A Plum Flaugnarde to Share and Plums on Toast for One

IMG_5313   For the past few weeks, it has been blistering hot here in New Delhi. Step outside and you feel as if your eyeballs are melting, retreat inside and the air conditioning is wilting and the water from the cold tap is hot enough to scald you. To make matters worse, someone has devised a smartphone app which tells you not just that you are suffering in 43-degree heat, but that it actually feels like 50 degrees. Although, on the plus side, there is lots of fun to be had frying eggs on the bonnet of your car. Anyone who can has bolted to the hills or Europe to cool down. We had a big birthday to celebrate in our family last week—one with “0” in it—so we decided to scoop up our nearest and dearest and spend a long weekend at the wonderful Sitla Estate in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand. We sat under the apricot trees and watched the sun go down over the slopes. We drank to longevity, devoured mulberry crumble and slept like babies in the cool mountain air. Too soon, though, we were on our way home—and there’s nothing more dispiriting than a 10-hour, bum-numbing drive with the prospect of only searing heat and dodgy air conditioners at the end of it. But for me the journey home was made bearable by the hundreds of roadside stalls selling freshly picked soft fruit, and I drifted off into a reverie of recipes involving peaches, plums and apricots. We stopped at a long row of stalls to try the fruit, first choosing a particularly voluptuous display of peaches. The vendor cut off a slice and handed it over. I put it in my mouth, expecting an explosion of soft, sweet flesh, but the vendor had sprinkled the perfectly ripe fruit with a liberal amount of salt and with a single bite my reverie was over. I’ve often said that a certain amount of sharpness in fruit is best for baking but salty fruit? I don’t think it will catch on. Once I had recovered from the salt attack, I bought vast amounts of peaches, apricots and plums, and their beautiful aroma sustained me for most of the journey home. The peaches were the most ripe and delicate so they were eaten quickly raw and in a cobbler, but the apricots and plums have kept very well in the fridge so I have been able to savour them in a variety of dishes. I made compotes and fools with the apricots and the plums have nearly disappeared in various attempts to make a good dessert with them. I wanted to turn them into a dessert similar to clafoutis called flaugnarde from the Auvergne, Limousin and Périgord regions of France (strictly speaking, and the French are always quite strict about these things, this dessert can only be called a clafoutis if it is made with cherries, with all other fruits it’s called a flaugnarde). But the first couple of attempts weren’t sweet enough—baking the plums seemed to enhance their sharpness. So I have upped the sugar quantities and rounded out the sharpness with some ground almonds and orange flower water, just enough to showcase the beautiful plums. The result is a perfect, quick, summer dessert. Plums on toast, the recipe for which comes from a 1950s Elizabeth David book, French Country Cooking, is more of a snack than a dessert. But what a snack—simple and quick, and so much more than the sum of its parts. It makes the perfect solitary elevenses, I discovered, along with some beautiful mint tea made from hand-stitched tea bags I had also brought back from Sitla. For a moment, the roar of the ACs subsided and I was almost back in the hills.

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Plum, Almond and Orange Flower Flaugnarde

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

400g plums, halved, stones removed and each half cut into three 4 eggs 125g sugar 450ml milk 50g flour 25g ground almonds 2 tsp orange flower water A handful of flaked almonds Method Butter a 10-inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Put the eggs, sugar, milk, flour, ground almonds and orange flower water in a bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Put half of the plum slices at the bottom of the baking dish and pour over the batter. Bake for 20 minutes until the flaugnarde is puffed up and golden. Take the flaugnarde out of the oven and arrange the remaining plum slices over the top, sprinkle on the flaked almonds. Bake for 5-10 minutes—the plums on top should be soft and the flaked almonds lightly toasted. I prefer this warm or at room temperature but it’s also good cold from the fridge.

Plums on Toast

Serves 1 (I can’t urge you strongly enough to try this. You could serve it as a rustic dessert but I prefer it as a solitary treat.)

Ingredients

2 slices of good-quality fresh white bread, crusts on—for a more indulgent version, use fresh brioche Soft butter (unsalted tastes best here),50-75g 4 plums, halved and stones removed Brown sugar, 50-75g Method Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Butter an ovenproof baking dish large enough to hold the slices of bread. Butter the slices of bread thickly on one side. Arrange four halves of plum on each slice, cut side up. Put a little butter and sugar into each half plum and put the slices into the baking dish. Cover the slices with butter paper and put the dish into the oven near the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, by which time the bread will be golden and crisp and flavoured with delicious buttery, sugary, plummy juices.

