eat come from. I am not really happy about vegetables and fruits travelling half-way across the globe to meet me and my family. I would rather meet them in their home-town. But, for certain things, I make an exception. This is one of those things. Irrespective of where these singoda came from, I am glad I found this little part of Ahmedabad where I stay now.

I am not sure if these water chestnuts are the same as the ones used in Chinese dishes. I will try to find out. If I can find more of these chestnuts, I would love to bring them home again, and this time around, I would like to try doing something different with them. If you have any bright ideas, please do let me know!

The Babe And Her New-Found Love

Bubboo clearly has some deep connection with our refrigerator that we do not understand. It is her latest favourite plaything in the entire world.

At any given point of time, we just have to open the refrigerator door and, irrespective of what she is doing or the kind of mood that she is in, Bubboo will come running to it. She loves standing up with the support of the refrigerator shelves, and exploring the vegetables and jars and vessels and what not that are stored within.


Is it any wonder that not much cooking is happening in the kitchen when Bubboo is around, these days? :)

Clearly, the city’s chilly winter days are a matter of no concern to the child.

The Story Of A First-Birthday Celebration

Birthdays are always special, irrespective of the age of the person who is having one. They are days on which the birthday person deserves special somethings, a lot of love and warmth, care, and surprises – little and big. A A piece of me always withers away whenever anyone’s special day – like a birthday – passes by just like that, without even a little sweet gesture or surprise to mark it.

First birthdays are all the more special, because they are the very first in a little person’s life. The little person might be too little to realise that it is his/her first birthday, but it deserves something special just the same. When Bubboo’s first birthday came by recently, I wanted her to have the same special treatment, too.

On the actual day of her birthday, Amma wasn’t around – she had to go to Chennai for a family emergency. The husband worked from home on that day, and I took the day off my projects too, spending every minute of the day with Bubboo. A simple home-made lunch was enjoyed, relaxedly. A visit to the nearby temple happened in the evening, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. Bubboo behaved beautifully, and we managed to have a calm dinner. Phone calls from friends and family followed, and then, we fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.

I come back to the point of the post – the cake. We had a little cake-cutting ceremony for Bubboo the weekend after her actual birthday, when Amma was back. We wanted a lot of kids at her birthday, for Bubboo to know them and for them to know Bubboo and recognise a potential friend in her. The OH and I needed to bond with our new neighbours, too. So, we planned out a little celebration in our new apartment, and I think we executed it well, in spite of a whole lot of stresses and health issues.

I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of a store-bought cake for the celebration. This is just my two rupees and not meant to cause offense to anyone, but I found the idea of buying a ready-made cake from a bakery a little impersonal. I didn’t want something that some nameless, faceless baker had baked for a nameless, faceless child. I wanted something created specially for Bubboo, something that would look different from the run-of-the-mill cakes. I, being my usual contradictory self, did not want anything overboard or way too expensive, either. For days, I was stuck in a dilemma – I didn’t want a lavish, personalised cake on which I would spend thousands of rupees, for I’d rather do that when Bubboo is older and will get happier on seeing an extraordinary cake created keeping her current obsessions in mind. I didn’t want Bubboo to get used to lavish, extravagant celebrations all the time, either. At the same time, I wanted the cake to be special. I didn’t know how to make it special, though. I could have made the cake at home myself, but I don’t trust myself with baking for a crowd. The OH, being the OH, left me to find the solution from somewhere within myself and take a suitable decision.

It was then that I found a very promising home baker, who works as an HR executive and is mother to a daughter, too. I saw her work and tasted a few samples, and was floored. Her charges were quite reasonable too – if we decided to go with her, we would be spending more or less the same amount we would if we bought the cake from a bakery. My decision was made. It had to be her! Things soon fell into place. The moment I saw a pink-and-white cake full of roses in her album, I knew that was the cake for Bubboo’s birthday celebration. The colours matched with her pink-and-white birthday dress too, one that we had picked out months ago. And why did we get a pink-and-white dress? Because that was the first one that the OH and I fell in love with when we went birthday-dress hunting. The dress is more white than pink, enough white to stand out from the garish, cake-like dresses that are being sold for little girls these days, and enough pink for the little girl in me to love. Beat the stereotypes, but you don’t have to let go of what you love, right?

