Yesterday, a friend of mine who is in India, asked me whether I was happy here and do I see myself settling here. She is thinking of moving to the States, but loves India too much to ever think of settling anywhere else and wanted my take on the whole thing.
To be honest, if given a chance I would move to India in a heartbeat. Not to discard the lifestyle I have here, its great. I have great friends, without whom I don’t think I could have lasted as long as I did in this place and I would definitely miss the luxury of certain food items available here, especially when it comes to baking. I will aslo miss the TV shows that you get to see as soon as they premier instead of hoping and praying for the Indian channels to think that the show is worthy of broadcasting in India and then only getting to see it.
But that said, India has always suited me more. They say you always do better in your habitat and well, India is my habitat.
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Seriously this cake is jinxed.
This is the second time I am trying it and the second time I am getting it wrong.
Last time I dropped the whole cake halfway through the baking process, while I was trying to check on doneness. You can refresh your memory here. This time even before starting, I managed to drop the box of cornmeal on the floor. On the plus side, the box did not empty completely and some of the cornmeal did not spill onto the floor, leaving me with sufficient cornmeal to use in the cake. On the negative side, the cornmeal did make quite a mess on the floor.
If that was not enough, like last time I forgot that I was supposed to put the espresso water and cocoa after I divided the batter. I would like to blame the whole cleaning up of the corn meal from the floor process for my temporary absent mindedness, but I dont think it was just that. The cake is just jinxed.
Since it was too late to do anything I thought I will make a mocha chocolate swirl bread. So I added 4tsp of cocoa, 3 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of yogurt to one of the parts and baked it. It might not be like the original, but it did not turn that bad either. Anyway I will try again. Maybe third time’s the charm?
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Today is Tuesday. But today, I am not posting on GMT.
Instead I am posting this.
A vanilla and chocolate layer cake with chocolate malt buttercream filling and an amazing vanilla frosting on top.
And oh my gawd, it was so so so good. So good that I had no cake left to take pictures of how the inside of the cake looked.
Its sad because the layers did cut up real well.
It’s a shame I can’t show it though. Can you just take my word for it?
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It’s the festival of Holi, the festival of colors, in India today and I wish everyone a very happy and colorful holi!
Even though Holi is a pretty messy festival, and each year I swear I won’t play it, I end up playing and I end up having the time of my life.
When we were young, a day before Holi my mom would rummage through our old clothes, since the clothes we wore on Holi would end up in no condition to be worn again.
Growing up, Holi in the Air Force stations used to be really dirty. As kids we were saved from being thrown in the mud pit, but I remember seeing my parents being picked up and thrown in. It was absolutely brutal. I also remember grown ups pouring entire beer bottles on each other.
We children though saved from all the above still would be covered in colour from head to toe, dripping paint all over the place. I really don’t know how my mom cleaned the house after Holi party, because I remember the house and the bathrooms would get so dirty. My mom would give us a wash with the hose outside but still the bathroom would get dirty, with colored finger prints on the sink, the toilet seat, the faucets, the tiles, etc. It was never a pretty sight.
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So my schedule is going to be crazy busy the next 30 days. I will not have any access to the net on most days, and I will be hopping from one city to the other in the coming days, covering a total of 8 cities in 30 days.
While writing this post I am in Allahabad, the land of the famous Kumbh mela. Kumbh started on 14th Jan and will continue for the next 56 days. The festival got its name from the mythological “kumbh” or pitcher of nectar, over which gods and demons fought and which would give them immortality. Devotees smear ash on their body before taking a holy dip (shahi snan) in Sangam or the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati during the Kumbh Mela. Hindus believe that by doing so, one is freed from the sins committed in this lifetime and also attains freedom from the cycle of birth and death and rebirth.The first day shahi snan saw 82 lakh people taking a dip. The crowd on the main days is large enough to be visible from space satellites and if that still doesnt grab your attention then this would. The estimated number for the next shahi snan on 10th Feb is close to 3 crores! In fact certain Hollywood personalities are also expected to attend the Kumbh (the rumors include names of Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta Jones).
I then leave for Kolkata, the city of Joy and the once capital of India during the British rule, on 17th night, where two of my grad school friends are tying the knot with each other. After a brief 2 day stay at kolkata and hopefully a quick trip at Kookie Jar and Flurry’s, I fly to Lucknow, where my undergrad college friend is getting married. I swear I did not threaten everyone to get married while I am here in India. This is just by pure coincidence. From there I head to Agra, only as a transit visit while on my way to Jaipur.