Chikki Market and Gupta Chaat Wallah, Old Delhi

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As we cling onto the last few cool days here, it’s a perfect time to take a leisurely wander around Old Delhi and enjoy some some of the winter specialities that are still available.

One of the never-ending delights of walking in Old Delhi is coming across the tiny markets within markets, the little lanes devoted to one commodity. This winter I discovered a market tucked away in Kothi Shri Mandir near the Khari Baoli spice market and devoted almost entirely to Chikki – a type of nut brittle made from jaggery in the winter months.

Kothi Shri Mandir is so narrow there is hardly any daylight and it almost feels like walking through a secret underground passageway where your path is lit on either side by piles of magical sugar.

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There’s chikki everywhere you look made from sesame (also called gajak), peanuts, cashews even dried rose petals which come in all shapes and sizes – bars, rolls, discs, slabs, golf balls, tiny coin-sized pieces and hearts.

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This is my favourite shop, Lal Chand Rewri Wale – beautiful fresh chikki and I love the way the owner is practically wearing his merchandise.

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There are also some namkeen shops in the street like Pappu Caterers who sell everything you could possibly wish for to put a bit of crunch into your chaat – the spinach matri was particularly good.

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You can  see the chikki being made in some of the shops – these guys are pounding slabs of sesame and jaggery

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And this is the peanut brittle being shapedIMG_4570
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As you come back out of Kothi Shri Mandir, take a minute to appreciate Gali Batashan itself – a whole street devoted to all things sugary, pickled and candied – like these carrots, ginger and amla.
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The gali is also home to some excellent snacks. The Bombay Sandwich wallah often makes a stop here and there is a chana puri stall doing a roaring trade on the corner of Kothi Shri Mandir.  But my new favourite chaat is made by the Guptas who told me they had been in the gali for 45 years – verified by a happy customer who said he’d been visiting their stall for over 40. They run a hugely popular, very spic and span cart from which father and son dish up all kinds of fresh and flavoursome chaat.

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Finally, on the corner of Gali Batashan and Khari Baoli there is a  seasonal vegetable stall – look at all these gorgeous black carrots, fresh green chick peas, star fruit, sweetcorn, lotus roots and fresh turmeric…

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Gali Batashan runs between Khari Baoli and Naya Bans.  If you’re coming from Khari Baoli, Kothi Shri Mandir, where you’ll find all the chikki wallahs, is the last turning on the left before reaching Naya Bans. Gupta Chaat wallah is on the left of Gali Batashan before you turn into Kothi Shri Mandir.  Here’s a map of the exact locations.  Go soon, though, the hot weather is on its way!

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z5yQqd-1sTFU.kwW3uh74zD_M

A Western Disturbance and a Winter Lunch at Khan Hotel, Old Delhi

As the temperatures rise and Delhi-ites rush to get their ACs serviced and start to dread the long, sweaty slog ahead, we have been granted a few days’ reprieve in the shape of unseasonal chilly squalls.  This, we are informed by every daily newspaper,  is thanks to the ‘Western Disturbance’,  a term used in this part of the world to describe a sudden cold snap caused by extratropical storms in the Mediterranean.

The cold winds and swirling leaves are making  me think back to some of the lovely book-related  Old Delhi outings  of the past few months that I never got round to blogging about.  Winter is such a great time for Old Delhi pottering, when the city is  warm and cheering  rather than exhaustingly hot.

Back in January, for instance, on the day of the Lohri , I went for a stroll in the area which specialises in gajjak – a jaggery/nut brittle  eaten and gifted during this winter harvest festival. The gajjak shops turned out to be not too far from Chawri Bazaar metro towards the Khari Baoli end of Lal Kuan, and seemed to  envelop the area in a tantalising nutty, jaggery aroma.

In Frashkhana, there was a cluster of shops overflowing with nutty delights and doing a roaring trade.  It was a street I hadn’t explored before and  was keen to keep going but Rahul my rickshaw driver stopped after about 100 yards and said it wasn’t safe to go any further as the end of the gully marked the beginning of G.B. Road, Old Delhi’s red light district.

I wanted to linger, though. Luckily I spotted a busy food stall snuggled up to an old Mughal archway. Bathed in the soft winter sun, Khan Hotel was crowded with workers in their cosy woollen tank tops, an old man was making bread and all seemed well with the world.

