Tag Archives: Baking

When a favorite Indian dessert gets converted into an exotic cake

We all have rituals that make us smile.  For my husband, it is the act of eating a single piece of the Indian sweet Rasmalai which never fails to put a smile on his face.  So when Melissa Clark from the New York Times converted this sweet into a cake for a good friend, I absolutely had to recreate it in my kitchen.

Just a quick primer on Rasmalai.  It literally translates into “Ras” meaning juice and “malai” meaning cream.  It’s a dessert made with homemade cheese and served in a milk-based syrup flavored with rosewater, cardamom and sometimes saffron.

What Melissa did is absolutely brilliant and I continue to learn and be inspired by the art and science of this creation.  Mirroring the inspiration is accomplished through the beautiful art of layering flavors.  The cakes are subtly flavored with cardamom and rose water, then get a soak of milk that is infused with cardamom, followed by a sandwiching process with rose water flavored ricotta filling and a final, stylish flourish of creamy, mascarpone frosting that has a subtle flavor of rose water.

And here’s the final end product staged with a topping of dried rose petals and pistachios.  A sight to behold and a beautiful treat to devour.

As you might have guessed by now, you’ve got to tell yourself the calories are not real and simply a figment of your imagination:)

If you’d like to recreate this, here’s the link to the recipe I followed.

PS.  I do want to thank all the readers/experimenters of the original recipe who generously shared their learnings.  This was instrumental in turning my creation out beautifully!

Simply put, this cake is magical!

I’ve expressed this form of love before and here I go at it again.  Yes, it is Yotam Ottolenghi yet again along with his baking partner Helen Goh who have me in raptures. Well, it is not really them, but their “Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake” that was just featured in the New York Times that has me all excited.

Just reading the list of ingredients (pistachio, rose-water, lemon juice, almond meal and more) had me in the car on an assembly spree.

And this afternoon, as the pistachios whirred in the food processor and the smell of rose-water wafted in my kitchen, I almost felt like I had been blessed with a virtual visit from the talented powerhouse of Goh and Ottolenghi.

If one could describe the ideal dessert as one where beauty makes a connection with the soul, this has got to be it.

Just a few words of warning!

This does not follow my penchant for light dishes.

True to its middle eastern origin, the cake is sweet and blends in many an exotic flavor. So if you want to get on a magic carpet and take a ride with a subliminal blend of tastes, here’s the way to get on this trip.

Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake

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An abundance of figs = figutopia!

The season between summer and fall appears to be the time when fresh figs make their appearance in abundance in markets and stores.  Growing up in India, the only figs we had ever tasted were the dried kind and since these were much too expensive for our humble, middle class budget, we eagerly looked forward to receiving them in gift boxes around the Diwali holiday season.

To be completely honest, I only discovered fresh figs a few years ago and my adventures in the kitchen with these delectable powerhouses of fiber, vitamins and minerals is even more recent.

Since imitation is the best form of flattery, I am not ashamed to admit that I recently followed a few published recipes to attain a state that I am going to call as “figutopia” also known as “fignirvana”.

The first dish was an incredibly easy but amazing to look at fig galette that I have served and eaten plain or with ice cream and/or whipped cream.  Even in its simplest state, the crumbly, shortbread crust barely hugging an abundance of glorious fresh figs is a match made in heaven between nature and manmade.  As we bit into morsels of the crust which melted in our mouths, we would be surprised with the figs that had turned slightly jammy under the heat and warmed their way through our taste buds.

This is what the galette looked like pre and post baking.  You can find the recipe from the team @cookinglight here.

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The second baking expedition involved a fig and almond cake from the super inspiring team @nytfood.  This one intrigued me because of the low levels of flour in the recipe and the addition of freshly ground almonds to make the batter.  Again, while this was easy to make, it looked stunning, giving the illusion of tons of hard work in the kitchen!

Take a look at the cake below pre and post baking.  Do you agree that it looks absolutely beautiful?  You can find the recipe here! Our thumbs up came from the man of the house who finished every last morsel on his plate 🙂

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I plan to try a few more dishes before these fresh figs disappear for the season.  This thought makes me sad and long for living in a place like California where these fruits are abundant.  I’d love to hear more about your favorite ways to eat and prepare figs.  Please share.