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!
Recently, I spotted fingerling potatoes at Trader Joe’s and was inspired to take these to a different level. Inspired by the Indian dish of “til ke aloo” or potatoes with sesame seeds, I decided to dress the potatoes with spices and as an afterthought serve them with a nice sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. The result was a beautiful play of spice, tart and sweetness on the taste buds. Here’s how I created this dish that can be served as a starter or a side dish.
Two tbsps vegetable oil
Two dried red chilies
One lb bag of fingerling potatoes washed
One tsp salt
One tsp cumin powder
One tsp coriander powder
Half tsp turmeric
Half tsp chili powder
One cup water
One tbsp Tahini
One tbsp sesame seeds
One heaped tbsp of pomegranate seeds for garnishing (optional)
Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is heated, add the red chilies and swirl till they get dark. Add the potatoes, salt, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and chili powder and mix well.
Add a cup of water and cook the potatoes till they are firm but dry and done. If necessary, add a bit more water to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan. Add the tahini and sesame seeds and toss well. Take off flame and serve garnished with pomegranate seeds.
It’s October; that means if we are lucky, we have several more weeks of the best veggies that we can pick up at our local farm. Yesterday, I picked up the juiciest cherry tomatoes and zucchinis that looked absolutely beautiful in the most exuberant shade of green. So for lunch today, I created a salad for one with these two ingredients being the mainstay. Not only was it delish, you’ve got to agree that it is just a beautiful sight to behold as well!
One small zucchini converted into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
8-10 cherry tomatoes halved
8-10 pistachios (or any nut for crunch)
One tsp extra virgin olive oil
One tsp lemon juice
Half a tsp of berbere, paprika or chili powder
Salt to taste
Put the zucchini ribbons at the center of a plate.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes, cut side up, in a circle around the zucchini.
Sprinkle salt to taste and berbere (or paprika or chili powder) on the zucchini ribbons and tomatoes.
Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad.
Garnish with pistachios (or other nuts) and dig in!