The shop’s young proprietor, Chaman Khan, looked astonished  when I strolled up and ordered a plate of mutton and potato – I suppose not many foreigners stray into these parts.  One of the workers ushered me to a bench in the gully under the arch where I sat and dipped my fresh tandoori roti into the gravy, studiously ignoring Rahul’s rising twitchiness. The meal was simple and homely with none of Old Delhi’s signature spicy pyrotechnics –  also on offer was potato and spinach and dal, each served with the freshest of bread for 20 rupees a go.

Eventually, I gave in to Rahul’s constant reminders that this was not a good area and got back on the rickshaw.  Returning via Lal Kuan, we stopped at Lal Ramkrishan Das and Sons where a huge crowd was blocking out a beautiful display of gajjak. I sampled a few – a perfect chaser to the savoury meat – then watched sugar being spun at the back of the shop. (unfortunately I’ve managed to delete a video I made of this!)

Just looking at these photos makes me feel winter is already a distant memory but if the Western Disturbance troubles us for just a little bit longer, we can enjoy a few more leisurely Old Delhi strolls.

Khan Hotel, about fifty yards up on the right of Frashkhana coming from Lal Kuan

Lal Ramkrishan Das and Sons, gajjak shop, on Lal Kuan next to the opening for Rodgran Gali 

Gulabi Chikki – Coming Up Roses In 2012

Happy New Year everyone – wishing you all great things in 2012! One  of my wishes for the year ahead is  to spend more time here on my poor neglected blog. Thank you to everyone who wrote to find out if I’d dropped off the face of the earth – I really appreciate all your messages.

The truth is, I wouldn’t let myself do any blogging until I’d made some serious headway with the book.  I spent most of the autumn in Old Delhi, taking part in all the festivals, soaking everything up and filling dozens of notebooks but as soon as Diwali was over I knew I had to just sit down and try to make sense of it all. For a while I seriously doubted I could do it (I still have my doubts actually).  How could I possibly do justice to my beloved Old Delhi? How would I ever get beyond my journalist’s comfort zone of 1500 words?  Was my spine , and sanity, going to survive sitting at a desk for months on end?

Eventually I gave myself a good talking to,   strapped myself to a chair, switched off the internet and vowed to do no blogging or  excursions to Old Delhi until  I’d made significant progress.  It worked, sort of, and  it was a massive relief when  I sent off the first chapter a day before Charlie arrived back for the Christmas holidays.  Baby steps, but still an achievement.

My back’s still killing me but at least I’d earned a trip to Old Delhi. So last Friday, Dean and I left the kids sprawling on the sofa and headed out into the chilly morning. When we  arrived  in Chawri Bazaar  the streets were still thick with cold winter fog so we decided to warm up in Standard Sweets, a few steps from the Metro station.   We ordered two plates of Chhole Puri, a soft and comforting chick pea dish served with piping hot deep fried breads.  The Standard version of  this ubiquitous Delhi  dish is the addition of   potato, paneer and an extremely tasty kofta (a creamy vegetable dumpling).  We parked ourselves at a table to watch the shop and street get ready for the day.  A huge platter of carrot halwa was set on a stove to keep warm while young men in mufflers trooped in bearing trays of freshly made samosas and balushahi. Our breakfast, washed down with sweet spicy chai was delicious – I particularly enjoyed the kofta.  All round, a perfect winter warmer. From Standard Sweets we decided to wander through  Gali Peepal Mahadev where several temples were doing a brisk trade in early morning pujas.  Here, on the left,  we spotted the young owner of Standard Sweets making his offerings

We came across  an embroidery workshop and a dyeing shop

From Ballimaran we headed towards Kinari Bazaar and found a Daulat ki Chaat vendor.

I say ‘found’ but they’re not exactly difficult to come by these days.  Has anyone else noticed the multiplying of  Daulat ki Chaat wallahs in Old Delhi this year?  A happy renaissance to be sure but I’ve noticed some of them, particularly those clustered round Chawri Bazaar metro station,  taste a bit synthetic – cutting corners perhaps? The one we ate in Kinari Bazaar, however, was top notch.  The vendor, a serious young man in a Nehru waistcoat, was almost hidden from view in a side lane.  He took great pains to make sure each plate was just so, waited for us to finish then folded up his stand, put the platter on his head and disappeared into the main bazaar.

