Tag Archives: Celebration

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!

Eating our way through London for 192 hours!

By Lakshmi:

Can I make a confession? I’m a baby about my birthdays!  For many years now, I’ve made a resolution to not work on my birthday and fill the day surrounded by the people,  activities and food I love.  And every year I look forward to the 24 hours dedicated to me.  But this time around, I decided to extend the celebration to 192 hours. That’s right, eight days of eating my way through London with my teenaged daughter and her dear friend for company.

Now, this was going to be no random Eatathon.  I had a wish list of five places I definitely wanted to hit up on my trip.  Places where tables tend to get booked up months ahead of time. And here I was with my air tickets to London purchased barely two weeks away from D-day! OpenTable and the phone became my best friends as I wrangled my way to reservations at all five.  With those anchors set, I scoured my way through bookmarked clippings from food and travel magazines, Time Out London, and other sources to create a list of restaurants by neighborhood that served amazing meals at not too exorbitant prices.  This list was vetted by my travel companions, and the end product was a list accented with highlights and bold colors.  We were ready to forage our way through London!

The first stop on this journey was a dream come true.  NOPI, a restaurant by one of my favorite chefs, Yottam Ottolenghi.  He is the MAN who does vegetables like no other.  The flavors, the seasoning, the fresh taste, the creativity…I could just go on and on.

My excitement entering in was like a kid who had been promised a trip to a candy store for a long time and now had permission to pick out anything she wanted.  Let me walk you through a visual journey of what we ate!  If I had to pick one word to describe the meal? Divine.  Add another word? Magic!  Tell you how I felt? Like Royalty. How was the taste? It was a like a perfectly orchestrated taste festival on my tongue.  And my admiration for the creator of this culinary nirvana? Undying!

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The menu – presenting us with the agonizing tradeoffs we would be subject to!!
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Bread with the richest olive oil you could dream of
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AAhhhhh! Nothing like marinated olives with a glass of wine
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Jicama, smokey jalapeno and tomato salsa – I’m crying with happiness
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Mixed seed lavash with burnt spring onion dip – too bad we were in a place where it would be inappropriate to lick our bowl clean
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Roasted butternet squash, red onion, tahini, zatar – nowhere have I tasted squash this good
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Spiced potato cakes with a topping of parsnip chips
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Peanut and caramel icecream with chocolate sauce and peanut brittle – should I eat them separately or mix them?
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Baked chocolate ganache, plum soil, creme fraiche, the perfect backdrop for a candle

Stay tuned for our next post on this 192 hour food fueled journey through London!