Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Easy Mango Cake

Is there such a thing as 'too easy'?

One of my grandfather's friends has a small mango canning and preservation enterprise. They live in the middle of the best mango producing regions in India, and use some of the finest local mangoes in their products. They sell a lot of their products in their store locally, but also send it out to several cities in India, and perhaps abroad too.

If I or some of my relatives ever get a chance to get there, we stop by their house, which is right next to the store (or is it the other way around?) and usually buy a few things from them, especially their jars of mango pulp. These are glass jars, unlike the tin cans one sees commonly, and I prefer those for two reasons. One is that one can see what is inside, and secondly, I think there is a much lesser chance of any kind of strange stuff happening, such as something that could happen if the acid in the mango reacts with metal.

Other than those few jars, I rarely buy canned mango pulp. The jars are by and large savored by themselves as Aamras, particularly when pooris are on the menu. Hence I went back and forth over whether I should use up almost half of a precious jar just to try out something new. I can say now for sure that it was worth it. This cake is superb, in taste as well as texture. I have also yet to meet a cake recipe that was easier to whip up; it is literally "dump and stir". It is a complete keeper that I would definitely try again, and perhaps even buy some cans of mango pulp if needed!

Adapted from here.

Mango Cake

Rava Mango Cake


1 cup fine rava (or semolina flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 pods of green cardamom
1 cup canned mango pulp
1/4 cup oil
1 Tablespoon golden raisins (optional)
1 Tablespoon chopped almonds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix the rava, baking powder, and sugar. Using a flexible spatula, stir in the mango pulp, and the oil, until the rava absorbs the liquids completely to form a batter.

Powder the seeds of the cardamom in a mortar and pestle and add it to the batter.

Lightly grease a small loaf pan (8 X 4 inches would be fine, mine is 9 X 5).

Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the raisins and almonds on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Insert a toothpick to check if done.


1. I actually forgot to add the cardamom powder, but it was not missed. I am eager to try it with it next time.

2. Most likely, the quantities can be increased by 1.5 times to fit a loaf pan better.

3. It can be made just as well with melted butter in place of oil, I think.

4. The dried fruit and nuts are optional, and can be played around with. Mix into the batter, or add on top like I did.

Entry Update

I recently made this cake again, with increased quantities, and baked it in a bundt pan. It took me 35 minutes to bake it. Since the mango pulp was quite sweet, I decreased the overall sugar quantity as well, and did not use any dried fruit or nuts. It was enough for 12-16 people. The process remains the same as above, but here is an update on the quantities.

2.5 cups fine rava (or semolina flour)
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
4-5 pods of green cardamom
2.5 cups canned mango pulp
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
a few drops of oil for greasing pan

Mango Cake again

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Khatte Meethe Baghari Baingain

Sweet and sour eggplants in creamy nut sauce

I said a big hurrah recently because it seems like 'baby eggplants' season has started now. Well, eggplant season in general, for which I have been waiting for several months. It has been a while since I bought much produce from a grocery store, so there are certain things that are just not in my purview if the farmers don't bring them in. Among the few things I miss are the eggplants. Fret no more, because hopefully they will go strong well into fall now. Which means there will be eggplants in the basket during each trip to the Farmers market, and it means that khatte meethe baingain will be devoured many times as well.

Khatte Meethe Baingain: Baby eggplant

Ever since I found this recipe, via Culinary Annotations, it has been a complete keeper and has turned into one of the many recipes that I barely have to look up because I have made it so many times. Like several others in my rep, it never made it to the blog because I never had a good photo to accompany it. The reason for that should be obvious too - could never wait long enough to take a photo after it was cooked, and there were never any leftovers to photograph!

One of the interesting bits in the recipe is cooking the eggplant partially in a microwave. While I do not use the microwave for any real cooking, I thought I could give this a try, and I have to say that it was a good thing to listen to the chef! The eggplants get just a little tender in the microwave first, and then get charred and crisp just right on the stovetop.

The other thing I like about this recipe is that it is a lot less complicated than the traditional Maharashtrian stuffed eggplant (bharli vangi), so it can be made even on a busy weeknight.

Khatte Meethe Baingain: Baby eggplant

Here is the paraphrased recipe with some tips, minor changes, and translations of ingredients to English.

Khatmitthe Baghari Baingan


Little baby eggplants 1/2 kg (about 12-15)
1-2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 cup peanuts
1 Tablespoon white poppy seeds (khus khus)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (beige)
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sambhar powder
2 teaspoons tamarind (not concentrate)
1 Tablespoon jaggery
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoons fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
a few curry leaves
pinch of asafoetida
1-2 green chilies, slit lengthwise (optional)


Dissolve the tamarind in 1/2 cup of hot water, and let is sit for 30 minutes or longer. Using a fork or your fingers, extract the pulp completely and strain it to get tamarind juice.

Wash the eggplants and pat them dry. Make two cross slits on them without separating the slices. I remove the tops, and make the slits from there, but you can keep the top and make the slits from the opposite end. Rub them with a few drops of oil, and place on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for four to five minutes.

Grind the poppy seeds and sesame seeds to a fine powder. Add the peanuts towards the end and grind them as well.

Heat about 1 Tablespoon oil in a large wide pan, and add in the eggplants with a pinch of salt. Cook the eggplants for a few minutes, turning them a few times until they are golden brown on all sides.

Add the spices, and the nut and seed powder, and saute everything together for a minute. Add the tamarind juice, jaggery, salt to taste, and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes, making sure the sauce starts to seep into the eggplants. Add a little water if needed, by the tablespoon, if the sauce starts to thicken up.

In a separate tadka pan (or butter warmer, or small saucepan), heat about a teaspoon of oil, and add the asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, and green chilies. When they start to crackle, pour everything over the eggplants.
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