Dean stopped for a haircut, which as cruel friends have pointed out, never takes that long

From Kinari Bazaar we turned into Paranthe Wali Gali, not for paranthe but for sweets at Kanwarji which is at the end of the street on the corner with Chandni Chowk. Here I bought the beautiful rose chikki you can see at the top of this post. Chikki are like  nut brittle –  usually  nuts, seeds or puffed rice set in sugar or jaggery.  In the winter months, when the roses are at their best in India, the sweet shops sometimes add rose petals to their chikki.  Delicately rose-flavoured and beautiful to look at, they made the prettiest of new year gifts.

We also popped into the historic Ghantewala sweet shop a few doors up on Chandni Chowk to try their Habshi Halwa, a dark sugary, nutty, spicy sweet which, it turns out, both looks and tastes like Christmas pudding.

Then, just as we were about to head home, we decided to  take a peek in one of the lanes between Chandni Chowk and Kinari Bazaar. And in that little detour  we found  this lovely little place;

this young man with his thriving knife-sharpening business. Can you see the sparks flying from the scissors he’s sharpening on a stone that he’s turning by pedal power?

an old abandoned desk;

and a happy doggy  soaking up the winter sun…

It’s not just the food of Old Delhi  I’ve missed over the past few weeks, I’ve also missed  these endless discoveries.  It doesn’t matter how often I go to Old Delhi there’s always something I haven’t seen before; a doorway, a clock, a shaft of light, someone making something or fixing something, the boy with one blind eye  watching the crazy foreigner have his hair clipped.

Here’s to a year of discovery!

Standard Sweets, Gali Hakim Baqa. From Chawri Bazaar metro station   turn into Chawri Bazaar and take the first little turning on the left and you’ll see the shop on the left.

The only cake recipe you’ll need this summer

This was last week’s Mint recipe and I can’t stress enough just how useful it is.  It’s bailed me out of many a dessert fix – 5 minutes to make, half an hour in the oven – quite possibly the only summer cake recipe you’ll ever need…

I frequently get messages from readers pleading for recipes which don’t require scales—most Indian “andaaz”-based kitchens, they say, simply don’t possess a set. Although I recommend investing in scales if you’re at all keen to explore home baking—personally, I’m a slave to mine—I come from a long line of cooks who weren’t. My mother, an excellent baker, would have been completely at home in an Indian kitchen, using a tablespoon to measure everything—at least until she went through a weird midlife crisis Cordon Bleu phase in the 1970s.

I have inherited her beautiful, but now rather thin and worn, old spoon and use it most days—it makes me feel as if I’m stirring some magic into a cake or biscuit mixture. Today, I have used it as the base measure for a gorgeous, fruity sponge cake which is a perfect showcase for every glorious soft fruit about to make its way down from the Himalayas: I’ve used the fragrant little peaches which are in season briefly now, but you could substitute apricots, plums, cherries and later the apples and pears.

It’s inspired by a wonderful recipe in Jane Grigson’s 1982 masterpiece Fruit Book,given to the author by the owner of the village store near her French home. This, along with its companion volume on vegetables, is a book I refer to constantly—in fact, my copy falls open at this recipe’s page. Grigson named it Tarte de Cambraibut it’s really more of a cake. It requires minimal time in the kitchen—ideal for the next few months—about 5 minutes if you use fresh chopped fruit. I decided to use some peaches I had poached in a vanilla syrup first, again with imprecise measurements. I think it takes the cake up to new (Himalayan) heights.

Vive l’Andaaz.

Vanilla Peach Andaaz Cake

Serves 6

A word about the tablespoon measure: My mother’s spoon, heaped with flour or slightly rounded with caster sugar, measures one ounce (approximately 25g) but as long as you use the same spoon throughout, it doesn’t really matter, your cake will just be larger or smaller according to your spoon size—the main thing is to keep the ratios the same.

Ingredients

For the fruit

1/2 kg of just-ripe (not squishy) Himalayan peaches

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups water

2 vanilla pods

For the cake

10 level tbsp plain flour (maida)

1 tsp baking powder

6 level tbsp vanilla sugar (caster sugar which has been kept in a jar with vanilla pods)

4 tbsp sunflower oil

8 tbsp milk

2 whole eggs

Finely grated zest of a lemon

A pinch of salt

A little extra butter and sugar for the topping

Method

First prepare the fruit: Dissolve the sugar and water in a pan large enough to hold all the peaches and bring to a boil. Place the peaches in the syrup and let them simmer for 3 minutes, no longer. Lift the peaches out of the syrup and when cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Slit the vanilla pods and remove the seeds. Add both pods and seeds to the sugar syrup, then put the peaches back in and leave to cool to soak up some of the vanilla flavour.