In retrospect, choosing this home baker turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever took. The lady involved me at various stages throughout the cake-making process, and ensured that I was completely satisfied with it before I paid for it. A number of WhatsApp messages and SMSes were exchanged to get it just right. An absolutely perfect, wonderfully juicy and delicious Black Forest cake was delivered to us right on time. The cake was much appreciated by everyone at the party, too. My daughter had her first sampling of cake at the party, and I am glad it was of a cake baked with a whole lot of love and warmth, by another mother.


Bubboo’s pink-and-white cake

The cake-cutting party was a simple, homely affair. Close family members and neighbours we are getting closer to attended. Like we wanted, there were a lot of kids at the celebration. Bubboo’s cousins blew up a lot of balloons, and the brother-in-law, his wife, the OH, and I put them up on the walls and ceiling, along with a lot of crepe paper garlands and paper fans. The overall effect was simple, but colourful and warm and lovely. The OH and I wore pink-and-white outfits, too. Bubboo didn’t cry, like I had worried she would, and the cake was cut to a lot of claps and kisses. One of my ex-colleagues, who is a great photographer, captured the event on camera.

We had chosen a simple menu for the party, a mix of North Indian and South Indian food that everyone could enjoy. One of the OH’s friends, who is into the catering business, delivered the food, and it was much loved, too. I chose cake pops as return gifts, delivered by the same home baker we got the cake from. For close family, we gave out personalised Thank You cards with Bubboo’s picture on them, hand-made by yours truly.

So, that’s how Bubboo’s first birthday celebration went, and she seemed to enjoy it, too. This event surely has taught a few things to the OH and me, some lessons that are going to hold us in good stead in life. I hope this is only the beginning of many such happy, warm celebrations for Bubboo. I hope this will go on to teach her the value of the love of family and friends, and how everything falls into place when they are around for one. I hope this teaches her to celebrate occasions as best as one can, considering the given circumstances. I hope she learns to do certain little things to make special occasions special, in spite of there being a lot of challenges and stresses in everyday life. I hope this teaches her that there are a lot of tasks in life that can be outsourced, but there are things that bring great pleasure if done by oneself. I hope she learns to put thought into all of her actions, too, small and big.

I hope Bubboo will grow to love and cherish the story of her first birthday celebrations, and look at pictures from the event with a smile on her face.

Dark Chocolate Sandwich: Mission Accomplished

You guys know of my penchant to try out crazy, different food stuff, right? Well, here I go again. :)

We were shopping at the Star Bazaar in Koramangala recently when we came upon a stall called Hungry World, selling a variety of sandwiches. They also had chocolate sandwiches on offer, including those made with white and dark chocolate, among other varieties. How could I resist? I went ahead and bought their Dark Chocolate Sandwich, which the guy at the counter recommended. I wasn’t disappointed.

Dark Chocolate Sandwich at Hungry World
Dark Chocolate Sandwich at Hungry World

The sandwich tasted sweet, but not cloyingly so. The slightly salted bread and the dark chocolate made for an interesting combination of tastes. I had heard of chocolate sandwiches in Bangalore long, long, long ago, but had never had a chance to try them out. I am glad I could do that, now!

Would I have this sandwich again? Yes, I would. Maybe not as a main course while I am super hungry (when I am hungry, I need to have something savoury!), but definitely as a dessert. :)

Have you had a chocolate sandwich? Did you like it? Which places in Bangalore would you recommend for the same?


You might also be interested in reading about the other seemingly crazy things we have tried out so far: Ice cream chaat, bhoo chakra gadde, rasgulla chaat, chilli chocolate, fried ice cream, and paper sweet. :)


Hello, there! Hope you all had a very happy Diwali! We sure did. :)

Diwali and rangolis go hand in hand, right? Well, I do know of people making beautiful, beautiful rangolis that are so life-like that it is difficult to believe they are rangolis. I have never had a chance to see these beauties in person, though. Till yesterday.

Yesterday, I was spell-bound to watch a neighbour preparing a Durga Maa rangoli at their doorstep, for Diwali. It was so beautifully – and effortlessly – done that I couldn’t stop myself from exclaiming over its prettiness several times over. If I hadn’t seen the rangoli in the process of preparation, I wouldn’t have believed that it was a rangoli or that it was made without a stencil. It looked like a painting or a wall-hanging, rather. But a rangoli it was, indeed, and one made without a stencil.

Take a look for yourself!

Diwali rangoli by one of our neighbours

Over and over again, I am awed at the uncommon talent that the seemingly common people around me possess. This is one of such instances. Once again, I am awed at the rich culture that exists in every nook and corner of my country – I reiterate, I prefer to look at things like this and feel happy, rather than feel cynical about the many sad and bad things that exist in my country, too.