After the fun filled days of wedding food, dressing up and quality time with friends, I will be observing Noble silence for ten days at the Vipassana Meditation Centre in Jaipur. Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. It is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living. The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results. There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit. I have wanted to do this for a long time now, ever since my B-school days where a friend told me about it. Since this time I am here for a substantial time in India, I decided to register for it and go ahead with it. The schedule is rigorous where one has to observe Noble silence- no talking at all, even through gestures for ten days! Will fill you in with my experience once I get back and have access to the internet.
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Ugh. I was so pissed off with myself yesterday. I was all set on making this loaf, and had all the necessary ingredients for it. I made the batter, and that’s where the first slip up happened. Instead of keeping the batter plain vanilla and then adding espresso and cocoa to the other half of the batter to get the marbled look, I added cocoa to the plain vanilla batter, and as a result spoiling the marble effect that the end loaf would have. Realizing my mistake, I let the batter be a little cocoa-ish and still divided the batter and added the espresso water to the other half. I managed to get a slight marble effect even if it wasn’t as distinct. The second slip up happened when, while baking I decided to check on the loaf. Since I was working with a new oven and my mom thought that the cake looked done, I took it out much before its baking time, and somehow managed to let the pan slip and fall on the ground batter side down (Murphy’s law at its best). I did scoop up the batter that was not touching the ground and baked it again. Of course the results are not spectacular. Or even close. I did add the glaze and somehow it is still edible. But the disaster has left me extremely irritated with my clumsy self.
Anyway. Coming to the recipe I am sharing today.
January 12th was my mom’s birthday. A woman who without a doubt is one of the nicest persons I know. And I do not say that because she is my mom. I know a lot of people who can vouch for her goodness. Committed to a fault to her work, even though she doesn’t get paid for it- it’s all volunteer work. Always there with a smile on her face. Amazing cook. Impeccable taste in interior decorating. Extremely creative and hard working. She is definitely the best in all that she does. And I love her a lot.
So of course for this special lady I had to make a cake on her birthday. On being asked, my mom requested for a fruit based cake and I decided that is what she will get.
I narrowed on a sponge layered cake with a strawberry filling. For the sponge cake I used a recipe from allrecipes.com, which had a high rating. Taking the advice of reviewers, I used almond extract and lemon juice in the recipe.
For the filling, I made homemade mascarpone cheese (since you don’t get commercially made here in Allahabad) and used it to make a cream filling based on the recipe here. In it I mixed some roasted strawberries, the recipe for which I adapted from here. Instead of using balsamic vinegar, I used wine and champagne oil that I had got from $250 chocoley Daring Bakers’ win.
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If you have been following me on Facebook, you know today is Day of my gluten free and sugar free diet. If you “like” me on Facebook, I am sorry for the frequent updates (unless, you like these updates then I take back my apology). The reason why I have suddenly become so active on the Novice Housewife’s Facebook page is that if I let everyone know what I am eating, I become accountable and if I am accountable, I am more responsible in the choices I make for my diet and more likely to stick to it. So please bear with me this month with my constant updates. Because I really need to see myself through this diet. It’s not been so difficult so far. Thank god for the internet, google search, pinterest and Foodgawker. Finding gluten free sugar free recipes and making a diet plan has been so much easy because of these.
And thanks to Pinterest I am able to share the recipe I have for you today. I pinned these from “In Sock Monkey Slippers” blog. These beauties have been sitting in my files for a very long time, waiting to be shared with you all. And I am sorry it has taken so long to get to you.
Thinly sliced potatoes cooked with a creamy garlic and thyme cheese and served as individual sized portions. Sign me up for these anytime. They are a little messy to make (the muffin pan requires some clean up but nothing a good soak in hot water and a little muscle power can’t take care of), but the effort is oh so worth it.
Without much further ado, here is the recipe.
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If you love chicken tikka, and you love pizza- this is totally your kind of Pizza.
I made it last week for V and me, using some leftover pizza dough I had and both of us really devoured it!
Now, V is not a pizza person. He is mostly a dal roti person, but for this pizza he changed his mind. He actually was sad when it got over and even though he knew there was no more pizza left he was talking about how he felt like having this pizza the next day. He still talks about it. And while writing this post, I wish I had some pizza dough so that I could make this again now.
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