Jun 30, 2010

Chocolate Upside Down Pudding



Here's an experiment that went wrong somewhere mid-way but turned out fine in the end after all.

This recipe has been adapted and modified from the book 'How It All Vegan' and The 'Compassionate Cook Cookbook'. The cake is a bit on the sweeter side but it's nice once in a while.

You need:
For the Cake
1 cup flour (Use whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup soy milk or water
some walnuts or almonds if you like

For the fudge
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 and 1/4 cups boiling water


Preheat the oven to 270 degrees C. Oil a big baking pan say about 9 inches, bigger than what you would normally use for a cake. I will elaborate why.

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, soda and salt. Make a well in the center of this mix and add the soy milk, sugar and oil. Mix everything well. The batter will be thicker than a cake batter (almost like what a brownie batter texture) like on the right.

Spread this in a big baking dish. Mix the remaining cocoa powder and sugar and sprinkle it on top of this batter. Pour hot water over it and bake it.

I goofed on the size of the baking tin. I used a small baking tin. When I poured the water on the batter, the water level was just under the edge. I didn't realise that the batter will rise pushing the water out of the tin and into my oven! (Ya I know it's a dumb mistake).

So when I started out,everything was in a 9 inch round tin, mid-
way I heard steam and opened the oven to find a mess. Then moved the half-risen batter to a bigger rectangular tin and poured the same water on top. In the end, it was all good! The cake was moist and there was a layer of fudge at the bottom. To serve I cut out portions and turned them over so the fudge layer was on the top.











Jun 17, 2010

Desserts: Roasted Bananas With Peanut Butter


This one's inspired from what Dr Nandita Shah serves at her workshops. It's really easy and it's addictive.

You need:

Bananas, cut in half and then split lengthwise
Roasted Peanuts, unsalted ones
Jaggery Syrup/ Dates Syrup or Maple Syrup

I'll start backwards. If you don't have maple syrup, make some jaggery syrup with jaggery and a teaspoon of water on a low flame. The jaggery will melt in to a lovely dark brown syrup. If you're too lazy for that, just buy some Lion Dates Syrup.

To make the Peanut butter
Put the roasted peanuts in a blender and let it go on for a while till you hear the sound changing. Stop to scrape the sides occasionally. The peanuts will go from powder to butter consistency in about a minute or two. Thats it!

Heat a flat pan / tawa and put the cut bananas on top. They will start to sizzle and turn brown and soft. Turn it over till both sides are nice and brown.

Put the bananas on a plate, top it with the peanut butter and drizzle some syrup on top!

You can even use Tahini instead of peanut butter. Tahini is a paste made with sesame seeds. It's available in bottles or you can make it by toasting the sesame seeds and putting it in a blender. The natural oils from the sesame will be enough to make the consistency just right.

Jun 5, 2010

Travelling Vegan- Malaysia



I spent this last week in Malaysia on vacation and thought to dedicate a note about food in Malaysia. The Malays love their sea food and it's a bit disturbing (and smelly) for a family for four vegetarians and one vegan.

En route it's almost impossible to get any vegan food. Most international airlines offer vegan food as an option while booking tickets. I was so excited last year when I got to tick that 'vegan' option. It only resulted in me staying practically hungry on a 16 hour flight with the air hostess telling me "...get your own food next time". They didn't even know what 'vegan' meant, confusing it with Jain food. The low cost airlines don't allow you to eat any other food except the ones they sell you on their flights. But who's going to stop you from eating on a flight if they don't have anything to offer you.

In Malaysia the vegetarian movement is alive and kicking thanks to the Indians and the Chinese Buddhists. If you're Indian and don't really want to go to another country and eat Indian food all over again, then the Chinese vegetarian restaurants can be a breather. They serve u some nice soups, salads, noodles, rice varieties and also lots of mock meat. But if you've been vegetarian and do not fancy the idea of eating even a 'fake chicken' then they are almost always happy to omit what you do not want. One good decision was that we took along some theplas. There are a whole lot of places to get good south Indian food with the huge south indian population there. We tried Annalakshmi which is run by the Temple of Fine Arts and they offer a vegetarian buffet. All the proceeds of this restaurant help them in running their organisation, you eat and pay as you wish and all the food is prepared and served by volunteers. We also sampled some Malay/ Chinese street food and they were nice enough to avoid the MSG, meat and eggs. There are many north Indian restaurants also one of which we tried along the Cenang Beach route. We ended up eating only oil i think at that meal.

It was easier to find food in supermarkets and alter menus in Kuala Lumpur. All the food in the super markets contain MSG (a.k.a Ajinomoto) and Aspartame. You really have to look at the

ingredients and buy. Thankfully in Malaysia I found the food labeling laws have forced the companies to list everything in their products, unlike in India where Lays gets away with 'No added MSG'. It helps that the people are friendly and accommodative to your needs. In Langkawi things got a little more difficult. It's difficult to find food to snack on specially for a vegan. It's best to snack on the awesome range of tropical fruit they offer like the Dragon Fruit (pictured on the right), Durians, Mangosteens, Rambutans (on the left), Papayas, Pineapples, Mangoes. I even found Jicama, a crispy sweet
root that is widely used in the South Americas. They also have lots of dried and preserved fruits and vegetables and also potato and yam chips. Malaysians also use many types of mushrooms, celery, broccolli, corn and many vegetables common to Indian cuisine.

It also helps to do a little bit of research and learn a few key words if you're going to a country that speaks another language and also many foods list their ingredients in Malay in English script. So you can read it but you need to know what it means. For instance Milk is Susu (Really! It was amusing at first to see the different flavours of susu available at the supermarkets) and Egg is Telur. Soy milk is easily available for those who need it, though not in as many flavours. Tofu, also called bean curd is also available though some varieties are called 'egg tofu' and contain eggs.

It's not hard to travel with diet restrictions and it's always nice to try new foods. Most people are rigid and only stick to eating what they know and recognize. I think it's time to change, in so many ways!









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