I am much humbled.

Just Read

Love Virtually – Daniel Glattauer

Genre: Contemporary fiction, epistolary

Emmi Rothner and Leo Leike connect with each other by chance, by a small mistake in the ID of an e-mail that Emmi is writing. Soon enough, e-mails begin to flow back and forth between them, and a virtual friendship develops. Secrets are shared, and lives are talked about. In course of time, there begins building up between Emmi and Leo the pressure to meet up, in reality, out of the confines of their computer screens. Will the two meet up? Will their relationship survive the meeting? Will the real Emmi and Leo match up to their virtual counterparts? All that and more forms Daniel Glattauer’s book Love Virtually.

With such an interesting premise, how could I not pick up this book? What’s more, the story is told entirely in the form of e-mails, making this an epistolary novel, something I have always loved reading. Sadly, the book (a translation into English from the original German) disappointed me hugely. It was a big, big, big let-down. In fact, it was so ‘Meh!’ that I found it hard to plod through it to the end, but I kept going only because, these days, I am getting averse to leaving books unfinished. In the end, though, the book left me feeling frustrated and disgusted, with a bitter feeling in me.

The storyline drags, and the e-mails between Emmi and Leo seem to have no substance after the first few pages. Neither of the characters are likeable. You begin to wonder what the whole point of the e-mail exchange is, after a point. This is definitely not a book that I would recommend to anyone. If you come across this one in a bookstore, do yourself a favour and steer clear of it, I would say.

The Supreme Macaroni Company – Adriana Trigiani

Genre: Chick-lit, contemporary fiction

I loved Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine, when I read them last year. So, when I learnt that there was a sequel to these two books, The Supreme Macaroni Company, I wanted to get my hands on it immediately. I managed to get a copy, too, but didn’t read it all this time because I hadn’t heard very positive things about this book. Recently, though, I decided to risk it and begin reading this book, only to be utterly disappointed.

The Supreme Macaroni Company starts where Brava, Valentine left off – at the marriage proposal that Valentine receives and accepts. This book, though, lacks the punch that the previous Valentine books had, and fails to make an impact. It feels as if the author has dashed off the novel in a hurry, without giving enough thought to the detailed sketching of her characters. Valentine comes across as confused and hard-headed, and not very likeable. The end of the story is very abrupt and disappointing. Overall, I felt very dissatisfied reading this book.

If you have read the first two books in the Valentine series and loved them, you would do better to avoid this one. Pretend that a sequel never existed, will you?

Mrs. Funnybones – Twinkle Khanna

Genre: Non-fiction, humour, celebrity writing, essays

I admit – I have never read any of Twinkle Khanna’s columns, neither have I really followed her growth as a person, in the media. When I read that she has released a book, though, I was intrigued by what she would have to say. The many good reviews I read about the book in blog-world cinched the deal for me, and I picked up a copy. How was my experience with it? I wouldn’t say I was thoroughly disappointed with the book, but I wasn’t floored by it either. It was a very average read for me.

Mrs. Funnybones is a collection of essays by Bollywood once-upon-a-time starlet Twinkle Khanna, snippets about her life and her thoughts about this and that. These essays are interspersed with witticisms by her. In my opinion, the snippets read like thoughts just off the top of the author’s head, without much thought going into them. They are something that any ordinary XYZ could type out on their keyboards, things that lack depth. Maybe that is because the book wanted to put across the feeling that the author is ‘just like you and me’, an ordinary person? Or is it because I expected more from the author, having been a Bollywood celebrity and the wife of one? I am not sure. Coming to the witticisms, some of them are funny, while the others are just PJs that we have heard a thousand times before.

Overall, I felt that this is a book best skipped, if you are looking for substance. If you are okay with a time-pass-type light read, this one does have its moments.

I have been having disappointment after disappointment, as far as books are concerned. God, are you listening? I need a brilliant read now, to make up for all these disappointments! :|

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts about them?

What are you reading at the moment?

Food Truck Experience: Le Casse Croute

Quite by chance, the OH and I had an opportunity to eat at one of the latest entries in the food truck market in Bangalore – Le Casse Croute. We saw this classy-looking blue-and-red Matador parked at HSR Layout the other day, with people gathering around it slowly. Curious, we decided to take a look, and saw two Frenchmen serving up some delicious-looking things to the crowd milling about. We couldn’t resist ordering a little something for ourselves, too, and weren’t disappointed at all!