When you’re ready to make the cake, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease something to bake the cake in. This also can be flexible. I used my beautiful Assamese earthenware dish but it works equally well in Pyrex or a metal cake or pie tin. Just make sure to grease it well.

Remove the stones from the peaches and lay them in the baking dish to form a single layer—you might not need them all but whatever’s left is delicious with a dollop of cream.

Measure all the ingredients into a bowl with your trusty tablespoon, then whisk to mix, or use a mixer. Pour the mixture, which will be like a batter, over the peaches. Put small dabs of butter over the surface along with a sprinkling of caster sugar.

Bake for about 35-45 minutes until a skewer prodded into the centre comes out clean.

Eat straight from the oven with thick cream or cold later.

Bad blogger and a recipe for mulberry granita

Well, I’ve been a very bad blogger recently, haven’t I?  In my defence, the past month has been a bit chaotic.   A few weeks ago I did something horrible to my back and I’ve had trouble walking, cooking and sitting at my desk – more or less pre-requisites for keeping this blog ship shape.

By terrible coincidence, my Uparwali Chai partner, Laura also slipped three disks and has been flat on her back for a month. As we were both hobbling around like a couple of old codgers, we had to cancel a tea party –  and as the weather is now getting a bit hot (it reached 40 degrees today) for any outdoor activity that doesn’t involve jumping in a pool I’m not sure when the next one will be.

I knew things were starting to look up, though, when my fruit and veg man delivered a basket of mulberries last week and I  suddenly felt up to a bit of kitchen play.  I love the very brief mulberry season:  so sweet, voluptuous and indulgent  yet perfectly democratic – the trees grow everywhere here – a quick shake of the trunk and you’ve got a glut on your hands.  They have to be eaten quickly and locally – this is one fruit we’re never going to see in supermarkets in London – before they start to fall apart and ferment.

After I’d gorged on the softly fragrant berries, I made some fluffy buttermilk pancakes which will appear in next weekend’s Mint column.  I still had loads left so I decided to make a simple granita for friends coming over for supper. It turned out to be a triumph, with  a little lemon juice to counterbalance the intense sweetness of the berries. Removing all the stalks is a pain – but worth it – if only for the intense colour, and the fact that you could still be savouring mulberries long after the season has been and gone.

Mulberry Granita

500g mulberries, stalks removed

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon (nimbu)

Gently heat the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Add the mulberries and cook for a couple of minutes. Press the fruit through a fine metal sieve to remove the the seeds.

Pour the mulberry liquid into a shallow plastic tub and put it in the freezer. Every hour or so, take out the tub and rough the granita up a bit with a fork. Do this a few times, until it is completely frozen.

Well, I seem to have got my va va voom back – no more excuses now!

Apricot and Jaggery Upside Down Cake

For this week’s Mint column, I made a  gooey Jaggery and Apricot Upside Down Cake using the gorgeous Himachal apricots that are in the Delhi markets at the moment.

I got to sneakily take a few pictures while  (Mint photographer) Priyanka had her lights out – love these oranges and greens.

Here’s the Mint column – click on the link in the text to see a step-by-step guide to making the cake:

A Loved-Up Upside-Down Cake

Pamela Timms tells us the recipe of apricot jaggery cake

Piece of cake | Pamela Timms

// My book group is the social highlight of every month: The company is great, the wine flows, the food is always gorgeous and sometimes we even get round to discussing the book. This month we’ve been reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett; a gripping tale of racial discrimination and kitchen drama set in 1960s Mississippi. Of course, I was moved by the plight of the black maids in the story and swept along by the struggle for equality, but for me the real hero of the book is the food. The pies, puddings and roasts of the Deep South are so vividly depicted that you can almost taste Minny’s Caramel Cake, one bite of which, we learn, can “make you feel loved”.

Click here for a slideshow on how to bake caramel cake

Also Read | Pamela’s previous Lounge columns

Almost, but not quite, so I decided to try and recreate some of that magic in my own kitchen by “caramelizing” an old favourite from my childhood. The “Upside-Down Cake” is a classic from the 1970s where fruit, sugar and butter are put into a cake tin and a cake mixture is then spread on top. When cooked, the cake is inverted and the sticky toffee fruit is on top.

