Tag Archives: nytimes

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!

Three Travel Websites – A Boon for the Independent Traveler

By Lakshmi:

We were sitting around after dinner last night and the conversation veered to what our passions were outside our day jobs.  And everyone unanimously agreed that mine was travel.  I love to read travel magazines, newspapers, websites, tweets and track deals.  And when an article appears that caters to my sweet spot of technology meeting a much desired need or solving a travel problem, I am fixated.  And today’s NY Times article on three companies that offer offbeat tours was just a treasure trove of what the independent traveler yearns for.

The breed that we identify as independent travelers typically doesn’t like package tours.  We want to explore.  We don’t want to be just tourists, we want to dive into new experiences.  We don’t want to just take pictures around historic landmarks, we want to know interesting nuances from history that shaped a place or culture.

And these companies seem to be the perfect answer to the independent traveler’s needs.  I will disclose right away that before today I knew nothing about these companies, but I am positive that going forward I will experience each of these companies’ offerings.

In a nutshell, what each of these companies has set up is a network of locals who live and breathe a place, who know about its nuances, have years of experience in the history, can show you how to cook local specialties, etc who have signed up for a fee to be your private tour guide in their city for a specific activity.  Here’s a list of things that completely got me hooked and dreaming.

– Tour the red light district in Amsterdam with a former police officer

– Spend a day with a local in Istanbul, eating your way through town

– Spend two hours in London taking watercolor lessons

– Go on a running tour of Rome

And the list goes on…….and it is not expensive!

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been in a place and said, “Wouldn’t it be perfect if I could have a local help ………….”  While I did see a number of high-end tours do precisely that, I did not see this need being met for the regular traveler who wants more.  And now we have not one, but four companies, some funded by some pretty heavy weight celebrities on this bandwagon.

So, without more verbiage from me, here are the sites to check out:




To read the NY Times article that brought these sites to my attention, click here:


And since we have not experienced any of them yet, if you have, we would love to hear about your experiences.

Here’s to happy local exploring!