The swanky Matador
The swanky Matador

As I said earlier, the Matador was the first thing that caught our eye. It looked beautiful and elegant, and something about it told us we would get good food if we decided to eat there. Check out this beauty of a vehicle for yourself.

Preparing and serving some delicious food
Preparing and serving some delicious food

Apparently, Le Casse Croute is the first French food truck in Bangalore, and started operations only this September. Run by three Frenchmen, it serves home-made French food. On offer are French croques with a variety of stuffings, frites or French fries, a cold Gaspacho soup, a watermelon-based cool drink, and a dessert of Creme de la Creme. What is worth noting here is that most of the stuff that goes into the making of these dishes – the bread, the pesto, the mayo, the tomato sauce, included – is home-made. Every ingredient is fresh and made with love, and it shows in the taste.

The croques come with stuffings like bacon, chicken and prawns, and the non-vegetarians seemed to be delighted with them. We ordered Madame Garcia, the only vegetarian option available in croques, which comes with a stuffing of green pesto, buffallo milk mozarella, and vegetable salad. The buffalo milk mozarella was quite the beauty, and created a furore when the Frenchmen took it out of its container to use in the croques. The pesto was gorgeous, with the herbs creating an explosion of taste in our mouths. The mozarella was unlike anything I have ever had before – super fresh and soft. The home-made tomato sauce that was served with the croque was beautifully tangy and went superbly well with the dish. The bread, too, was very, very fresh and tasted delightful.

Our Madame Garcia croque
Our Madame Garcia croque with home-made tomato sauce

The croques are priced in the Rs. 100-160 price range, which I think is great considering the quality of ingredients used.

My only grouse with Le Casse Croute is that they don’t have much on the menu for vegetarians to choose from.:(

The next time I come across them, I am not going to leave the soup, juice and frites untasted. :) If you find them somewhere, do yourself a favour and grab a bite – or two! – from them. You will not regret it, I am sure.

You can follow Le Casse Croute here.


Related reading: My first experience eating at a food truck

Tuver Lilva, Ringan, Valor Ane Bataka Nu Shaak| Pigeon Peas, Brinjal, Indian Flat Beans And Potato Curry, Gujarati-Style

You guys know about my love of seasonal produce, right? If a particular fruit or vegetable is in season, if the markets are flooded with it, then you can be sure I would not have been able to resist the temptation and would have bought some. I often read up on the Internet and learn how to make use of the seasonal produce I have bought. The raw mangoes that overflowed in the markets earlier this year found their way into a variety of dishes in my kitchen. I learnt how to make gobi manchurian so that I could put the white beauties I found at my usual sabzi-wallah‘s to good use. Recently, when juicy country tomatoes were in season, I used them to make thokku. This is the season for tuver lilva or pigeon peas, one of my favourites when it comes to vegetables. How could I resist grabbing some at my recent visit to our nearby vegetable seller?

A lot of Gujarati dishes make use of pigeon peas, including my favourite Undhiyu. This season, though, I have decided to go beyond the Undhiyu and learn different recipes that use these peas or use them to recreate some dishes from my past. What I did with the first lot of the peas was make Tuver Lilva, Ringan Ane Bataka Nu Shaak, a Gujarati curry that uses brinjals and potato, apart from pigeon peas.

Tuver Lilva, Ringan Ane Bataka Nu Shaak is something we used to make all the time when we were in Ahmedabad, especially in the winters. This curry can be made with a number of variations, but this style is what I like best. This is half-way Undhiyu, with the same spices, but with just four vegetables.

Here is how I made it..

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • About 200 grams of shelled fresh pigeon peas/ tuver lilva
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3-4 medium-sized brinjals, cubed
  • 12-15 valor/ Indian flat beans/ hyacinth beans, with the strings removed and cut into two pieces
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of grated fresh coconut
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Red chilli powder, to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ajwain
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 3 green chillies, chopped
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons til
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Asafoetida, a pinch
  • Powdered jaggery, to taste (If you are not a big fan of the sweet taste in your food, you could omit this)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (I used MDH brand. You could alternatively use dhania-jeera powder, ie the powder of coriander seeds and cumin, commonly used in Gujarati food)


  1. Grind the coriander leaves, green chillies, garlic and coconut in a mixer to a paste, using a little water. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker. Add the mustard, and allow to splutter.
  3. Now, add the ajwain, til and asafoetida.
  4. Before the ajwain and til burn, add the chopped valor, shelled tuver lilva, cubed potatoes and brinjals. Saute for a minute.
  5. Now, add the paste that you prepared earlier, along with salt and powdered jaggery (if using) to taste, red chilli powder (if using), garam masala or dhania-jeera powder. Mix well.
  6. Add about half cup of water. Mix well. Check for seasoning.
  7. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on.
  8. Let it cook for about 4 whistles on a high flame. When the steam has fully escaped, open the pressure cooker.
  9. Serve the curry with phulkas or chappatis. If you want to, you could garnish the curry with some finely chopped coriander leaves and fresh, grated coconut.