Season’s special: Jaggery drenches the apricots and makes them  soft. Priyanka Parashan/Mint

Season’s special: Jaggery drenches the apricots and makes them soft. Priyanka Parashan/Mint

In the very un-exotic Britain of the time we had to make do with tinned pineapple but one of the great compensations of an Indian summer is that we’re spoilt for choice with all the magnificent soft fruit from Himachal: cherries, apricots, peaches and soon, plums. I chose apricots as they’re particularly plump and flavoursome this year.I also had a hunch that jaggery might provide a more intense caramel hit than the traditional white sugar and butter. The jaggery didn’t disappoint (how could it?), turning this old faithful into a real heart-stopper, drenching the apricots and almondy sponge in what can only be described as a loving spoonful. I’ll never know how it would rate alongside Minny’s Caramel Cake but the look on my daughter’s face when she took her first bite told me she wasn’t thinking about civil rights. And that’s good enough for me.

Apricot Jaggery Cake

Ingredients

650g apricots, the plumpest, ripest you can find

Caramel

175g powdered jaggery

6 tbsp water

Syrup

300g caster sugar

600ml water

Cake

2 large eggs

100g caster sugar

125g unsalted butter, softened

125g plain flour (maida)

2 level tsp baking powder

1 heaped tbsp of peeled and ground almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a 25cm round cake tin with aluminium foil—this is important especially if you’re using a loose-bottomed tin, to stop the caramel sauce from seeping out.

Cut all the apricots in half and take out the kernels.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the jaggery and 6 tablespoons of water until the jaggery is completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for a couple of minutes until it starts to get syrupy. With jaggery this happens much faster than with white sugar, so keep watching. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then pour into the cake tin.

In a pan large enough to hold all the apricots in a single layer, heat 300g caster sugar and 600ml water until the sugar has dissolved completely, then bring to the boil. Working quickly, slide the apricots into the pan, cut side down. Boil for 1 minute, then turn the apricots over and boil for 1 more minute (don’t poach the apricots for more than 2 minutes in all because you need them to hold their shape). Quickly remove the apricots from the pan and arrange, cut side down, on top of the jaggery caramel.

To make the cake, put the eggs, 100g caster sugar, butter, flour, baking powder and ground almonds into a bowl. Using either a food mixer, hand-held blender or good old wooden spoon, beat until the mixture falls off a spoon tapped on the side of the bowl. If it isn’t soft enough, add a tablespoon or two of the apricot poaching liquid.

Spread the cake mixture on top of the apricots and jaggery. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for a couple of minutes, loosen the sides by running a knife around the edge, then place a serving plate on top of the tin. Carefully flip the tin over to let the cake rest, jaggery and apricot side up. Serve warm with a huge dollop of cream.

Pamela Timms is a Delhi-based journalist and food writer. She blogs at https://eatanddust.wordpress.com

Write to Pamela at pieceofcake@livemint.com

Fruit Sandwiches – posh ones and not so posh ones

While idling on Twitter the other day, I came across this recipe for Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwiches in the British edition of upmarket food magazine, delicious.   The accompanying picture, I think, is meant to conjure up lazy afternoons watching Wimbledon  with posh snacks but it also reminded me of something a little closer to home.

Possibly  Old Delhi’s most surprising  street food joints is the Jain Coffee House in Raghu Ganj.  People are always astonished by it, not just because of the  location, in a quiet little  grain store off bustling Chawri Bazar, but also because of the sweet delicacy of  Pavan Kumar Jain’s fruit sandwiches.

Fruit Sandwiches at Jain Coffee House Continue reading

Happy Valentines

My favourite, all year round love spoons!

Happy Valentines Day!

A Walk in Khari Baoli Spice Market

All my birthdays and Christmases came at once last Thursday when good friend Nita offered to help me explore  the area around her family’s office in Khari Baoli Spice Market. Now,  I never need much of an excuse to go to Old Delhi but when an insider offers to show you around, it’s time to drop everything and run!

Three of us  set off  mid-morning  for what would turn out to be one of my most memorable days in Old Delhi.  We started at the Naya Bazaar end of Khari Baoli – Nita’s friend and foodie extraordinaire Anil, on holiday from his home in Paris, also came along and brought a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ to the jaunt.  Anil has the most amazing ability to get people to behave naturally in front of the camera and I spent a lot of time pestering him for tips – hope something has rubbed off!

For once, though, this wasn’t an eating trip, but a time to look, listen and try to scribble down as much as possible as fast as possible –  Nita was wonderful at coaxing out the kind of in-depth information that my ‘tuta puta’ Hindi prohibits, and by the end of the day my head was swimming with the discovery of new foods, recipes, folklore and family history. We also returned home with a whole heap of new (to me)  ingredients to play with.  Wah kya bat hai? as they say in these parts!

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