If you don’t want to make this curry in a pressure cooker, you could make it in a pan/kadhai too. I know of a lot of Gujaratis who make it that way. I go the pressure cooker-route as it uses less oil.

Do you like the sound of this dish? Have you tried this before? How did you like it?

I will be back soon with more tuver lilva recipes. Till then, stay tuned! :)

Just Read

Ragi – Ragini: Chronicles From Aji’s Kitchen – Anjali Purohit

Genre: Foodie fiction, Indian, recipes

This is the story of Ragini, born as a premature, extremely weak baby, who was struggling to survive without her mother, who passed away in childbirth. Her determined grandmother, Aji, and her feisty aunt, Masi, take Ragini under their wings. Ragini is brought up in a little Konkan village, and she not only survives but blossoms. Ragi – Ragini is the story of Ragini’s growing up to a strong woman, from the woeful little baby that she was. Ragini’s story is interspersed with various recipes made out of ragi aka nachani aka finger millet, which seem to occupy a special place in the author’s heart. Couplets by the famed Marathi poetess of yore, Bahinabai, also find a place in the book – both in Marathi and translated into English.

I picked up this book because the story sounded old-fashioned and charming, but I ended up disappointed. The book underwhelmed me. The storyline is simple, yes, but the narration did not do anything to enhance it. The ragi recipes fascinated me a whole lot, though – I didn’t know there is so much to do with the grain. I am now dying to try out at least a few of the recipes outlined in the book. Clearly, ragi – the grain – occupies a huge place in the author’s heart. She speaks about it with a lot of love, as a humble, forgiving grain that can be used in a lot of different ways. The couplets by Bahinabai are charming, too – simple, but with truckloads of meaning in them.

This is not a book I would recommend for the storyline, homely as it is. I would tell you to read this book if you want to fall in love with the highly nutritious and versatile ragi. That, and for the simple beauties that Bahinabai’s couplets are.

Too Many Cooks – Dana Bate

Genre: Foodie fiction, recipes, chick-lit

Kelly Madigan seems to have it all – a unique but satisfactory job as a cookbook ghostwriter and a handsome boyfriend, who is a doctor who earns handsomely, too. She is nonplussed when her mother leaves her a letter with a few death-bed wishes, one of them asking her to take chances, to get out of her comfort zone. So, when she gets a chance to work as cookbook ghostwriter for Natasha Spencer – THE movie star, wife of a dishy and promising English politician – she hesitatingly takes up the opportunity. The job requires her to leave USA, her current residence, and move to London, leaving her boyfriend behind too, but she still goes on and takes it up. Maybe this is what her mother meant by taking chances? Too Many Cooks is the story of Kelly Madigan, about what happens when she begins work with Natasha and meets the dishy politician.

Sadly, in spite of the interesting premise, the book disappointed. The book started out on a high note for me – I was just beginning to love Kelly in all her quirkiness when she met Natasha and Hugh, and the story started going downhill. Kelly started to seem dumber and dumber then, in spite of being the intelligent, talented and original person that she was initially. I kept reading on just because I wanted to find out how the story ended – and, actually, I liked the ending that the author has chosen to give the story. I wish the middle part of the story had been treated differently. There were a few loopholes in the plot, too, but I will refrain from talking about them here because that would mean giving the story away.

I liked the way the author has painted the characters of this book, anecdote after anecdote from their lives telling the reader all about who they really are. The story is somewhat similar to The Devil Wears Prada, but I still liked the way the author has handled it. I loved the descriptions of the food – they made me want to cook! I liked how the author gave me a peek into the life of a ghostwriter and that of a celebrity.

All in all, this is a pleasant read, one that you can reach for when you need chick-lit and don’t expect it to be different.

Dana Bates’ other books have interesting storylines too, and I would definitely like to give them a chance. The author sure has potential!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

Have you read either of these books or both? What are your thoughts about them?

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